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Med Students

Medic-ALL (28:11:2014) 
Pursuing U.S Residency by Dr. Yomi Ogunderu

So, you’ve either finished medical school or still in medical school and are planning the next career step. This could either be a life changing or life damning experience depending on how you approach it. You don't have to fret you have got company. I was once like you, a few years ago.

I took my Physician’s Oath in January 2009  
and I was ecstatic about starting my internship at a choice teaching hospital. One thing I wish I was informed or encouraged to do was to dream big and pursue my  dream to fruition. Everyone in life deserves that opportunity to give their best shot or get a shot at improving or increasing their chances of a better future/career.

If you have made up your mind to further your career in any country other than the US, this piece is not for you, just ignore. But, if you are prepared to go through   the emotionally/financially  demanding process of achieving a coveted residency position in the US ,enjoy the ride with me .
I will make it simple here, but if you need more information,you can contact me directly or through the blog owner.

First step,
Explore the  ECFMG  (Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates) website, follow all the instructions and register for the Usmle exams; The Step 1, 2CK  and  Step 2CS can be taken  in any order .You must pass all three exams in order to be ECFMG certified (hence qualified to apply for residency).

So,what materials do you need ? 
I always recommend to candidates not to read all the readables in the world, especially concerning step 1, YOU WON'T SIT FOR A MORE DIFFICULT EXAM! The latest First Aid for Usmle text is a treasure, perhaps the best text ever written by man ,then you might have to  fork out some bucks to practice with usmleworld /Kaplan qbanks. People claim both are useful but I am a uworld fan.

Step 2 Ck and CS have different books out there in the market, but Master the Boards by Conrad Fischer TRUMPS THEM ALL! It is simple and well written.
Now ,you have completed the documentation process with ECFMG  and taken the exams, at this point ,you are obviously broke from travelling to Ghana/London /US for the exams and sometimes ,you might not even get a visa for the step 2 CS hence u might have to take a detour and reorder/redo your this point I recommend PLAB  to folks I’ve spoken with.

After you achieve the ECFMG certification, the next obstacle is applying for a residency program, wait and hope for interviews.
What determines if you will get interviews: 

1. Usmle scores (High Scores)
2. Visa status  I.e are you a foreigner or US citizen/permanent resident 
3. Recommendations  from peers/US based ( or trained ) physicians
4. Your personal statement  
5. Plus/minus US clinical experience.
If there is one thing you need to take away from this piece, it is TO SCORE AS HIGH AS YOU CAN in the USMLE! Aim for the maximum score ,it is YOUR STRONGEST RECOMMENDATION. I wish you strength for the journey ahead for the voyage is perilous!

Yomi Ogunderu
IM Resident
Unity Health Systems,
Rocheshester, New York

Edited by Dr.Kuku Kayode

Letter to New Medical Students
By Sue Hall

Dear new medical student:
Congratulations! You are about to embark upon an exciting, life-altering experience, one you will never forget. You are about to join an elite group of people who will now be your peers going forward.
You will be continually fascinated, and not a single day will go by from now until you retire that you aren’t challenged by something you have never encountered before. You will be solving problems and thinking, using your brain for the good of your fellow human beings.
It will be difficult though. Some days you will scream, some days you will cry, some days you will want to crawl under the covers and never get out of bed. Some days you will eat too many donuts or chocolate, some days you will drink too much coffee, and some days you may have one too many glasses of wine.
You will be challenged to your fullest, but you will rise to the challenge. An important thing to remember is to take care of yourself.  Adopt work-life balance as your mantra, even when there are unceasing demands on your time. It is very important to take time away, to give your mind a rest, and to restore your soul. You will be involved in some completely heartbreaking cases. You will have to learn how to process these without completely shutting off your emotions, or being overwhelmed by them.
It takes time. Be kind to yourself.  Make some good friends who are doctors. You will need them for support as you go through your career. They will be the only ones who really understand the different pressures you will face in your life; sometimes they will be the only ones you can talk to about certain experiences.
Pay attention to details; they may hold the key to a diagnosis. Never fake data when you are presenting in rounds if you don’t know it. Think beyond the obvious. Never assume your diagnosis is correct until it is confirmed. Always have other ideas in your differential diagnosis and a plan B for treatment if plan A is not working.  You will make mistakes. You could even contribute to someone’s death. Again, be kind to yourself. Everyone makes mistakes and the system is set up so that hopefully someone will catch your mistakes before they reach the patient. Thank them profusely when they do.
Never think you know it all or become arrogant. Remain humble, remain open to learning, and above all, become a team player. Respect the nurses and ask their opinions. They spend hours at a patient’s bedside and you will only spend minutes. They are skilled observers; you need the information they can give you. Treat them right.  Remember that people will be watching you constantly and judging you. The nurses will be trying to decide if they’d want you to be their doctor. Try to be the kind of doctor they would want for themselves or their families, and the kind of doctor you would want for your loved ones.
Kindness counts, both towards your patients and towards the rest of the health care team. Remember that your reputation will follow you, and actually in many cases it will precede you. Do everything you can to maintain a good one.
Share your knowledge. People will appreciate you for it, especially the nurses. Learn to talk with patients and their families in ways they can understand, and in ways that show you care. It’s okay to hold your patient’s hand and to cry with your patients. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.
Medicine has become very high tech, but it all really harkens back to a basic principle: First, do no harm. Don’t do tests or procedures if they aren’t needed. Don’t experiment on your patients. Don’t be callous or rude, because this can harm the spirit. And when our technology fails to give us the tools to provide the cures our patients are seeking, what we have left to give is ourselves and our time. The most important thing we can do is pledge to accompany our patients on their journeys, wherever it may lead them, even if it is to their grave. Be not afraid, you can handle it. It takes time and practice, but you will grow into it.
Being a doctor is a huge responsibility, and unfortunately sometimes shouldering that responsibility will take a personal toll on you. I for one think it’s worth it because we have chances every day to make a positive difference in the lives of our patients and their families. Develop relationships with them. Care about them. Try not to let the tough ones burn you out or turn you off. Have compassion. As I hope you already know, not everyone has had the advantages in life that you have. And some people just plain have bad luck.
With much admiration for your courage in selecting this career,

A seasoned doctor

Sue Hall is a neonatologist.


  1. Nice letter. wish i could get a hard copy of the letter, hang it beside my bed and read it whenever i am getting stressed with the medical training

  2. There is indeed a lot to learn from those who are ahead of us in the profession.


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