The Residency Interview Days: Making the Most of Each Event

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The interview process for a US medical residency program offers a variety of valuable opportunities for foreign medical graduates who are hoping to match in the spring. Not only do interviews allow you to show why you are a good fit for the program, but they also give you the chance to learn more about different programs and decide how you might rank your options on your ROL in the winter. Usually, the interview process lasts for one or two days, and every event on the itinerary counts. In order to make the most of these these events, it can be helpful to know what to expect. Read on to learn more about the structure of the interview days and how you can make the most of each event.

Interview Day Events to Expect

Every residency program has a unique itinerary for its interview day(s), but there are some general similarities that you can count on. As a candidate, knowing what to expect from each event–and how you can get the most out of it–can help you successfully navigate the interview day(s):

 

  • Orientation / welcome presentation. The official start to most interview days is a welcome presentation by an administrative leader, during which you and the other hopeful candidates are given an overview of the program. You’ll typically hear about the daily expectations for residents, the educational structure of the program, and any research opportunities that may be offered. The presentation also usually covers logistical details related to salary, benefits, services, and lifestyle (like housing and transportation). It can be helpful to take notes during this session, but most of the information will probably be available in information packets provided by the program. Instead of frantically trying to copy every word, keep a pen handy to jot down the side notes and anecdotes that you won’t be able to find in the official paperwork.
  • Formal interviews. Of course, the formal interviews are at the heart of the interview days. Depending on the program, you might find yourself interviewing with faculty members, current residents, or both. The number of interviews also varies between programs, but you can typically expect anywhere from two to six formal interviews. As we discussed in an earlier post, there are key do’s and don’ts that can help you through the interview. As you prepare, you may also want to set up a practice run with friends, colleagues, mentors, or other candidates from your medical school.  
  • Tour of the facility. The extent and scope of the tour can vary significantly depending on the size of the facility, but it always gives you the chance to get a feel for the general atmosphere of the institution and the surrounding area. It can be challenging to take notes as you walk during the tour, and you probably won’t notice as much if you’re focused on your notebook. Instead, focus on observing observing your surroundings and write down what you remember later.
  • Informal meals and social events. Often, aspiring residents will have the chance to sit down to an informal meal with current residents and/or staff. It could be a breakfast in the hospital cafeteria, dinner at a nearby restaurant, or even drinks after all the interviews are complete. These events can be fun, but you should also remember that they are still part of the interview process, so you don’t want to make a poor impression. Instead, try to get to know the residents and staff, find out what it’s like to live in the area, and take the chance to ask about informal topics like apartment options and nearby recreational opportunities.
  • Opportunities for resident shadowing. Although not included on the itinerary for all US medical residency programs, there are some programs that give you the chance to shadow residents during rounds or resident reports. This can help you get an idea of the workplace atmosphere and the daily life of residents in the facility. However, if you’re considering several different specialty areas when you are constructing your ROLs later in the winter, it’s important to remember that a few hours of shadowing may not provide enough information for you to develop a comprehensive understanding of the differences between specialites. For that, you may want to consider a longer graduate externship program. On the interview days, you should focus on the atmosphere in the facility and the general experiences of the residents so you can decide if it is the kind of place where you would enjoy working.
  • Exit interviews or closing presentation. Formal exit interviews are less common, but there are some programs where you will briefly meet with an administrative official before the conclusion of the interview days. There are also programs where a one-on-one exit interview is replaced by a general closing presentation from a hospital administrator. Either way, this closing event isn’t the time to try to cram in details about your previous experiences or plans for the future. Rather, an exit interview or closing event gives you the chance to make one final, positive impression–so remember to be friendly, indicate your sincere interest in the program, and smile!

 

 

If you’re a foreign medical graduate looking to get matched to a US medical residency program, FMG Portal is here to help you at every step of the process. Contact us today to learn more about everything we offer!

 

Preparing Your Rank Order List: Do’s and Don’ts for Foreign Medical Graduates

 

Now that you’ve finished your initial application, completed your interviews, and finalized your registration for the 2018 Match, there is only one thing left to do: prepare your Rank Order List (ROL). Earlier on the blog, we talked about the basics of ROLs — what they are, how they work, and what foreign medical graduates need to know from the start. Today, we were going to go further in-depth and talk about some of the Do’s and Don’ts for creating an ROL. That way, when the Rank Order List Entry opens on January 15, 2018 (mark your calendar!), you will have the tools you need for success.

DO’s for Creating Your Rank Order List (ROL)

When it comes to creating your rank order list, there are key things that you should make sure to do.

 

  • DO rank programs in the order of your true preference. The ROL is the place where you get to tell the NRMP where you want to train. After spending months or even years scoping out programs and trying to get a feel for the different training options, this is your opportunity to let the NRMP know which programs you think will best support both your personal and professional goals. Even if you worry that a particular program might be a “reach” for you, you should rank it at the top if it is the place where you would most like to complete your training!
  • DO include a both competitive and less-competitive schools on your ROL. While you should definitely rank your preferred programs at the top — even if they are highly competitive — you should also try to include programs with less competitive profiles on your list. That way, if you don’t end up getting matched to some of the more competitive programs, you won’t run the risk of not getting matched at all.
  • DO remember to certify your ROL before the deadline. In order for the match algorithm to process your ROL, it needs to be certified within the R3 system by 9:00 pm Eastern Standard time on February 21, 2018. Also, you should note that the R3 system is notorious for running slowly in the last few days before the deadline, so if you have your ROL ready in advance, DO upload it early.
  • DO remember that you can change ROLs that have already been certified. If you decide to upload your ROL early, you still have the chance to change your mind before the February 21 deadline — as long as you remember to recertify your ROL. The Match algorithm will only process the last certified ROL.

DON’Ts for Creating Your Rank Order List (ROL)

Preparing your rank order list might seem simple enough, but don’t be fooled! There are a variety of pitfalls that you can easily fall into if you’re not careful. Here are a few major DON’Ts for foreign medical graduates who are preparing their ROLs:

 

  • DON’T rank programs where you aren’t interested in training. When creating your ROL, you may be tempted to rank all the programs where you interviewed, and that’s a great plan if you feel comfortable training in any of the programs. However, if you have misgivings about a program and are only including it because you feel desperate to get matched, you might want to think twice about adding it to your ROL. When you certify your ROL, you make a binding commitment to train at any program where you get matched, so you should only rank programs where you would feel satisfied about (and celebrate!) a match.
  • DON’T include programs where you did not interview. As you already know, the Match is a computer algorithm. It won’t recognize any programs where you did not interview as options for a match. Therefore, it’s not worth the time to include any of these programs on your ROL.
  • DON’T wait until the deadline to enter your ROL into the system. Creating an ROL requires more than just writing down a list of programs — the R3 system can initially be confusing, so you should give yourself enough time to figure it out. Also, the NRMP warns that its servers tend to get overloaded in the last few days before the deadline, so it’s a good idea to give yourself extra time to make sure that you won’t have to worry about unexpected technological glitches.
  • DON’T forget to save your ROL after making changes. When you add a new program to your list or change the order in the R3 system, you have to click the “save” button before you leave the system if you want to return to your ROL the way you left it. It is important to note that saving an ROL is different from certifying it. Saving your ROL allows you to develop and change your ROL as the deadline approaches, but it is only finalized and ready for processing by the match algorithm when you certify it.
  • DON’T try to import an ROL on a mobile device. These days, you can use your smartphone or tablet for just about everything. Unfortunately, that doesn’t include every part of the residency matching process. In order to import an ROL in the R3 system, you need to be using a traditional laptop or desktop computer.

 

 

Whether you’re anticipating the last few months of the 2018 NRMP Match, gearing up for the 2019 Match, or looking ahead to future years, FMG Portal is here to help you every step of the way. Contact us today for more information!

 

Considering Advanced Studies in Interventional or Metabolic Cardiology

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In the United States and around the world, cardiovascular disease is the number one cause of death, so there is a high demand for physicians with expertise in cardiology. Last week on the blog, we went over the steps that you need to take to become a cardiologist in the United States. After earning your medical degree, you must complete a three-year residency in internal medicine, followed by a three-year cardiology fellowship. After that, you have the option of completing a subspecialty cardiology fellowship in a particular area of interest.

Two subspecialty options within the field of cardiology are interventional cardiology and metabolic cardiology. For interventional cardiology, you can complete an ACGME-accredited subspecialty fellowship program after your first cardiology fellowship. There are also opportunities for advanced studies in metabolic cardiology. Read on to learn more about these two subspecialty options and why you might want to consider completing a graduate externship in one of them before you apply for a US medical residency program.

Introduction to Interventional Cardiology

Interventional cardiology is a subfield that focuses primarily on coronary artery disease, which is the most common form of cardiovascular disease in the United States. Specialists in this subfield are trained to conduct complex diagnostic procedures and design long-term health management strategies for patients with chronic and acute coronary artery disease. As an interventional cardiologist, you would also conduct percutaneous intervention procedures and put in percutaneous ventricular assist devices. If you’re looking to truly make a difference in the lives of patients who require immediate care for complex cardiac conditions, interventional cardiology could be a great subspecialty option for you.

Introduction to Metabolic Cardiology

Metabolic cardiology is a relatively new subfield that promotes an unconventional approach to the prevention, management, and treatment of congestive heart failure. Instead of relying on traditional interventions, this approach emphasizes an integrative approach based on nutrient supplementation. According to proponents of metabolic cardiology, the underlying cause of heart disease is the lack of sufficient energy for the heart to function at an optimal level. This problem can be addressed by providing the body with nutrients that support the production of enough ATP to support heart health.

Thus, experts in metabolic cardiology seek to prevent and treat cardiovascular disease through the targeted supplementation of four key nutrients that are involved in ATP production

  • D-ribose, which is required for the de novo synthesis of ATP
  • Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10), which is involved in ATP recycling and reuse

 

  • L-Carnitine, which is also involved in ATP recycling and reuse
  • Magnesium, which plays a role in more than three hundred enzymatic reactions, many of which are related to energy production

Metabolic cardiology is widely viewed all-natural, less expensive alternative to traditional treatment methods for cardiovascular disease. If you’re interested in an innovative approach to cardiology, advanced studies in metabolic cardiology could be a great opportunity for you.

Reasons to Pursue Graduate Externships in Interventional and Metabolic Cardiology

As a foreign medical graduate, you might be wondering why you would want to complete a graduate externship in interventional or metabolic cardiology. After all, you still have to get through a three-year internal medicine residency and a three-year general cardiology fellowship before you have the chance to subspecialize. However, there are actually a lot of good reasons to choose such a highly specialized area for a graduate fellowship. Here are just a few:

  • In the personal statement on your residency application and in your residency interview, you need to be able to articulate clear plans and goals about your educational and professional future. When you are applying for an internal medicine residency, it’s one thing to say you want to be a cardiologist and possibly subspecialize interventional cardiology, but when you have months of clinical experience to back it up, it’s a lot more believable to an application reader.
  • A graduate externship in a subspecialty area can help you build on your existing clinical and research interests. While completing a fellowship in interventional or metabolic cardiology, you may be exposed to cutting-edge research and innovative clinical techniques, which could shape your future educational and career interests. Again, these are things you could include on your personal statement and talk about during your interview.
  • A graduate externship in a highly specialized area can actually help you make decisions about your future education and career. Sometimes, it can be hard to determine whether or not you want to dedicate your studies and professional life to a subspecialty area just by reading about it. In a graduate externship, you would have the chance to learn what day-to-day life as a specialist physician is like. That way, you can feel confident as you make decisions about steering your future toward a specialty area of cardiology.

 

FMG Portal offers graduate externships in both interventional and metabolic cardiology, among a wide range of other specialty and subspecialty areas. Contact us today to learn more about our offerings!

 

Medical Specialty Spotlight: Cardiology

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Cardiovascular disease is the number one cause of death around the world. According to the World Health Organization, cardiovascular disease accounts for about 31 percent of all deaths — a total of around 17.7 million people per year. In the United States, the prevalence of cardiovascular disease is similar. According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 1 in 4 deaths are caused by heart disease — a total of around 610,000 people per year. Moreover, about 47 percent of Americans have one of the top three risk factors for cardiovascular disease: high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and/or a history of smoking.

As a cardiologist, you would have the opportunity to dedicate your career to supporting cardiovascular health and combating cardiovascular disease. The United States can be a great place to get the training you need through residency and/or fellowship programs. Read on to learn what foreign medical graduates need to do to launch a career in cardiology.

Completing a US Medical Residency Program in Internal Medicine

After earning your medical degree, the first step toward a cardiology career is a medical residency program in internal medicine. According to the National Residency Matching Program (NRMP), internal medicine is the most common residency specialty for foreign medical graduates, and the proportion of FMGs who choose internal medicine has been on the rise in recent years, jumping 6.4 percent from 2011 to 2015.

An internal medicine residency program can provide the preparation you need for a wide range of medical careers, including cardiology. In a three-year internal medicine residency program in the United States, you will get broad training in the diagnosis and treatment of the diseases and disorders that affect all organ systems. This training will include a mix of clinical practice and classroom-based seminar. You may also have the opportunity to conduct laboratory or clinical research in an area of interest, like cardiology. At the end of your internal medicine residency program, you are eligible to take the certification exam offered by the American Board of Internal Medicine (ABIM).

Completing a Fellowship in Cardiology

After earning certification from the ABIM, you can continue toward a career in cardiology by starting a three-year cardiology fellowship. During a fellowship in cardiology, you will have the chance to study a wide range of cardiac conditions, procedures, and prevention strategies. In most programs, you will also have the chance to apply your knowledge and skills in multiple settings, including inpatient and outpatient settings. Research is also an integral aspect of many cardiology fellowship programs. Just as in your internal medicine residency program, you may have the chance to choose between research in laboratory and clinical settings, depending on your specific interests.

Subspecialty Cardiology Fellowships

If you are passionate about a particular topic within the field of cardiology, you may consider completing a one- to two-year cardiology subspecialty fellowship after you have finished your three-year general cardiology fellowship. In a subspecialty fellowship, you have the opportunity to gain focused clinical and/or research experience in a particular cardiology subfield. The ACGME-accredited subspecialty options for trained cardiologists include:

 

  • Interventional Cardiology Fellowship. In this subspecialty fellowship, your focus would be on treating coronary artery disease, the most common cardiovascular condition in the United States. Topics of study can include diagnostic procedures, percutaneous coronary interventions, and management strategies for patients with coronary artery disease. Interventional cardiology fellowships last one or two years.
  • Electrophysiology (Heart Rhythm) Fellowship. In this subspecialty fellowship, your training would focus on the diagnosis and management of disorders characterized by irregular cardiac rhythms. For this, you would gain expertise in the implantation of pacemakers and other medical devices, lead extraction, and epicardial mapping, among other procedures. Electrophysiology fellowships last one or two years.
  • Advanced Heart Failure Fellowship. This subspecialty fellowship would provide training in the management strategies for complex heart failure, such as transplant and implantation of artificial heart devices. You would also learn about pre- and post-operative care for patients who undergo these procedures. Advanced heart failure fellowships last for one year.

Although Interventional Cardiology, Electrophysiology, and Advanced Heart Failure are the only ACGME-accredited subspecialty options in cardiology, there are also unaccredited subspecialty fellowship options in other cardiology subfields, such as Advanced Imaging and Metabolic Cardiology. Even though these programs are unaccredited, they may still provide valuable education that can support your career success.

Pre-Residency Preparation Options for Aspiring Cardiologists

As an aspiring cardiologist with a degree from a foreign medical school, there are many things you can do to get ready for the residency application process that will launch your career in cardiology. One great way to gain clinical experience in a US medical setting is by completing a graduate externship experience. You can choose a graduate externship in general cardiology or a subspecialty area like interventional cardiology or metabolic cardiology. When writing your application for an internal medicine residency in the United States, you can draw on this experience to explain your passion for the field of cardiology and demonstrate your commitment to career success. In some cases, graduate externships can also help you make connections with potential reference writers at US institutions, which you may need to get matched in certain residency programs.
FMG Portal offers graduate externships in a wide range of medical specialty areas, including cardiology, interventional cardiology, metabolic cardiology, and internal medicine, among others. Contact us today for more information!

Preparing for the USMLE Step 2 – CS: What NOT To Do

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Over the last few weeks, we’ve been talking about the USMLE exams, which are essential for earning ECFMG certification and becoming eligible to apply for a medical residency program in the United States. In one of these posts, we introduced you to the USMLE Step 2 – CS, which tests your clinical skills. In another post, we took a more specific look at what you can expect in the two types of encounters on the USMLE Step 2 – CS: the Standardized Patient and Physical Examination and the Telephone Patient Encounter. Going into the USMLE Step 2 – CS, it is important for you to know what the examiners expect you to do — but you also need to know what NOT to do. That way, you can avoid making mistakes that cost you valuable time and/or points off your score. Read on to get tips on what NOT to do on the USMLE Step 2 – CS patient encounters.

What NOT To Do On the Standardized Patient and Physical Examination Encounters

Here are a few things that you definitely want to avoid during the in-person encounters on the USMLE Step 2:

 

  • Do NOT perform any of the prohibited tests. The testmakers specify that you should not conduct rectal, pelvic, genitourinary, inguinal hernia, female breast, or corneal reflex examinations. Also, you should not swab the patient’s throat for a throat culture. If you think that the patient needs any of these tests, you can call for them in the diagnostic workup you propose in your Patient Note.
  • Do NOT ask the patient for consent for other physical examinations. Aside from the above-mentioned prohibited tests, you can assume that you already have patient consent for all physical examinations. This includes femoral pulse exams, inguinal node exams, back exams, and axilllary exams. Asking for the patient’s consent on any of these exams will unnecessarily take up valuable time.
  • Do NOT be overly forceful with the patient with the patient. You need to be gentle during the physical examination avoid being too forceful when conducting maneuvers that involve palpating or percussing. You will lose points if you apply more than the appropriate amount of pressure when conducting an abdominal examination, examining the gallbladder or liver, using an otoscope to examine the ears, examining the throat with a tongue depressor, or examining the gall bladder and liver.
  • Do NOT forget about the patient’s modesty. During the exam, you must treat the patient just the way you would treat a patient in a real-life situation. Therefore, it is important to take the time to consider their personal comfort during the physical examination. For instance, if part of the exam requires a female patient’s bra to be moved or loosened, you should ask her before doing it yourself. It only takes a few seconds, and it will demonstrate your ability to remain courteous and professional, regardless of the time constraints of the exam.

What NOT To Do On the Telephone Patient Encounters

These are some things to avoid on the Telephone Patient Encounters:

 

  • Do NOT play around with the buttons on the phone. During the Telephone Patient Encounter, all you need to do to place the call is  press the yellow speaker button. After that, touching any buttons could disconnect your call. When you are ready to end the call, press the yellow speaker button again.
  • Do NOT try to call the patient back after ending the call. Once you end the call, the encounter is over. Even if you think of another question for the patient, you cannot reach them again. Trying to call the patient back will only cut into the time you have for the Patient Note, so you should just do your best with the information you have.
  • Do NOT make assumptions based on your previous test experiences. This tip actually goes for both the Standardized Patient and Physical Examination Encounters and the Telephone Patient Encounters. If you are taking the USMLE Step 2 – CS for a second time, you may notice similarities between an encounter on your exam and an encounter on one you have taken before. However, you should NOT assume that the correct diagnosis or treatment strategy is the same as the one on your previous examination, as the test preparers often make slight changes between exams.
  • Do NOT make assumptions about whether or not an encounter counts toward your score. You may know that some of the twelve patient encounter are unscored — that is, they are only used for test development purposes. However, it is a bad idea to try to guess which encounters are unscored. Even if a particular encounter seems to stand out as easier or harder than the others, it may not be one of the unscored encounters. You should treat each one of the encounters — including both the in-person and telephone encounters — with equal seriousness.

 

 

Following these tips can help you avoid potential pitfalls when taking the USMLE Step 2 – CS. For more help preparing for a U.S. medical residency program, contact FMG Portal today!

Getting Ready for the USMLE Step 2 CK: A General Overview

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Over the last few weeks, we’ve been talking about the USMLE Step 1 and Step 2. As an aspiring medical resident, you have to pass both of these exams before you can move on to USMLE Step 3. Success on all three USMLE exams is a prerequisite for ECFMG certification. Therefore, if you’re a foreign medical graduate looking to get matched to a residency program in the United States, passing these exams should be one of your top priorities.

The USMLE Step 2 consists of two parts. As we discussed in two previous posts, the USMLE Step 2 – CS tests your clinical skills during real-life patient encounters. The second part of Step 2 is the Clinical Knowledge (CK) section. Like the USMLE Step 1, the USMLE Step 2 – CK is a written test that requires you to demonstrate your expertise in the field of medicine. Read on to learn more about the content of the test and the format of the questions.

The Content of the USMLE Step 2 – CK: What To Expect

Put simply, the USMLE Step 2 – CK tests your knowledge of the concepts of clinical science that the USMLE committee members have decided are the most important for medical residents to possess. The specific material can vary slightly from year to year, but the general content tends to remain the same. There are two ways that the the content of the exam can be broken down: in terms of Scientific Topics and in terms of Physician Tasks and Competencies.

Scientific Topics

When approached from the perspective of Scientific Topics, the USMLE Step 2 – CK can be broken down into three categories, each accounting for a certain proportion of the exam. The first category, General Principles of Foundational Science, typically takes up 1 to 3 percent of the exam. The second category includes Biostatistics, Epidemiology, Population Health, and Interpretation of the Medical Literature. These topics typically take up 1 to 5 percent of the exam. That means that the vast majority of the USMLE Step 2 – CK is dedicated to the third category, which encompasses body systems and tissues. This category accounts for 85 to 95 percent of the exam. The topics that fall within this category include:

  • Behavioral health
  • Cardiovascular system
  • Circulatory system
  • Endocrine system
  • Gastrointestinal system
  • Lymphoreticular system
  • Musculoskeletal system
  • Nervous system and special senses
  • Pregnancy, childbirth, and the puerperium
  • Renal System
  • Reproductive system (male and female)
  • Respiratory System
  • Skin and subcutaneous tissue
  • Urinary system
  • Multisystem processes and disorders

Physician Tasks and Competencies

Another way to divide up the content of the USMLE Step 2 – CK is in terms of Physician Tasks and Competencies. Approaching the exam from this perspective can help you understand exactly what aspects of the Scientific Topics you will be tested on. Each of the four competencies accounts for a significant proportion of the exam.

  1. Medical Knowledge / Scientific Concepts

This competency makes up 10 to 15 percent of the test. Questions that fall in this category are direct, straightforward questions about the Scientific Topics listed above.

  1. Patient Care / Diagnosis

This competency makes up 40 to 50 percent of the test. Questions that fall within this category examine your ability to:

  • Interpret information from a patient’s medical history and physical examination
  • Interpret information from laboratory and diagnostic studies
  • Make a diagnosis
  • Provide a prognosis
  • Determine expected patient outcomes
  1. Patient Care: Management Health Maintenance / Disease Prevention

This competency makes up 30 to 35 percent of the test. The questions that fall within this category will test your knowledge of:

  • Clinical intervention strategies
  • Pharmacotherapy
  • Mixed management
  • Surveillance techniques to prevent disease recurrence
  1. Professionalism

This competency takes up only a small proportion of the exam: between 3 and 7 percent. Questions within this category will assess your knowledge of:

  • Professional conduct for health care providers
  • System-based practice
  • Patient safety
  • Practice-based learning and skill development

Question Types on the USMLE Step 2 – CK

All of the questions on the USMLE Step 2 – CK are multiple choice questions. Some of the questions are single-item questions, while others are sequential item sets. For the single-item questions, you will be provided with a short vignette that ends with a question, and you will need to choose the best answer from among a set of lettered choices. For the sequential item sets, you will be given a vignette that is followed by several multiple-choice questions that assess your knowledge of different aspects.

The way that the questions are framed can vary depending on the scientific topic or physician competency that is being assessed. Some questions ask you directly for information about a scientific concept. Others provide a story about a clinical situation that you might encounter as a physician. Still others provide a research abstract that you will need to interpret. Being prepared to see all of these question types is crucial for success on test day.
Looking for more advice on the steps you have to take to get matched to a U.S. medical residency program? Contact FMG Portal today!

Medical Specialty Spotlight: Infectious Diseases

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All over the world, infectious diseases are on the rise. Every day on the news, you might hear a breaking story about the discovery of a novel virus that has the potential to wreak havoc across the globe. At the same time, you might be hearing about infectious diseases that have been around for centuries but are somehow making a comeback. Consider some of the most recent developments in the field of infectious diseases:

  • The Zika virus has gained traction in South American countries like Brazil, and it has also been carried to other countries, like the United States. The effects of the virus are not well understood, but it has been shown to cause microcephaly in infants after their mothers have been infected.
  • Between 2014 and 2016, the most recent outbreak of Ebola ravaged countries in West Africa, causing a worldwide health scare.
  • Over the last two years, there have been measles outbreaks across Europe, especially in Romania, where over 3,400 cases have been reported since January 2016. Some suggest that the increase in measles, mumps, and rubella has resulted from unwarranted fears about the safety of vaccines for children.
  • Scientists have recently reported that the number of new flu viruses is increasing each year. This is making it increasingly harder for scientists to develop effective vaccines.

If stories like these capture your academic interest as a physician, you may want to consider becoming an infectious disease specialist in the future. Read on to learn more about working as an infectious disease specialist and what you need to do to become one.

Working as an Infectious Disease Specialist

An infectious disease specialist is a physician who is an expert at diagnosing, treating, and preventing the spread of illnesses that are transmitted from person to person. Infectious diseases may be caused by bacteria, viruses, parasites, or fungi, and they can affect many different parts of the body. Although some infectious diseases, like the common cold, are relatively easy to diagnose and treat, most infectious disease specialists focus their work on infections that are particularly difficult to treat or have not been fully studied.

As an infectious disease specialist, your job could involve aspects of clinical practice, scientific research, and public health efforts. Depending on your interests and training, you might spend some of your time working directly with patients, providing them with vaccinations against infectious diseases and/or therapies to treat infections that they have already contracted. You might also choose to spend some of your time in the research lab, developing and conducting rigorous studies with the goal of finding new prevention and treatment strategies or identifying new strains of a deadly infection. If you are interested in public health, you could also find yourself using your medical knowledge to develop and direct large-scale efforts to address and eradicate infectious diseases in a broader community.

The Steps to Becoming an Infectious Disease Specialist

Regardless of the particular aspect of infectious disease in which you are most interested, the basic components of training for this career are the same. After you finish your training in medical school, you must complete a three-year medical residency in internal medicine. If you are specifically interested in becoming a pediatric infectious disease specialist, you will also need to complete a medical residency program in pediatrics. Although it can be tough for foreign medical graduates to get matched to U.S. medical residency programs, it is important to note that internal medicine and pediatrics are two of the specialty areas in which foreign medical graduates are most commonly matched. To increase your chances of getting matched, you might also want to consider completing a student elective or a clinical externship program in infectious diseases, internal medicine, and/or pediatrics before you apply for your residency.

After you finish your residency, you can get the expertise you need to become an infectious disease specialist by completing an ACGME-accredited fellowship program in infectious diseases. Depending on the location, these programs can last for either two or three years. In most programs, fellows divide their time between clinical training with patients and research training in a particular area of interest. Research within the field of infectious diseases tends to vary widely, and it may fall into any of the following categories:

  • Basic science
  • Translational science
  • Clinical trials
  • Epidemiology / public health
  • Global health studies

Upon completion of one of these programs, you will be prepared for the Infectious Disease subspecialty certification exam offered by the American Board of Internal Medicine (ABIM). From there, you can start an exciting career as an infectious disease specialist!
FMG Portal offers valuable resources for foreign medical graduates who are looking to pursue careers in a wide range of specialty areas. Contact us today for more information about how to get matched to the U.S. medical residency program of your dreams!

Medical Specialty Spotlight: Adolescent Medicine

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As you look ahead to your medical career, one specialty area that you might want to consider is adolescent medicine. As an adolescent medicine specialist, you would provide care for pre-teens, teenagers, and young adults. The period of adolescence starts when the patient reaches puberty and ends when the patient is in their early twenties, so you would have the opportunity to work with patients during a crucial period of development. Read on to learn more about starting a career in this rewarding field.

The Educational Steps for Aspiring Adolescent Medicine Specialists

After earning your medical degree, you can expect to spend another six years in residency and fellowship programs before you can become a Board-certified adolescent medicine specialist. Specifically, you need to complete a three-year medical residency program and a three-year Adolescent Medicine Fellowship.

The first step is to complete a three-year residency program in one of the more general medical specialty areas. According to the National Resident Matching Program (NRMP), applicants for an Adolescent Medicine Fellowship must have previously completed a three-year medical residency in one of the following specialty areas:

That’ good news for foreign medical graduates, since internal medicine, family medicine, and pediatrics were the top three specialty areas in which foreign-trained physicians got matched in 2015, according the the NRMP.

After completing a three-year residency in one of those specialty areas, you can apply for a three-year fellowship in Adolescent Medicine. Unlike some other fellowship programs, the matching process for Adolescent Medicine Fellowship programs is facilitated by the NRMP. Therefore, after you have completed your first residency program, you would go through the ERAS process to get matched to an Adolescent Medicine Fellowship program, just like you would for any other residency program.

What to Expect From an Adolescent Medicine Fellowship Program

All Adolescent Medicine Fellowship programs last for three years. The time that you spend in the program is typically divided between clinical experience, research training, and didactic coursework. In general, the first year is spent mostly on clinical training and coursework, while the second and third years involve more academic research.

However, it is important to note that the proportion of time spent in each of these areas can vary depending on the program. Some programs are primarily intended for aspiring adolescent medicine clinicians, while others focus on training adolescent medicine specialists who spend more time on academic research that supports their practice. As you look at the different programs that are available in the United States, make sure to find out about the emphasis of each one of the programs that you are considering.

Clinical Training in an Adolescent Medicine Fellowship Program

During your clinical training, you will probably have the opportunity to gain experience in multiple settings. You may complete rotations in hospitals, outpatient care centers, behavioral health clinics, substance abuse clinics, gynecology departments, school-based health clinics, and even homeless shelters. If you are interested in public health, adolescent medicine can be a great choice, because many programs offer opportunities to work with teens and young adults from a wide variety of socioeconomic backgrounds.

Because adolescent medicine is such a broad discipline, your clinical training will equip you to treat young people with many different physical and mental health conditions. Some common topics of study include:

  • Eating disorders
  • Gynecology
  • Substance abuse
  • Nutrition
  • Sports medicine
  • Chronic diseases

Research Training in an Adolescent Medicine Fellowship Program

In addition to your clinical training, an Adolescent Medicine Fellowship involves academic research. In most programs, the research opportunities have implications for public health. For instance, you may conduct epidemiological research to try to understand disease frequency in certain adolescent populations, or you may conduct lab-based molecular biology research to develop sexually transmitted disease therapies that are safe for young adults. At some universities, your research can serve as the basis for a Master of Public Health (MPH) degree, which you can earn as part of the Adolescent Medicine Fellowship Program.

Starting Your Career as an Adolescent Medicine Specialist

Once you finish your fellowship program, you will be ready to take the Adolescent Medicine Certification Exam. This exam is developed jointly by the American Board of Internal Medicine (ABIM), the American Board of Family Medicine (ABFM) and the American Board of Pediatrics (ABP). The ABP administers the exam once a year to candidates who have completed an Adolescent Medicine Fellowship program. Passing this exam means that you are Board-certified in the subspecialty area of Adolescent Medicine.

Advice for Aspiring Adolescent Medicine Specialists

Even if you are still in medical school, there are steps you can take that can help you prepare for an Adolescent Medicine Fellowship program in the United States. Completing a student elective or a graduate externship in the field is a great way to learn more about the subspecialty area and increase your chances of getting matched. FMG Portal offers clinical externships for foreign medical graduates in Adolescent Medicine, as well as the three other relevant specialty areas: Internal Medicine, Family Medicine, and Pediatrics. Contact us today for more information about what we offer!

Polishing Your Personal Statement: The Editing Process

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If you’re participating in the 2018 ERAS process, you’re probably spending part of your summer working on your personal statement, which is a key component of your application for a U.S. medical residency program. Over the course of the last few posts, we’ve been going over the major steps of the process: from the early stages of brainstorming, to the first draft, to the later revisions of your personal statement, there are lots of important things to keep in mind so that you can create a personal statement that will impress the application readers at your desired residency program. Once you are happy with the general content and overall organization of your personal statement, it is finally time to move on to the last step of the writing process — editing and polishing.

Steps within the Editing Process

When you submit your personal statement to a medical residency program, it is essential for the document to be free from errors in spelling, grammar, and punctuation. Even if you are telling a great story that shows your application reader exactly why you are an excellent candidate for their residency program, your reader can be easily turned off by a minor mistake. Mistakes can suggest sloppiness or a lack of true interest in the program — and you don’t want your reader to think either of those things! In order to ensure that the personal statement you submit is error-free, here are some key steps to take:

  • Run the spelling and grammar check in your word processing program. These tools are NOT comprehensive, so you should NOT rely solely on them to edit your paper…but they are still valuable tools that are readily available. You might as well use them.
  • Read the paper out loud. You might recognize this tip from the post about the revision process, but it can also help you as you edit your paper. When you read your personal statement out loud, it’s easier to catch minor wording errors, such as using “a” instead of “an,” because they just don’t sound right when you hear them. Reading your paper out loud can also help with the identification of grammatically incorrect sentence structures.
  • Print your paper out. Again, this tip applies to both the revision process and the editing process. Often, when you see the words directly on paper, errors in spelling and grammar are more likely to jump out at you.
  • Ask multiple friends to read your personal statement. At this point, you’ve been staring at your personal statement for days, weeks, or even months. People who have never read it before are much less likely to overlook spelling mistakes and grammatical errors. Also, it’s a good idea to get multiple perspectives on your personal statement. Sometimes, a sentence structure that makes sense to one person is confusing for another, so it can be helpful to have more than one person weigh in.
  • Ask an expert in American English to help you edit. If English is not your first language, it may be a good idea to have a native speaker look over your personal statement. Ideally, this person should be most familiar with American English, since you’re applying for a U.S. medical residency program. An American English expert might be able to detect subtle in grammar or diction that detract from the overall message of your paper, and they can help you tweak it so that it reads smoothly for an American application reader.

What To Watch Out For When Editing Your Personal Statement

When you edit your personal statement, or when you have a friend edit the document, it can be helpful to think about exactly what you are looking for before you start. That way, you’re more likely to notice the errors that exist in your personal statement. Here are a few of the things you should keep in mind:

  • Spelling. Misspelled words look bad in your personal statement. If you come across a word and you’re not sure of the correct spelling, consult a dictionary.
  • Punctuation. Does every sentence end with a period? Are the commas in the right places? If you used quotes or parentheses, did you make sure to close them? Are colons and semicolons used appropriately?
  • Grammar. Look for common mistakes, like errors in subject-verb agreement and the use of singular and plural nouns.
  • Capitalization. Make sure that names and other proper nouns are capitalized. All other nouns should not be capitalized.
  • Presentation. Although you may not be able to control the font size and style of your personal statement when you enter it into the ERAS system, make sure that the overall layout of the personal statement is visually appealing. Rather than having one long block of text, it should be divided into cohesive paragraphs that look good on the page.

By carefully editing your personal statement for problems in each of these areas, you can be sure to make the best possible impression on your residency application reader. As a result, you will maximize your odds of being accepted into your desired program!

For foreign medical graduates, landing a U.S. medical residency can be a challenge, but FMG Portal is here to help. Contact us today to find out more about the resources we offer!

 

What NOT To Do on Your Medical Residency Personal Statement

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Previously on the blog, we’ve had a few conversations about the personal statement. In the personal statement planning post, we talked about the importance of brainstorming ideas for your personal statement. Last week, we delved further into personal statement drafting. To recap: when it comes time to draft your personal statement, there are some important things to keep in mind that can help you write an outstanding personal statement — like telling a story, being conscious of your audience, organizing it to optimize fluency, and keeping the statement succinct.

That advice can serve as a foundation for a successful personal statement, but as you write, you need to be careful to avoid certain pitfalls that can derail your personal statement and reduce your chances of getting matched. Here is a list of some things NOT to do on your personal statement:

 

  • Do NOT simply rewrite your CV in paragraph form. On your residency application, you only have a certain amount of space available to demonstrate why you are an excellent candidate for a US medical residency program. If your personal statement only serves to repeat what is already on your CV, it won’t be adding anything to your application. You should choose a few particularly meaningful experiences from your CV and expand on them in greater depth, explaining how exactly they shaped your academic interests and career goals.
  • Do NOT use your medical school application as a template. Many residency applicants make the mistake of simply tacking on a paragraph about a residency to the end of their medical school personal statement. However, residency application readers are more interested in why you chose a particular specialty area — not why you wanted to enter the field of medicine in the first place. They also want to know about your long-term career goals, which should be much more clear than they were when you first applied to medical school.
  • Do NOT focus on political or religious issues. You never know who your reader will be, so you should be careful about discussing controversial topics. If a particular life experience related to politics or religion truly merits discussion — for instance, if you worked on a political campaign or volunteered for a religious charity — make sure to discuss it in a way that highlights how it shaped your experience and demonstrates your suitability for the residency program. Don’t spend time touting the political or religious message. The personal statement should be about you.
  • Do NOT try to be funny. On a personal statement, humor tends to fall flat. While it might be okay to include a witty comment or two, remember that you are discussing a very serious topic: your future training as a physician. You do not want your application reader to think that you are taking the subject lightly. Also, as a foreign medical graduate, there are sometimes cultural barriers when it comes to humor. An obvious joke in your country may be confusing for an American application reader, so it’s usually better not to risk it.
  • Do NOT use abbreviations, jargon, slang, or profanity. Remember that a residency application is essentially a job application, so you need to be professional with your language. You want to let your genuine voice shine through, but you don’t want to come off too casual. Also, abbreviations and jargon might be familiar to you, but they may confuse your application reader and distract from your message. If you need to use an abbreviation for an organization (like a medical society or volunteer group), make sure to spell it out first so your reader knows what you are talking about.
  • Do NOT be too repetitive. Application readers will notice if you use the same words over and over or if you start all of your sentences the same way. Don’t worry about it too much when writing the first draft of your personal statement, but as you read it over, try to find ways to vary your sentence structure. A thesaurus can also come in handy when looking for synonyms.
  • Do NOT try to make your writing too complex. While the last bullet point on avoiding repetitiveness is important, remember that your goal is to explain why you are an excellent candidate for a medical residency — not to impress your application reader by using lots of big words. Especially if English is your second language, stick to words and sentences that are simple, direct, and focused on your topic.

Your personal statement is one of the most important documents in your medical residency application, so it is essential to avoid common mistakes. That way, you can ensure that your reader will remember all of the reasons why you are a good candidate who is well-prepared to succeed in their program.

Need more help with residency placement? FMG Portal offers a wide range of helpful services for foreign medical graduates. Contact us today!