The Importance of U.S. Clinical Rotations for IMGs

The road to becoming a practicing physician in the U.S. difficult, not to mention highly competitive. Taking this road as an international medical graduate can be even more challenging. Like U.S. medical students, IMGs must complete medical school, complete the USMLE, and match into a residency position before they can reach their goal. However, unlike U.S. medical students, IMGs also must master a new, possibly less familiar, language, learn about a complex healthcare system, and adopt new professional customs and knowledge which may be vastly different than what they learned in their home countries. As well as deal with a residency match system that favors USMGs for placements.

Completing U.S. clinical rotations can provide IMGs with the LORs they need to get matched, in addition to providing experience that helps acclimate them to the U.S. medical system and culture; both key pieces in a successful residency and future in U.S. medicine. Here are just a few important reasons to attend U.S. clinical rotations as an IMG:

Allows IMGs to Earn LORs From U.S. Physicians

To apply for the Match, applicants must have at least 3 letters of recommendation. For IMGs, at least one of these letters must be written by a practicing U.S. physician. A U.S. clinical rotation gives individuals the opportunity to obtain such letters. While the letterhead and the affiliations of the physician writing the letter are important, the content of the letter should not be ignored. To receive a great letter of recommendation IMGs should be engaged in their rotation and work to connect sincerely with the physician. Although these rotations are short term, they can help to build long term mentoring and connection.

Provides Experience with the U.S. Healthcare System

Unlike many countries, the U.S. does not have universal healthcare coverage and, as a result, patient treatment and course of care can be affected by insurance providers and other stakeholders. A clinical rotation can give IMGs the opportunities to learn about the U.S. healthcare system and how a lack of coverage can affect the cost of healthcare for patients, the physicians they can see, and the types of care which patients seek out.

Offers a space to practice Clinical Skills and Knowledge

A clinical rotation provides the perfect setting for IMGs to put their studying for the USMLE to practice. In hands-on rotations, individuals can practice light patient interaction, such as the recording of patient histories and taking physical exams. These skills may be tested for during USMLE Step 2 CS.

For those working towards Step 2 CK, an observership or hands-on rotation are good options as they allow individuals to shadow their physician. During this time individuals will be encouraged to ask questions and learn as much as possible.

Helps to Cultivate Professionalism and Communication Skills

Professionalism and physician to patient relationship standards can vary greatly from country to country. A clinical rotation may help IMGs learn how to properly interact with their peers in order to cultivate an environment of respect and trust. It may also help IMGs to learn certain boundaries between physician and patients and good communication skills which can impact patient care and outcomes.

To find clinical rotations, check out AMOpportunities — you can search and apply to 200+ rotation experiences by simply creating an account. For more information on how these short-term, U.S. clinical experiences work, click here

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