I am a non-US citizen medical graduate from The University of The West Indies in Trinidad and am currently an intern in a Caribbean nation. Although UWI has produced great students, you may not be familiar with it.
I would like to become a surgical resident in the US. I have no US clinical experience, but my USMLE Step 1 score was >235.
What do you think about my doing a post-intern year externship (hands on clinical) as opposed to an observership (just observing) in the US? I know that an externship carries more weight as far as applications go, and the only reason I would want to do either of these would be to get recommendation letters from surgeons in the US.
However, since I have already graduated from medical school, getting into an externship will be more difficult because this will no longer be a medical school rotation. I believe that observerships will be easier to get into but are they worth it?
Do you know of any IMG-friendly programs that facilitate this? Do you think that this is a good idea? Do you feel that I will be able to get an externship?
Other than this idea for externship/observership, I am blank for ways to improve my chances of matching to a US program in surgery. Do you have any suggestions?
Thank you for writing and for reading my blog.
Your USMLE Step 1 score is excellent, but as you stated, the lack of any clinical experience in the US might be a problem.
I'm afraid your plan to do externships may not work out. I do not know of any hospital in this country that supports externships for people who have already finished medical school. The issue is that once you graduate from medical school, you no longer have status as a student. There are medicolegal, educational, and funding considerations that I do not think can be overcome.
I am not sure about the availability or value of observerships. My opinion, which may not be shared by others, is that I see no value in observing. How could anyone write a meaningful letter for you if all you did was watch other people take care of patients?
I am also unable to tell you what a letter from a surgeon who works at a hospital nobody knows is worth.
I hope my readers will have some thoughts for you.