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year off before residency?

Discussion in 'Surgery and Surgical Subspecialties' started by jimmythegent3, Nov 30, 2008.

  1. jimmythegent3

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    I am currently a MS3 thinking about taking a year off after medical school before residency. I want to go to the developing world and work/volunteer out there. What's the general outlook by residency directors and admissions staff on this choice. I don't really care about bolstering my credentials but I'm worried that this will decrease my competitiveness for getting into residency. I've gotten mixed feedback so far so please let me know.
     
  2. logistic

    2+ Year Member

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    There are options for shorter stints internationally, check these out. A couple of people I know have gone on surgical missions in Africa. I don't know any more information about this, but perhaps you might want to do some research/speak with your deans office. You could probably get it counted as a clinical elective.
     
  3. BlondeDocteur

    10+ Year Member

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    Hi Jimmy--

    I would caution against it, for two reasons.

    1) We'll get the boring logistical one out of the way first: applying for the Match is infinitely easier, and more successful by every metric, when you are a senior medical student rather than an independent applicant. You will match, and match better, and match with less stress, if you don't take a year off.

    2) As a newly-minted MD without a day of residency training you are dangerous. You should not, under any circumstances, present yourself as a physician if you do seek out a position abroad, but rather as a medical student. If you can accept that continuation of almost-doctor status, then I'd say you should take off a year between MS-3 and MS-4. Apply for the Fogarty or the International Doris Duke fellowships, or the CDC Hubert Fellowship.

    If you cannot accept that 'demotion'-- if you feel that you are actually competent enough to treat patients immediately after graduating, even though in the United States you would be charged with practicing without a license, then your trip abroad is about you, not about helping anyone.

    That, I'm sure, sounded harsh. But think about it-- if your heart is burning to help the developing world, why delay your training-- your definitive ability to help-- by another year? Think of what you could do in 3 years, or 5, versus what you could do next year. I'd encourage you to seek out residency programs that have established international electives, or even try to earn an MPH during a lab year. Surgery is slowly but surely coming around to the perspective that medicine, peds and FP have had for years-- that international exposure is a very valuable adjunct to clinical training in the States.

    Surgery programs off the top of my head with such a perspective include UCSF, Mt Sinai, and Brown. Lots of others have electives in the pipeline.
     
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  4. maxheadroom

    maxheadroom Rhinestone Cowboy
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    While it's rare, I agree with Blondie. As a recent MD, you are more dangerous than useful -- that's why you see lots of threads on SDN where the common advice to interns is "load the boat" and "listen to your senior residents".

    It is the height of hubris and cultural racism to think that you as a new MD are of real use to people in the third world. Follow Yoda's advice and complete your training -- only then will you be qualified to truly help people in need in other parts of the world.

    Go do your residency. Do international electives where you have appropriate supervision. Then, when you are qualified, you can join MSF or one of the other missions organizations that ethically sends trained physicians into the field where they can give patients the best possible care in suboptimal circumstances.
     
  5. Winged Scapula

    Winged Scapula Cougariffic!
    Staff Member Administrator Physician Faculty Lifetime Donor Verified Expert Verified Account 15+ Year Member

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    What the above have written is true.

    It will not bolster your credentials enough to make up for any red flags on your application to residency. You will be one year away from medical school and all that much less competitive.

    You will not be able to do anything very useful to the people whom you are attempting to serve.

    Take a year off during medical school if you like for such school or institution sponsored sojourns but to do it after you graduate but before you have any real training or knowledge helps no one.
     

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