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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Being a student at a Pakistani medical college myself, I know that to practice in America I will need to have a somewhat competitve application after graduation in order to secure a residency spot in the field of my choice.

After talking to some professors and figuring out what I needed to make myself a competitive applicant I realized that after USMLE scores the two most important things were hands on clinical experience and participating in research electives, both in American hospitals.

So last year I had the chance to visit two US hospitals and participate in a clinical and research elective. The first hospital where I participated was Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, MD.

At that time I was interested in Pediatrics so I went to the Hopkins website and began searching for faculty in the different pediatrics departments and wrote down their names. Then in order to contact them I had to search for their e-mail addresses. The e-mail addresses are not always easy to find and Hopkins' site is no exception. In order to find out the e-mails of the people I wanted to work with, I found this site where I was able to search by doctor name and get a corresponding e-mail address.

After finding e-mail addresses of all the people who I would write to regarding the opportunity for a research elective I drafted an e-mail in which I could change the names of the physicians easily and send out to multiple receipients. In the e-mail I was sure to include:
  1. which year of medical school I was in at the time
  2. how much previous clinical/research experience I had already obtained at my home school
  3. the fact that I would be responsible for all costs associated w/ housing, transportation, and registration (if required)
  4. and that I am very interested in the field in which I am applying and am seriously considering pursuing it as a career choice

All pretty much common sense stuff but from what I've seen, it really does boost your chances in securing a spot. The next thing to do is e-mail as many people in a department or in different departments as you can. You're working on the shotgun approach here---you send out 15-20 e-mails and hopefully will get a response back from about 3-5 of them. Many times doctors are simply too busy to cater to a medical student and therefore the more people you get in touch with, the better your chances are of getting accepted.

Once a doctor e-mails you back expressing interest in having you with his or her department it is your duty to foster that line of communication and maintain it until you actually do go for your elective. Doctors are simply too busy to have the time to follow up after your request for an elective so the name of the game here is persistence. Many times requesting to be put in touch with the doctor's secretary can help you out a lot in figuring out what paperwork you need to send and where's the best place to secure housing.

Be sure to send in all your paperwork as soon as possible and if you require a visa give yourself at least 90 days before you have to go in order to apply (especially if you are male). If you request Johns Hopkins International Student Center to send you an official letter confirming your elective dates, you can submit that as proof to the US Embassy which will make it much easier for you to obtain a B1/B2 Travel Visa.

My experience at Johns Hopkins in the Pediatrics Ophthalmology department was wonderful and I encourage everyone else who is looking for a place to do an elective to apply to Johns Hopkins School of Medicine.

After you've gotten in touch with the doctor you intend to work with, contact the Office of the Registrar via their website and request the paperwork you need to complete in order to be a Visiting Medical Student.

Last but not least, keep in close contact w/ the registrar's office, the physician and the US Consulate and if you get your Visa for travel to the US, you should be all set to arrive at Johns Hopkins and partake in some of the most intriguing and ground breaking research happening in the United States. :p

I apologize if any of this is unclear--I wrote it up in a hurry but please feel free to ask any questions you have!

Also others who have already done research/clinical electives elsewhere, please let us know about them and how you were able to get them!
 

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Nice Rehan! Very informative... I guess after that everything is crystal clear.

I only have one question, though. How long was your stay at John Hopkins and were you asked a lot of questions to test your knowledge? In other words, did they expect you to know a lot and did they put you on the spot or did they just teach you what was important and that was it?

I ask how long was your stay because when I go home on vacation, I only go for about 2 months at a time and during Christmas vacation. So, I wanted to know if they would accept me for that short amount of time?

Something else that occured to me is do they give you some kind of certificate once you're done with the research/elective? If not, how am I supposed to put that in along with my documents such as USMLE score and transcript?
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Natacha said:
How long was your stay at John Hopkins and were you asked a lot of questions to test your knowledge? In other words, did they expect you to know a lot and did they put you on the spot or did they just teach you what was important and that was it?
Hmm well it was sort of both ways. There was a lot of "pimping" (barraging a med student/intern/resident with one question after another) when we were seeing patients on rounds and usually after a patient left when we were in clinic but at the same time they were very helpful in outlining things that I should read every night and if I had a question they would always stop what they were doing and help me better understand it---soooo basically they expect you to know quite a bit but if you don't they just nicely tell you what material you should read and totally help you out.

The Professor I was working with lent me his own textbooks to take home and read! :D

Natacha said:
I ask how long was your stay because when I go home on vacation, I only go for about 2 months at a time and during Christmas vacation. So, I wanted to know if they would accept me for that short amount of time?
I went for 6 weeks so 2 months is plenty of time. Just explain to them that you're doing this during your time off and it should be fine.

Natacha said:
Something else that occured to me is do they give you some kind of certificate once you're done with the research/elective? If not, how am I supposed to put that in along with my documents such as USMLE score and transcript?
After you've finished, Johns Hopkins School of Medicine will have your preceptor fill out an evaluation form which will rate your performance, knowledge and clinical skills, among other things. This will be sent to your home medical college and you can use that as proof or another thing you can do (which I recommend) is to ask your preceptor for a LOR (letter of recommendation) after you have finished your elective with him. Most will be very willing to write you one (since you just worked for free!) and this can go a long way in helping you get an interview for a residency later on.

When people see that official letterhead from Johns Hopkins, they can't help being somewhat impressed! :p
 

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I was a bit confused about this part... Do you mean that the Dr. was constantly throwing questions for you and the other interns and residents to answer?

Hmm well it was sort of both ways. There was a lot of "pimping" (barraging a med student/intern/resident with one question after another) when we were seeing patients on rounds and usually after a patient left when we were in clinic


Also, how about the hours?... How long did you spend in the hospital per day? Was the hours given voluntary or did they give you a specific time for you to come and go? and was it easy for you to find housing? Obviously you were located near the hospital so more or less, how much were the housing over that area? Ok ok... One more question and thats it! lol. While you were at the hospital, did they give you food allowance, by any chance or was that on you also?
Ok, I think I got it all.. :lol:
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Natacha said:
Do you mean that the Dr. was constantly throwing questions for you and the other interns and residents to answer?
Well they're not constantly throwing questions but they do ask questions every now and then to gauge your knowledge but its not the end of the world if you don't know the answer--remember they are there to teach you! Its nothing to really get stressed about...most are really helpful.

Natacha said:
Also, how about the hours?... How long did you spend in the hospital per day? Was the hours given voluntary or did they give you a specific time for you to come and go?
This mostly depends on your preceptor---I was in pediatric ophthalmology so many times I found myself having to wake up at 5 am for morning surgeries that would oftentimes start around 6:30 AM, and then we'd be in the hospital aftewards as late as seven or eight in the evening. Luckily I didn't have evening rounds all that often, otherwise I woulda been there forever!

Housing was provided through the Hospital and it was great---cheap affordable single dorm rooms were provided for the entire length of my elective there--and the best part was that the dorms were right across the street from the hospital. Took 2 minutes to walk out your dorm and into the hospital.

Oh and no food allowance--you're basically on your own on all costs associated with your elective--but its worth it! :p
 
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hi

Hi Rehan

Pretty nice post up there...actually i have been accepted for an elective at JHU in Neurology. The elective is a research elective. Was wondering how you were able to participate in clinical activities being an international student. If i'd read your post before writing to the faculty, i could've done better..had missed writing stuff like clinical experience and the fact that i'd bear all the expenses. Perhaps i would've received more replies had i done that!
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Hey there Neurotic1234!

Welcome to the forum! :D

Also, congratulations on getting a research elective at Johns Hopkins---you'll love your time there!

What happened in my scenario was that I had signed up for a research elective in Pediatric Ophthalmology which was to span six weeks during the summer.

However, my faculty member at JHU was gone for the first week when I arrived there due to him having prior commitments so my six week elective was in reality only five weeks long, which was much too short for any real research work to be completed. Therefore my elective mostly became a clinical one and I was fortunate enough to go on rounds with my faculty advisor and even got the amazing opportunity to assist in eye surgeries right next to the doctor himself.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Well I'd suggest that you first go there and check out the situation and see what the faculty member has scheduled for you to be doing.

If there's a lot of time where you are free, just be persistent and let him know that you're interested in putting your 4 weeks to as much use as possible and working as much as you can. You might get a chance to participate in rounds or be in the OR---what field have you applied in?

Also, making contacts with other doctors in the same department while you're there can prove to be very beneficial---sometimes these other faculty members will invite you to work alongside them if your main faculty advisor doesn't have anything for you to do on a certain day.

Remember, hard work and persistence are the key to showing them that we foreign students are eager and willing to put in the time and effort that they want to see! :D
 
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no scope for working in the OR...elective is in neurology...wanted to do neurosurgery...but they were all committed for that period..nevertheless..something is better than nothing!
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Well there's a lot of overlap at JHU in the neurology/neurosurgery departments. I had a friend who actually was there the same time I was from my school working in neurosurgery and he would go on rounds with the neurology guys quite often and vice versa.

Once you get there, I'm sure you'll meet some neurosurgery guys and will probably have a chance to see a few operations. At least I hope so!

Really hope it works out, and best of luck! :)
 

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ohh lets c..my elective is at the Kennedy Krieger Institute..i guess thats not a part of the Johns Hopkins Neurology Dept...i think its a separate entity..so the chances of workin wid the neurosurgery dept seems very limited.

from wut u said, i presume ur friend wants to do a residency in neurosurg. did the elective at JHU in NS help him? If yes, in wut way was it beneficial?

thanx..ur very fast at replying!
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Neurotic1234 said:
ohh lets c..my elective is at the Kennedy Krieger Institute..i guess thats not a part of the Johns Hopkins Neurology Dept...i think its a separate entity..so the chances of workin wid the neurosurgery dept seems very limited.
Well the Kennedy Krieger Institute is just a fancy name that they gave the building right next to the medical school and the hospital because of some donor who gave so much money they named it after him. In reality, the Johns Hopkins medical school, the hospital, and the Kennedy Krieger Institute are all right next to each other and connected to each other as well. It's all basically the same thing.

I really recommend that you just start volunteering for extra work when you are there--they will really appreciate your enthusiasm and work ethic and will most likely allow you to do more stuff, ie observing an actual surgery, going on grand rounds, etc.

Neurotic1234 said:
from wut u said, i presume ur friend wants to do a residency in neurosurg. did the elective at JHU in NS help him? If yes, in wut way was it beneficial?
I can't stress enough how much it has helped him. Because of his research elective this past summer, his faculty advisor is allowing him to return back for clinical electives in neurosurgery this coming winter, and also just putting that he did a research elective on his CV and that he received an LOR from a faculty advisor at JHU has allowed him to be accepted for electives at the University of Pittsburgh and Mayo Clinic just to name a few. A great LOR from JHU can open doors!

I hope you found this information useful! :p
 

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wow..u mean to say that despite being an international student, he's been allowed to do a clinical elective at JHU??? thats so cool...

hmm..i'll have to find some way to get my foot into the neurosurgery dept somehow..so that i maybe able to do something there in the future like another research elective next year or something.
 

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Thanks for the info Rehan. Very helpful
I want to ask two things: First what were your prof grades, and what effect will they have on the selection for an elective. I don't have any supplys and my grades are good but not extraordinary.
Secondly, I don't think my principal will be that enthusiastic about me going for an elective, especially since we don't get a long summer break (3-4 weeks max), so that makes it hard for me to get that "Dean's Office Letter of Recommendation" to mail to JHU. Any advice on what to do? What was the sitauation at your college?
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
I don't believe your prof scores have much relevance to the Registrar's office at American universities. They care more about whether you've passed or not, which of course you have otherwise you wouldn't be here.

As far as only having a 3-4 week break, I'd try my best to convince your principal to let you miss an extra week or two of school in order to further your chances of a career later on. If you promise to make up the missed rotations or lectures somehow he might be willing to consider it.

At my college I simply spoke to the Student Affairs office which drafted me a letter and had the Dean sign it. Then I faxed JHU a copy of the letter and my prof transcripts and also mailed them the originals.

Anything you send in the mail though, keep a copy of it for yourself---you never know with the Pakistan Post whether its actually going to get there or not, and how long it will take.
 

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You mailed your original transcripts? When did you get them back? Were they mailed to back to you or did you get them when you went to JHU?
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Oh no, sorry, I meant I mailed them copies of my transcripts but mailed them the original letter from my Dean.
 
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