Posts Tagged 'international medical graduates'

Challenges in the First Year of Residency

Dedicated to the success of international medical graduates (IMGs) and international medical students, AmeriClerkships Medical Society helps these individuals become competitive candidates for residency programs. AmeriClerkships has placed more than 700 candidates to date, 200 of which have gone into first-year programs.

While medical school is extremely rigorous, students often find that their first postgraduate year, or the intern year, presents a host of new and even greater challenges. Medical graduates become experienced physicians only by meeting these practical and theoretical challenges, which include handling a broader patient caseload and having greater responsibility for their patients’ care. Meeting these challenges requires knowing enough about each patient to advise staff in an emergency while also understanding when and how to seek support.

Residents should know how to use clinical decision support tools available in the hospital and should be aware of all chains of command that are in place. Hospitals have a distinct hierarchy and are staffed with professionals who have many years of experience, and residents can learn much by relying on the expertise of the care team. However, residents will also need to know when to research a particular condition and strengthen their own knowledge, as well as how to balance this self-education with the many administrative, clinical, and data analysis duties that come along with finally being a practicing physician.

Key Tips for Successful Residency Interviews

AmeriClerkships: The Role of International Medical Graduates in American Primary Health Care

International medical graduates (IMGs) play a key role in the American primary health care system. While American medical graduates traveled to Europe in the late 19th and 20th centuries to learn new medical techniques, starting at around the time of World War II, IMGs began similarly seeking ongoing medical education and experience in the United States. While many IMGs return to their home countries with their new knowledge, a significant portion remain in America, where they fill many of gaps present in the American medical system. Approximately 25 percent of the U.S. physician population consists of IMGs, up from around 10 percent in 1963. Approximately 78 percent of those IMG physicians work in patient care, with around 75 percent of those doctors working in office-based practices.

IMGs have a greater likelihood of receiving training in internal medicine, family medicine, or other primary care fields than United States medical graduates (USMGs). A full 60 percent of first-year residents in family care are IMGs. Likewise, IMGs are more likely than USMGs to provide care in rural and underserved areas of the country. As physicians, they also tend to maintain a much stronger understanding of multiculturalism, which can help them serve their patients more effectively.

About AmeriClerkships: AmeriClerkships programs can help fill the growing need for IMGs in American primary care practices. The organization matches IMGs with physicians for pre-residency clinical training. This education serves as a valuable prerequisite for enrollment in American residency programs.

AmeriClerkships: International Medical Graduates in American Residency Programs

In general, international medical graduates prove an invaluable asset to residency programs, strengthening them through diversity. These individuals offer a unique perspective, insight into a different system of values and beliefs, and an understanding of different forms of medicine. Unfortunately, Americans often associate “different” with “inferior.” As a result, many American medical graduates gravitate toward programs that do not accept many international graduates, believing them to be superior in some way. In reality, American medicine will remain forever indebted to the contributions of international medical graduates. In addition, these individuals often perform better than graduates of American institutions.

Unfortunately, international medical graduates still struggle to gain acceptance into American residency programs, largely due to prejudice, difficulties with visas, and a dearth of residency spaces. Once in a program, they often face discrimination from other residents, staff members, practicing physicians, and patients. Language often proves a significant barrier, especially when communicating with patients. While international medical graduates certainly possess excellent English writing and speaking skills, things such as regional differences, slang, and idioms prove difficult to understand. In addition, body language varies dramatically between cultures, requiring that the international students continue to learn American English expressions in addition to practicing their medical skills.

International medical graduates also struggle with differences in the medical education system, and Americans may mistake their deference for shyness or ignorance. Foreign graduates require time and guidance to grow accustomed to questioning their teachers and interacting with other students in a team-based learning environment, an educational system that remains largely American. For this reason, international medical graduates may want to research programs with instructors who have dealt with students from foreign countries extensively. These teachers generally understand how to encourage active participation from international students, and they have furthermore conquered their own biases against foreign education. International students may also want to make their intentions about education clear. While some come to the United States in order to stay and practice medicine, many plan to return to their respective countries and improve the medical systems there. Others may wish to do both.

About AmeriClerkships

International medical graduates can gain invaluable experience with the American medical system prior to enrolling in a residency program through AmeriClerkships. Clinical trainees work closely with attending physicians and other medical professionals, and later they receive an assessment and feedback about their performance. With AmeriClerkships, international medical graduates gain a strong competitive edge in the residency application process.

AmeriClerkships: Challenges for International Medical Graduates in the United States

Numerous physicians who graduate from foreign universities wish to practice medicine in the United States. Many countries do not have the resources necessary for the efficacious practice of medicine, mostly due to economic constraints. By choosing to complete residencies in the United States, medical graduates learn about the most cutting-edge medicines and techniques. Americans spend more money on medical development and research than any other country, making the United States an ideal place for physicians to further their careers. Unfortunately, these medical professionals often face a number of challenges, beginning with gaining acceptance into a residency program. Places in American residency programs are limited, and competition has become exceedingly fierce in recent years. Before applying, international medical graduates must obtain a travel visa to complete an exam and then secure an additional visa after finding a suitable program.

Once an international medical graduate arrives at his or her place of residency, the student faces a number of other hardships. In addition to dealing with possible prejudice, the individual must struggle with different customs, new cultural concerns, a foreign language, and an altered value system. In the end, however, the student must remember that diversity means strength and that these initial struggles will prove invaluable assets in the future. An average of one in four residents participating in a given program in the U.S. studied internationally, and facilities have grown accustomed to easing transitions. Still, the student must remain proactive, seeking help and guidance whenever necessary. Often, international medical graduates feel completely overwhelmed by the transition to the United States, but they must retain the confidence that got them through medical school. They experienced success in their respective countries and can do so again. Eventually, the feeling of foreignness fades as an individual becomes accustomed to a new culture and embraces new conventions.

The most important piece of advice that anyone can offer is to never fear asking for help and seeking out those organizations created to ease the transition, offer guidance, and address concerns before they become real problems. International medical graduates are not alone in facing the challenges of finding a residency, emigrating, and adapting to life in the United States.

About AmeriClerkships

In order to give international medical graduates an advantage in the residency application process, AmeriClerkships pairs qualified individuals with attending physicians for pre-residency clinical training. After each clinical block, supervisors evaluate program participants according to the 11 medical competencies that they use to assess residents. Many residency programs now expect international medical graduates to pursue such training, making AmeriClerkships an invaluable asset for these students.


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