Short White Coat is a blog about learning to be a doctor. Posts appear here as part of White Coat Notes. Ishani Ganguli is a fifth-year Harvard medical student. E-mail her at email@example.com.
On my weekend travels exploring Guatemalaís gorgeous natural offerings (Caves! Volcanoes! Giant lakes! Smaller pools!), Iíve gotten to meet a mix of international medical students on their own final-year electives.
Residency applications arenít the first topic of conversation, but they come up eventually. Which is how I heard that this is a big two weeks for the Brits. On Monday Oct 11, students applying to foundation programmes (the British equivalent of residency) learned the questions they must answer for 60 percent of their ranking score. They had until today to submit their responses.
Later this year, theyíll be ranked within their medical school based solely on their graded 200-word answers to each of those five questions and class grades (40 percent). These ranks determine if they get their first, or 20th, choice of foundation programme.
The Brit students Iíve talked to bemoan the seemingly arbitrary quantification of their ability to wax eloquent and the paucity of data points on which theyíre judged -- especially in a competitive year
In the States, in contrast, our application files are quite a bit thicker -- in addition to grades and the personal statement
, they include a curriculum vitae, three or four letters of recommendation, a summative Deanís Letter, and (for the selected few) interviews.
I like that our British counterparts are forced to think of personal and observed examples of multi-disciplinary teamwork and cultural sensitivity -- topics that certainly merit attention when selecting doctors. Our personal statement prompts, in comparison, are quite vague.
But I must say that Iím comforted by US programsí proclivity for information, both as an applicant and as a patient in our health system. Knowing more about the doctors we train, from multiple angles, can only help ensure that they (we) are both competent and genuine.