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Ask the Program Director: International Rotations

Are international experiences valued in a residency application?

Program Director 1 Response
I believe that interest in international rotations is partly generational, since I know that international medicine is one of the things that many young people studying medicine in the U.S. are interested in. When I was in medical school (1980's) our interest was in practicing in underserved parts of the U.S. as primary care practitioners. The reality is that program directors are looking for people that can tough out a difficult residency and perform well. Interest in international medicine, although fun to talk about, does not necessarily identify ideal residency candidates. If participation in an international rotation helps shows a resident's passion for medicine and it is part of an otherwise excellent application, then it is a good thing.

Program Director 2 Response
Yes and no.

Program Director 3 Response
No.

Program Director 4 Response
Yes, but not over other valuable extracurricular activities.

Program Director 5 Response
Yes, but similar to other extra-curricular activities.

What types of international experiences do program directors prefer to see from an applicant (clinical work abroad, medical courses in other languages, medical mission trips, etc)?

Program Director 1 Response
In some residencies being proficient in medical Spanish is a plus. Programs may value fluency in other languages based on their patient demographics.

Program Director 2 Response
I have no preference.

Program Director 3 Response
It is best to see something that is personally meaningful to the student and that they learned something from the experience, no matter what they were actually doing.

How does an international experience contribute to a candidate´s overall application?

Program Director 1 Response
A great experience adds to the application. The best experience will not get someone a residency that they do not warrant based on the rest of the application.

Program Director 2 Response
An international rotation is unlikely to add to an otherwise strong application, and conversely unlikely to help a weak one.

Program Director 3 Response
It demonstrates a willingness to leave one's comfort zone and try something new, and an open mind toward working with those who are different.

Program Director 4 Response
It contributes a little overall but it is not a huge deciding factor one way or the other.

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Ask the Program Director is a new feature that focuses on providing medical students practical advice to help them navigate the process of obtaining a residency position in internal medicine. Issues covered include: CV development, writing a personal statement, the Match process, residency program interviews, and more.

Back to April 2012 Issue of IMpact

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