Returning back to Clinical Roots

By Sasmit Sarangi

A large number of IMGs often have a break between graduating and joining a residency program. It is very common to at least go through the application phase and interviews after graduating from medical school. In my case, I worked for nearly two years in a research position before I applied for residency positions this year. One thing that I think helped ease my transition back into the hospital was that I did a three-month observership after the completion of my research position. I really believe this helped me get back in the right frame of mind for residency.

All of us hope that we will be great at what we do, but doubts are very natural in the process of medical training. Just before I started my observership, I was feeling somewhat insecure, and I was having some doubts about my ability to perform in the hospital environment. I wondered if I could recall and adequately apply the skills that I had put on ice for the last two years.

I was lucky to have an opportunity to work with some great people during my observership, and the process really helped me put my fears to rest. Getting back to work with a team to uncover a patient’s diagnosis and determine a course of management was very satisfying and a timely reminder about the great value in our line of work.

I specifically remember an instance during which I managed to raise the possibility of an acquired angioedema secondary to a low-grade lymphoma in a patient with AIDS. Of course, as much as I like to brag about my rare disease-diagnosing superpowers, it didn’t really help the patient in his management. As my attending gently reminded me, he would get the most benefit from greater compliance with his HAART medication. The big picture definitely put a dampener on my “shining moment.” I really enjoyed the rest of my observership and one patient even expressed disappointment that he wouldn’t meet me on his next scheduled follow-up.

At the end of my observership, it was really satisfying to receive good feedback from several attendings with whom I had worked. This feedback helped me to realize that my fears of returning to the clinic were unfounded. Now, I am really looking forward to getting an opportunity to manage patients again as a resident.

Those of us who have spent some time away from the hospital need to remember what we liked about the experience to begin with. While you may experience a few problems getting back into the grind, the most important thing is your desire to return. As the saying goes, “It’s just like riding a bike.” Remember, you’re not alone! Many other IMGs and MD/PhD students as well, go through this same process every year.


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