The popular proverb, ‘Vaidyo narayano hari’ is used both in respectful and sarcastic tones as well. But doctors in India are generally treated with huge respect in the society. They are considered just one step below the almighty. Often parents of medical students get envious looks from peers whenever the topic crops up. These looks multiply when the medical student has given USMLE and is about to become a Medical Resident in US.
Normally when we interact with medical students, we get many questions regarding USMLE applications, Match, probability of getting a particular residency, Should we do a clerkship?, How tough is Step 2CS etc.., for which we have handy answers. But at times, students who are still debating their career path will put forth this question: “Why USMLE?”
Answering this question is really tricky and usually there is no correct or a standard answer. In this blog-post, we would try to put forth few pointers to answer this question.
Point 1: Numbers;
Point 2: Experience;
Point 3: Personal.
Let’s dive deep into each of those points.
Numbers: Simple plain old numbers.
Yes, it is a costly affair to prepare and give USMLE and get a residency. Also it is not a sure shot. But after getting into residency, the spending comes to almost nil because the entire process of residency is free. The student need not pay any tuition, what-so-ever. And the stipend they get is more than enough to manage living expenses in US.
Experience: Imagine a classroom where an Indian doctor can share his internship experiences with doctors from Brazil and Malaysia while being trained under a senior US doctor. Typical residency programs have 30-40% International Medical Graduates in the class/work place, which will only enhance the worldview and learning experience.
Personal: Last, but every bit an important reason to take USMLE. Residency is not just an academic program for few years. It is a lifestyle and work style for a long time. With all the hulla baloo about reservations, less seats etc in the medical scenario, USMLE is a refreshing breathe to a suffocating student community. One should have a strong desire to work/live in US and have passion to learn over a long period of time. If that is the driving force of an individual, then definitely USMLE is one of the best sojourns he/she can experience.
Finally, to sum it all, the answer to question ‘Why USMLE?’, the answer lies from all external factors like scores and learning experience to very personal choices like where to live. It is a question which has no one correct answer but many correct answer choices.