Setting up ELECTIVES

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So, it is the middle of your 3rd year, 4th year students are coming back from their US electives, and you start thinking “Where do I being setting up my electives?” 

Well don’t panic. In this site I will try to orient you with steps of when you should be doing each particular items to get an elective, but most of all I want to give you reassurance that it is not that difficult to set up your electives, especially if you stay on top of everything 

Step 1. Between the months of January and March, the first thing that you want to do is to find out where you want to go. Now, the ASG website provides you with all past elective done at numerous US and abroad institutions. I would like to point out ahead of time, that some of the institutions listed no longer accept Foreign Medical Students. Why is that…I can’t answer. However, do not deter from that particular school if you know a faculty member there. If you have someone willing to sponsor you especially if you plan on doing a rotation in their department, then they might make an exception. It is never a closed door until you have tried opening all of them. You can also access for a complete list, with links, of medical schools in the US and Canada. Check them out and see if they accept FMS. However, other factors to take into consideration are housing, cost, and travel. 

Many institution especially large ones and in a major city do not provide housing for visiting students. So try to think if you have some old college friends that you can bum off for a month or try to find housing for a month or however long you planning on staying in that city. There are places that will rent in such a fashion, as it is better to get one months rent then nothing. However, your costs are going up as you will have to pay electricity and any other utilities you might need. 

Some hospitals actually charge for their electives. The cost can be as high as $3000 per rotation or as low as $50 just for the application fee. This is another important factor, as you will have to plan accordingly and manage your money. Finances are the most important since you will have to manage paying for food, housing (if you rent a place), gas money or passes for local transportation, and not to mention STEP 2 (CK and CS) and ERAS (which can get expensive).

And lastly, you have to take into account the travel to and from the hospital if you are not near it, and travel between rotations. Unless you have a car like a Maluch or hybrid, you will burn a lot of gas and cash. You will also have to give yourself adequate time to go from one rotation to the next. Avoid setting up a rotation in Chicago, which ends on a Friday, and then starting a new rotation in New York on Monday, unless you own a private jet. 

Step 2. OK, so you have figured out where you want to go and which rotations you want to do. Great. Get in touch with that school, usually via email, and have them send you the application. Now, these are the standard materials they request to be attached to the application:

1.      Filled out application with or without application fee

2.      Transcript

3.      Vaccination proof of: MMR, Polio, Varicella proof/titers, HBV vaccination/titers, PPD and if positive (especially if you had BCG) do CXR.

4.      Malpractice Insurance Proof

5.      Letter of good standing from Vice Dean or Dean

6.      USMLE Step 1 and Letters of Recommendation 

So, #1 is easy… you TYPE or Print it and if you have a checkbook handy, write them a check out for the amount requested. If you don’t have one, you can either go to Western Union on Fredry and have them make one out to you, or mail the application to your parents who will attach the check to it and send it to the school. 

#2. Transcript…Deans office will give you 3 or 5 transcripts without charge. Now, for the most part you will be sending this out prior to finishing two courses like IM or Surgery and definitely Psychiatry. Thus, you can request that they write in “PENDING” in the grade field, and send that out to the school. The institution you are applying to to needs to see that you are in the middle of your courses. Even with “pending” written, the institution can asks for a completed transcript, so be prepared to deliver it to them. Now, make sure that you have all the grades from 1st and 2nd year or the dean will not issue or even sign your transcript, not to mention your application. 

#3. Vaccination proof. Now this is a little tedious so you might want to pay attention to it. If you have all the proof in the US then have your physician fill it out and then attach it to your application. That is as simple as you can get, but unfortunately, a lot of times, they request that you still have titers done for all the ones that I have listed above and then some other ones (depending on the school). There is a place in Poznan, which will test your HBV Ig and Ag, HCV Ig, VZV Ig, and RUBELLA Ig, Now, it will cost about 300 zloty and you will have the results in about a week. I advise that you go there with someone who speaks Polish, since they don’t. Click on titers for address and directions

 #4. Proof of Malpractice is very simple. Go to the Deans office and have them give you a copy of the Insurance Policy with your name on it. If the Deans office does not have any, email the New York office and have them fax over a cleaner looking copy with your name on it. You can choose to have it faxed to the Deans office or to the ASG office and we will inform you when it comes in. The ASG fax machine number is (48-61)869-4450.

#5. Letter of Good Standing. This is nothing elaborate, but a statement that you have completed or are in the process of finishing your current studies, that you have not been in any problems at the school, and such stuff. I think Vice Dean has one on file and will gladly give you one after he reviews your folder and checks that everything is completed. Again, I want to stress to make sure that all the exam cards are in and signed.

#6. USMLE Step 1. If you haven’t taken it by the time you are applying for your electives, and a particular institution requires it, then I would hold of on the application. Hold of until you have taken and passed your Step. You can also, talk with the institution and find out if they will accept you, pending the results of your Step 1 examination. As for the Letter of Rec, it is information that hopefully will convince the elective board or who ever is making the decision that you are worthy of acceptance. You should get these from doctors that you meet in clinics not only for the purpose of electives, but also for the Match Program.

Last thing, triple check everything. You don’t want to send out an application that is missing a signature somewhere and have it be returned to you.

Step 3.  Sending you application is another matter. I would advise you to be in contact with the Electives Coordinator. Email them asking if the elective is still open before you send the application. If it is open, tell them to put your name on the list and that you are sending your application to them. Be aware that this might not work for all the places. However, most places will tell you when you can start sending them in. Some places have an open date and others have very strict dates. So, make sure you write down somewhere on a large piece of paper the deadlines for all your applications. For the most part, you want to send your application in the months of May and June. Just remember, the sooner you do it, the more likely that you will get your choice. If you postpone, you face the reality of having to forgo your elective and picking something that you might not like.

Once you send in all the material, all you have to do now is sit back, finish Psychiatry, and await notification of elective approval. In case you get a letter stating that you did not get that elective, call or email and see why, and ask if other alternative rotations are available. 

To the students of the 6 year program. I am aware that you have a slightly different schedule, but I know that you too have time to do electives. Basically, follow the step that I have outlined above and the only matter that will concern you the most is when you can set up the electives. At the current time, your 5th year ends by mid June and you do not resume classes until October. Therefore, you should plan to do electives in the months of July, August and September. Currently, the 6th year of the Class 2004 managed to get additional time off in the months of January and February. If you can set up a similar schedule, then you can potentially also do another month or two of rotations then. Also, for you transcript, you will have to have the deans office put “credit” (if you only have to the final test) or “pending” (if you still need to complete another portion of IM/Surgery) as your courses are broken up between years. Lastly, as I have repeatedly mentioned above, make sure that you keep an eye out on the deadlines.  

This should help you with setting up electives. It is a guide and you don’t have to stick to it 100%. Something’s always goes astray. Remember, don’t panic and plan ahead. Also, when you are doing the electives, at the end of each rotation, you will have to have the attending or a physician with whom you worked closely fill out an evaluation form. That form can be obtained at the Deans office prior to you leaving Poland or download it from the ASG website. 

Now, to the few individuals who like to wait to the last minute, guess what, even you can get it as long as you have most of Step 2 done especially Transcript and the Letter of Good standing. If you are in the US or Canada, and you don’t have that…it may make things a little challenging and time crunching since mail takes forever to come from Poland to North America. 

If you still have questions, ask an upper classman and I am sure that they will be happy to fill you in on any additional detail. 

Good Luck,

Michal Wojtysko

ASG Representative, Class 2004


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