Untapped Opportunities for International Medical Students

Did you know that volunteering provides untapped opportunities for international medical students. Volunteering at various healthcare related events can help you with your residency.  I'm elaborating on volunteering because it'll help your resume gain a boost, hence, it will make you look good for the residency programs that you will apply to.

Volunteering will help you in various ways including, but not limited to:

  • Meeting new people, hence, increase your network for opportunities
  • Gaining new experiences
  • Increasing your skills that is related to the volunteering program (ex. helping out in a blood bank will help you in your phlebotomy skills).
Where do you go to volunteer:
  • Volunteermatch.org
  • Hospital-hosted events, like health fairs
  • Blood banks
  • Private Clinics
If you are doing rotations in Chicago, don't miss out on the opportunities to volunteer because you ever know how it'll help you in gaining a good residency spot, let alone a residency spot.
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Personal Statement for Residency Programs

Wring a personal statement can be a daunting task as it must be be carefully conducted and reviewed over and over again to have the right tone for residency program directors to notice it.  I didn't know how important a person statement was until I had to research about it.  Your school may also need your personal statement before writing the MSPE letter (Dean's letter).  Apparently it does carry a lot of weight because the personal statement is not based on any test scores or on any subjective perception from attending doctors or other people.

The personal statement should not be taken lightly as it could make you or break you when residency program directors read it. Some programs may give your personal statement a high priority and other programs may not, either or you want to be on the safe side and make the best out of your personal statement.

The following are some questions I gathered from researching online that could help you in writing your personal statement:
  • Why are you interested in the field you've chosen?
  • What are you looking for in a residency program?
  • What are your professional goals in the field you've chosen?
  • Why should a residency program select you?
  • What accomplishments should emphasize?
  • What contributions can you make to field you've chosen?
  • What contributions can you make to the residency program?
Other things to consider when wriring your person statement are as follows:
  • Make sure you have proper grammar on your statement as it will define professionalism.  
  • Choose your diction wisely.
  • Keep the length in 1 page or less, but not too less.
  • Make sure it's high quality.
  • Review it over and over again. Also have at least 3 people, preferably medical students or doctors, to read it to give you a feed back of what they think.
The American Medical Association (AMA) have provided recommendations for writing a personal statement. Take a look at the AMA's page, it has a sample of the personal statement.

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Residency Preparation and Checklist

Whenever you are getting ready for residency, keep in mind that it's going to be a lot of work.  I'm still trying to get my studying as I still need to take care of my board exams.  Also, taking the exam and getting the scores back in time is going to be an issue because it's better for the residency programs to have all of your USMLE scores in their hands by the time of the application.  Also, make sure to get your letters of recommendation (LORs) very early, do not delay on that because attending doctors take forever to write them.

So far this is what my check list looks like.
  1. Get ERAS Token
  2. Get NMRP Token 
  3. Get AAMC ID; it's usually the same as the MCAT for those who took the test before medical school.
  4. Get USMLE Transcripts
  5. Get MSPE (Deans Letter from school)
  6. Create a resume for residency program directors
  7. Letters of recommendation
  8. Write a personal statement
  9. Research on states that accept SJSM graduates
  10. Research residency programs
  11. Call up residency programs to see if they would accept my credentials
  12. Apply for ECFMG certification

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