Medical Internship In Usa For International Students

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Not being a US citizen, I faced hurdles in applying to US medical schools. Now that I have it, I want to help others like me

International students struggle to find the help they need to get into health professional schools in the US. I created F-1 Doctors to change that.

Medical Internship In Usa For International Students

Asan Sahir Virji, MPH, an MD/MBA candidate at Harvard Medical School and Harvard Business School, started F-1 Doctors to help connect international students applying to medical school in the United States with mentors.

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This was the advice I received as a high school student in Tanzania when considering where to apply to college. My counselor made it clear that my chances of getting into a US medical school were slim, especially since few schools accepted international students. Also, as a low-income student, my advisor warned me that a medical degree in the United States was not financially feasible. Anyway, I decided to take my chances.

Since childhood I wanted to be a doctor. While shadowing under-resourced Tanzanian communities, I saw people in my country suffer chronic illnesses related to delayed treatment of infectious diseases such as malaria. I wanted to make sure my Tanzanian friends – especially those living in low-lying areas – got the right care in a timely manner. I saw medical education in America as an opportunity to fill the current knowledge gap. Learning innovative ways to prevent the spread of disease and prevent re-infection was something I wanted to study in the United States and implement in Tanzania. I am also determined to help advance the cutting-edge research, diagnosis and treatment of diseases plaguing my country.

To attend a US medical school, the first step was to graduate from a US university. Having never set foot in the United States, I applied to colleges across the country that not only accepted non-US citizens, but offered financial aid to cover the cost of attendance. I was accepted to Yale University, where I majored in molecular, cellular, and developmental biology—a degree that fulfilled most of the prerequisite requirements. To strengthen my application, I conducted over two years of research on malaria and other parasitic infections, culminating in an internship at the World Health Organization’s Malaria Program. Eventually, I took graduate courses in college and another year at the Yale School of Public Health after earning a master’s degree in public health.

I vowed that if I ever attend medical school, I will do my part to make sure the next generation of immigrant doctors are supported, get the guidance they need to apply, and have people to look up to.

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But when it came time to apply to medical school, I was disappointed that there were few resources available to help students like me. Although I sometimes relied on blogs and informal sites to confirm my candidacy, I searched a lot online for information. However, questions about medical school visas, financial aid for international students, and the possibility of applying remain unanswered. Doubt began to creep in as I wondered if my mentor had been right all along, and if this path I had started would end prematurely.

While searching online, I came across a website that said how many international students were admitted to medical school each year, but didn’t seem to have any way to contact those students. Instead, I found myself navigating the process alone, discouraged by the lack of a mentor. I vowed that if I ever attend medical school, I will do my part to make sure the next generation of immigrant doctors are supported, get the guidance they need to apply, and have people to look up to.

In the summer of 2017, I began taking the necessary steps to submit my medical school application for the following year. The websites of dozens of medical schools in the United States have begun checking whether they accept international applicants and whether international students are eligible for financial aid, including institutional loans. In fact, many US medical schools do not accept international applicants, and international students make up only about 0.6% of US medical school enrollment. Trying to find schools that offered financial aid to go to medical school was even more frustrating. Being home in Tanzania for the summer means South Africa is the closest place I can take the MCAT® test. I was lucky enough to be approved for a loan to cover the cost of the exam and application. One of the most stressful experiences was figuring out if I could work over the summer to pay off this financial burden without jeopardizing my visa status or my ability to work after medical school.

I was pleased to receive financial aid packages for each of the three medical schools in the US. The journey was an emotional roller coaster from the start.

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Our mission is to foster a community of foreign-born healthcare workers who lift each other up through a free, online, peer-to-peer mentoring platform. We want to dispel myths about applying as a non-US citizen and confirm that international students are accepted into health professional schools and that financial aid is available.

After being accepted, I immediately turned my attention to creating a pathway for future immigrant doctors. Fortunately, while posting about my trip on Twitter, I met two other international medical students at Brown University’s Warren Alpert Medical School: Ben Gallo Marin and Gazel Aghagoli. U.S. Together we built F-1 Doctors, a web-based platform to help non-citizens apply to US health profession schools.

F-1 physicians, designated by the type of visa international students are eligible for, provide guidance, resources and visibility to non-US applicants for health career programs. The platform offers resources specific to applying as an international student, including webinars, a custom Excel spreadsheet of medical schools that accept international students and their financial aid policies, and links to private institutions that offer loans to non-US citizens.

In just one year, F-1 doctors have grown from less than 20 consultants to more than 130 representing 44 countries from various health sectors. Many of our mentors are eager to help students embarking on a journey similar to theirs, so if you’d like this resource during the application process.

As A Non U.s. Citizen, I Faced Hurdles Applying To U.s. Medical Schools. Now That I’ve Made It, I Want To Help Others Like Me

For students in medical school in the United States or abroad, F-1 physicians also provide mentors to help students navigate the path to residency.

To my surprise, the challenges of providing care to rural Tanzania are similar to those in the lowlands of the United States: different countries with similar geographic and economic constraints.

For international students who graduate from a health professions school in the United States, the decision to remain in this country or return to their home country is a personal one. For those who wish to remain in the United States, F-1 physicians can be instrumental in strengthening the pipeline of healthcare professionals who represent this country’s diverse patient population. In recent years, although the population of the United States has become more culturally diverse, healthcare workers have lagged behind in representation. This can have a negative impact on patient care, as research shows that patients are more likely to follow medical recommendations when those recommendations come from a physician who can relate to the patient socially, culturally, and linguistically.

Others treat their dual identity as a newly formed career. In fact, many medical schools invest in global health experiences for students to reinvest in their home communities – something international students often undertake. Some residency programs followed suit. The Doris and Howard Hiatt Residency in Global Health and Internal Medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital helps build an army of global physicians and offers those who wish to serve in many countries.

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In my case, my commitment to serving my fellow Tanzanians as a physician and building measurable interventions to improve access to care remains unabated. However, during my time in the United States, I learned that the work done to prevent the progression of chronic diseases due to lack of access to health care transcends geographic boundaries. To my surprise, the challenges of providing care to rural Tanzania are similar to those in the lowlands of the United States: different countries with similar geographic and economic constraints. I like to split my time between the two countries I now call home, working towards the same goal of improving healthcare accessibility.

Regardless of the career choice pursued by non-US citizens, many are like me with dreams of becoming health care professionals to create change in unequal distribution.

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