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Medical Student Electives

February 10, 2012

If you are a student in medical school outside of the US and you are looking to do residency training in the US, I strongly suggest that you do some clinical time in the US while you are still a student. Some medical schools outside the US encourage their students to do rotations abroad. Some medical schools outside the US have agreements with US medical schools. Some students will do rotations between the end of medical school but before their diploma is granted. It is best to do these rotations while you are a final year student.

US clinical experience as a student is extremely valuable because you are part of the team and allowed to follow, examine, speak to and present you own patients. You will find that the US system may be quite different from where you rotated at home.

Further, a rotation (also known as a clerkship) as a medical student is true “hands-on” experience and your evaluations or letters of reference can comment on your clinical skills.

When I was a medical student, I did month long rotations in Ireland, Scotland and Hungary. I came away from my experience rotating in other medical systems with new friends and an appreciation of how some things in hospitals are different but many things are the same. I also saw a lot of interesting cases.

The AAMC provides a list of medical schools that will host students from a medical schools outside the United States.
From the site “Choose the “Search Schools By ‘Geographic Region’ or ‘State/Canadian Province'” option to search by additional criteria, including the presence or absence of application fees for electives, of other tuition/fee charges for electives, or of elective opportunities for students enrolled at international medical schools.”

The schools may charge tuition and you will be responsible for living and travel expenses.

I may be biased but Harvard Medical School offers a terrific student elective program “Harvard Medical School Exchange Clerk Program” that allows final year students from other medical schools to participate in clinical electives at the Harvard Hospitals (Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Brigham and Women’s Hospital or Massachusetts General Hospital).

The views expressed in this post are those of Kenneth Christopher, MD and do not necessarily reflect the views of Dr. Christopher’s employer Partners HealthCare.

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