6 Keys to Landing a Fellowship Program Successfully

6 Keys to Landing a Fellowship Program Successfully

Jun 05, 2020 Published by Kathrin O'Neill

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Have you always been meaning to take your medical career up a notch? Taking an international fellowship program might be your next best option. Fellowships of this kind usually last from three months up to a year or more of learning and gathering experience.

Medical fellowships are reserved for doctors who want further training on a sub-specialty field to gain exceptional skills and understanding of that niche. If you’re an anesthesiologist, a medical fellowship could help you further pursue a sub-specialty in that field such as pediatric anesthesiology.

While all of these sounds wonderful, taking a fellowship program entails a lot of work and responsibility. Given the freedom to practice your own methods of medicine, you will be fully accountable for the patient’s safety and well-being. If this is something you’d want to pursue, here are some key elements to consider before taking the dive:

Prioritize your interest

Half-baked pursuits are not ideal for fellowships. If you desire to be in a primary care clinic setting, taking a fellowship will only take you away from this course. Focus is essential if you’re doing specialty training.

Your research should be something that interests you since there will be a notable amount of time dedicated to this activity. It’s also more arduous compared to residency so this is something you should think about first.

Consult with your mentor

Medical residents in their second year might want to get look for mentors and consult them if the fellowship is a good option for you. They might also be able to guide you in taking steps towards earning a medical fellowship.

Mentors will be able to guide you in seeking research projects, introduce you to individuals with this specific sub-specialty, and even write a letter of recommendation to the institution you’re applying for. Most importantly, mentors will be in communication with the interviewers and will be able to give them feedback about you.

Start your journey early

Considering a fellowship program is almost similar to finding the right residency program. You can talk with your colleagues and program director about fellowship programs, attend specialty national meetings and do some independent research. You can look into FREIDA to see if there’s a sub-specialty accredited by the American Council for Graduate Medical Education. Legitimate sites such as MedResidency also offer fellowship listings to get wider search coverage.

After you’ve made your list and narrowed down your options, talk to the program director regularly so they’ll remember you when there’s an opening. You can talk with the staff member of that sub-specialty, chairman, or your program director about your interest in this program. This way, they will be able to help you with your third year of elective and away rotations. They might also be able to point you the right individuals to help you get into your chosen program.

Work on your credentials

And it’s not limited to academic credentials. Program directors are keen on mature and seasoned physicians who will be up for the task. They might not look favorably on applications where you work as a hospitalist or moonlighter for a maximum of two years. However, this might be overlooked if it does not exceed the two-year limit.

Consider your location

It’s best to talk with your family members or partner before taking a fellowship program. As some sub-specialty training require traveling, it might be best to lay all your options first before committing.

Visas are important for international residents who’d want to enroll in a U.S-based fellowship program. Make sure to check whether the visa you have is viable for the institution you are applying to, especially for H-1B visa holders.

Carefully plan your application

By far, the year 2020 got the largest number of applicants for the SMS Fellowship Matches. The numbers may be overwhelming but it is still worth the effort.

Consider what you’d like to say in your application and put some effort into your writing. There could still be some time to decide on the specialty, work on your electives, and network prior to the interview. Though submissions of fellowship applications have a deadline, many program directors may start looking over early submissions. It may speak highly about your time management skills too.

Be honest about your involvement and don’t overplay your participation. Interviewers are usually experts in the field and will be able to see through if you don’t have an in-depth understanding of the subject.

Surprisingly, you also need to include your other pursuits outside medicine and research. Remember that program directors will tire reading the same pieces repeatedly. Since they are considering you to become part of their team, program directors would want to look into your hobbies and other interests. Always keep this part short and interesting.