Clinical Registration Checklist

The transition from Basic Sciences to Clinical Sciences can be a challenge for many students. For the first time in nearly two years of being together, your class is now dispersed and you find yourself isolated from your friends and classmates. You have all this paperwork you have to complete and a big test to take, and your advisors, deans, and professors from the island are so far away.

To prepare for this transition, I highly recommend going to the townhall meetings and talks hosted by the Office of clinical affairs when they come down to the island every semester. Not only is there useful information, but you can also meet the clinical advisors with whom you will be working so that you have an idea of who they are in person (and vice versa) during the transition. It’s important to meet them in person because you may not have another chance to do so once you leave the island (after which you will only be able to communicate with them via email or phone). I also highly recommend going to the clinical fair during May to meet with the clinical directors you may be working with.

As for me, I have finally confirmed my third year rotation schedule. For my first rotation (in less than 2 weeks), I am heading across the seas again, this time to the United Kingdom, where I will be doing a 6-week clerkship in Psychiatry, followed by the rest of the year of rotations in Miami. I am very thankful for this opportunity to finally begin learning the tricks of the trade in a real clinical setting, as well as the invaluable opportunity to experience the medical systems of two countries, and I am looking forward to this new phase in my journey.

Here I have laid out a checklist of the things that need to be completed from the end of Basic Sciences until the start of clinicals.

  1. Attend the Fifth Semester Clinical Orientation hosted by the Office of Clinical Student Affairs (OCSA) during fifth semester. During this orientation, you will fill out and sign an Official Leave Request Form to cover for the 4 months (1 semester worth of time) that you will be on official leave to study and take the USMLE Step 1 exam.
  2. Once you have passed your first NBME Comprehensive exam on the island, you will be given permission to start registering for ECFMG by the school. The first thing you’ll have to do is to go to the ECFMG website and then register for a USMLE/ECFMG ID# as well as complete the online part of the ECFMG application. To start, go to “Online Services” on the Homepage menu, and then “IWA.” Establish an account with ECFMG. They will email your ECMFG Number. You can use this number to log in and out of the ECFMG site.
  3.  After you fill out the online application, print out Form 186, fill in your information, and attach a passport-sized photo of yourself on the form. You can do this on the island with the Dean of Academic Affairs (Dr. Yoshida), and the school can print out a passport-sized photo of you from y0ur student ID photo for free. Turn in your Form 186 to the Dean of Academic Affairs or the Registrar.
  4. Next, login to your ECFMG account to register for the USMLE Step 1 on the site, and pay the fee. Wait a few days to receive your scheduling permit for the exam.
  5. Once you get your scheduling permit for the USMLE Step 1, go to the Prometric website and then schedule your Step 1 exam. The exam can be taken anytime throughout the year and anywhere in the United States, as long as there is availability at the specific prometric site where you want to take the exam.
  6. After you set up a time and place for your Step 1 exam, contact OCSA of your registration date.
  7. Study really hard.
  8. Take Step 1. Remember to get plenty of sleep the day before the exam. The exam is 8 hours total (7 one-hour sections and a 1-hour break). Remember to bring your scheduling permit and drivers license (or some sort of government-issued ID).
  9. Go home and celebrate that you are done with the exam. Get some rest.
  10. In the meantime while you wait for your scores, get your titers, ppd, physical, and flu shot done. Print out the Health Statement form from the AUC Clinical page and have it filled out by your doctor. The ppd is a 2-step ppd, each done one week apart from each other. Once you complete your health form, send the filled-out paperwork as well as a copy of your lab results to your advisor. You can also scan the paperwork and lab results and send it via email. Your health form and immunizations must be updated every 12 months. It costs anywhere from $200-700 (depending on which clinic you go to) to get these forms/immunizations updated.
  11. If you took your exam on a Wednesday, Thursday, or a Friday, you will receive your Step 1 score on the third Wednesday after your exam. If you took your exam on a Saturday, Monday, or Tuesday, expect to get your score back on the fourth Wednesday after your exam. You can go on the ECFMG website (Online Services –> Oasis) to check your score status. You will also receive an email telling you your scores are ready. Your scores will be in a pdf file posted on Oasis.
  12. Immediately download and forward the pdf file of your score (on Oasis on the ECFMG website) to AUC’s Office of Clinical Student Affairs at clinicals@aucmed.edu. In the same email, list your top three preferences for regions where you want to do your rotations. Also list your phone number and when you would like to start your rotations. Be sure to use your AUC email.
  13. One week after you receive your Step scores, you will receive a phone call from a clinical advisor to let you know what clinical sites are available and to schedule your core rotations. You can take some time to think about how you want to schedule, according to the choices available. You can also decide to schedule your first few rotations now, and then decide on the later rotations at a later time. Once you decide on where and when you want to do your rotations, officially confirm your schedule with your advisor via email so he/she can start processing your financial aid.
  14. Do financial aid — 4 things to fill out: FAFSA, MPN’s for Stafford and PLUS loans, and Request for Direct Plus Loans (credit check). Afterwards, you will receive your financial aid award letter, which you sign and return to the AUC Financial Aid Office. You’ll only need to fill out FAFSA once a year, but you must fill out the two MPN’s and the Request for Direct Plus Loans every semester during clinicals (vs. Basic sciences, where you just do it once every two semesters).
  15. Have your advisor initiate a background check for you. He/She will send you a custom link, in which you go to a website and fill out the information.
  16. Fill out the Registration Form, which you can download from the AUC Clinical Page, and send it to your advisor. You can also scan it and email it to your advisor. Registration Forms must be filled out each semester.
  17. Make copies of your drivers license, passport, and CPR card, and send them to your advisor. You can also scan it and email it to your advisor.
  18. Finally, the site director or coordinator will contact you and give you further details on the rotation you’re about to start.
  19. In the meantime, look for accommodations, flights, or travel plans, and connect with classmates who will be in the same clinical site (Consider joining one of the several clinical Facebook groups here). You may also want to brush up on your medical knowledge while you wait anxiously for your clinical rotations to begin. If you are rotating in Miami, brush up on your Spanish skills. If you are rotating in New York, complete the required Infectious Control Training for the state of New York on the ProCEO website, using the discount code that AUC has provided you. It takes about two hours to complete and costs $25. Submit it to the school and the hospital. If you are going to the UK, get your visa applications done. Some hospitals may prefer you not wear your AUC white coat. In this case, shop for a few new white coats. In the UK, they may prefer you not wear a white coat at all, for sanitation reasons.
  20. Start rotation. Learn. Have fun.

30 comments to Clinical Registration Checklist

  • E

    Thanks for all the info Benji! It’s such a long process, just like every thing else in med school. I’m just curious as to whether you still receive financial aid if you do rotations in the UK? Also do we have to get the titers done for all the things listed in the AUC health form if we have our immunization records?

  • Benji

    No problem E! We still receive financial aid when we do rotations in the UK, since it’s still AUC. As for titers, we’re required to have them updated every year we are in clinicals. So even though you probably already got your titers done before you came to med school, you have to do them again when you go into 3rd year clinicals, and then again for your 4th year.

  • That extensive list is really helpful for other foreign medical students.

    I think it will be really cool to rotate in London. Hey, it is a reason to travel to somewhere new. I guess you have to try the local cuisine: fish and chips. I can’t think of any other food that England is known for. Maybe, hopefully, you’ll have time for sight seeing.

    With AUC, do you get an extra semester to study for boards? And if so, is it common for other Caribbean schools too?

    • Benji

      Hi Alex,

      At AUC and other schools on the trimester system, we don’t get a break in between first and second year like they do in most semester-system medical schools (most US med schools). Instead, we get the break between second and third year when we study for the board exams whereas in other schools students may not often get the break during this time.

      Fish and Chips are definitely on my list of things to try, as well as Haggis, Yorkshire Pudding, and other local things I have yet to learn about! I’m looking forward to the rotation!

      Benji

  • Dave

    Hi Benji-
    thanks for all the information you’ve posted; it’s been very helpful.
    I’m just starting 4th semester at AUC and would like to know your opinion about scheduling Step 1 exam. As you probably know, the US med schools have only 4 semester without one devoted to mostly review. Additionally, it’s not uncommon for students of US schools to take the step 4-6wks after the end of there 2nd year. On the other hand, it sounds very common for AUC students to take an additional 12 wks to prepare after the end of 5th semester in which we do so much reviewing (Kaplan, comp, etc). Do you feel that that 3months is really necessary?? I’m thinking of about 4-6wk time frame before taking the step. I’ve heard that residency programs will consider the amount of prep time for people with high scores. ie. it can count against you if you do well but take a long time to prepare.
    thanks for any advice you might have. Best of luck with clinicals!
    -dave

  • Benji

    Hi Dave,

    That’s a good question. I really haven’t heard anything about residencies looking to how long you take the prepare for the exam. Most really just look at the score, and whether or not you passed on the first attempt. They also look to see if you have any “gaps in medical education.” In the case of AUC giving us a semester’s worth of time to prepare for the step, it’s part of the school’s curriculum and therefore it isn’t considered a “gap in medical education” like it would be for a medical leave. If you decided to postpone the exam beyond these four months, then it would be considered unusual, and then scrutinized by residency programs.

    For me personally, although I took 3 months to prepare and take the Step exam, in hindsight, I feel that I should have taken it earlier. There’s only so much you can review from review books, which is what I used most of the three months. The rest of the knowledge that comes in handy for the exam comes from what you remember from classes, and the longer you wait to take the exam, the easier it is to forget that stuff. It also really depends on how prepared you feel, and you can get a feeling as to how much more you need to prepare from your performances on the comp exams.

    Good luck Dave!
    Benji

    Benji

  • Anon

    Hi Benji,

    I hope you have gotten some significant relief from the stress you’ve been under and enjoyed the holidays. I can *sort of* feel your pain. You mentioned wishing you had taken the exam earlier because you began to forget the material, but I don’t quite understand that. Could you expand on it? Afterall, you were still studying.. Were there any particular classes you felt that you began to forget material? I would think that most material you remember from classes would be from 3-5 semesters at best, and even then material will be fuzzy.

    Thanks so much for the time you put into this blog. Lots of people appreciate it.

  • Benji

    Hi Anon,

    Thanks, I definitely have gotten some rest ever since the exam, and am looking forward to starting clinicals next week!

    To answer your question, students often focus on the more high-yield material in preparation for the step, which is important to do, as it’s just impossible to completely review over everything you learned from day 1 of med school. However, when you drag this process to three months, you tend to start forgetting the less high-yield material that you may often overlook in your review studying. Not to mention, by the end of 3 months, it’s easy to start feeling burned out, which affects your focus and mental vigor.

    Thanks for the message and best of luck with you!
    Benji

  • UK med student

    Just wondering why you chose to do Psychiatry in the UK? I would think it is probably the hardest one to relate to US practice as so much of it is based on the local law. When I did my psychiatry rotation, all the doctors always wanted to tell us how everything is different in the US (despite never having worked there…)

    • Benji

      Hi John,
      From what I hear from other students who have gone to the UK for rotation, for the most part, most everything is the same… diseases are the same, drug names are mostly the same, etc. However, the difference is in the approach to health care, and experiencing that different approach and system first hand is what makes going to the UK for a rotation an invaluable opportunity. I will be coming back to Miami to complete a Psych Sub-I afterwards, so that I can experience the American system as well.
      Benji

  • Katja

    Thanks for the blog, I’m looking into applying to AUC so I have been doing some research on it, and I was wondering when you have to do all the clinicals in different places, is all that plane travel out of pocket, and how does finding a place to live work?

  • Benji

    Hi Katja,

    If you are doing rotations domestically in the US, plane travel is usually out of pocket. However, often the school may help students out on the plane tickets when traveling abroad to the UK for rotations, especially if you are rotating in surgery.

    As for accommodations, some hospitals offer on-campus accommodations. All the hospitals in the UK have student dormitories, and some in the US offer them as well, such as Spring Grove Hospital in Maryland. Other hospitals like Miami Beach Community Health Center or Brentwood Hospital in Shreveport Louisiana do not have them and you’ll need to find accommodations by yourself. However, often the site will provide students a list of available off-campus housing around the area you can look into for rent.

    Benji

  • Daniel

    Benji,
    Thank you so much for your post, this blog is incredible and very helpful!
    I am applying to AUC for the coming january term and I am applying with my wife who is also going there to study medicine.

    I have a question that I wish you could honestly answer to me.
    I am very worried about the fact that we are both going to school together and I wish to complete my entire 4 yrs with her on the same place, meaning being together the first 2 years at the island, but, what about the clinical rotations?

    Do you think it is possible or it could be a real challenge for both of us to be always together during the two years of rotations?
    I really need to know if there are chances for me to actually finish the 4 yrs of medschool with her without being separated from each other.

    If you could please give me any advise or anything that could clarify my doubts, I will be very glad with you,

    Thank you very much!!!

    • Benji

      Hi Daniel,
      Not to worry, I know couples who have been together on the island and have rotated together during clinical years, and yes, it is definitely doable. Just make sure you pass classes together, so you stay together in the same semester. Also, make sure to take the Step exams together so you get your results at the same time, so that you can register for clinical rotations at the same available spots. As long as you both keep up (and help each other out, of course), I’d say it shouldn’t be too difficult to be together all four years of med school.
      Best of luck Daniel!
      Benji

  • Par

    Hi Benji,

    Thank you so much for all this information. I recently got accepted for the Fall 2012 class, and I am very interested in AUC. I wanted to know if students ever had problems with registering for their clinical rotations due to lack of spots available in hospitals (like in New York area)? Also, are there unnecessary gaps during rotaions? I wanted to know if I will ever have problems obtaining my rotaions in the Northeast of US because AUC is not as well-known as Ross University or St. George’s University. Your honest response will definitely help me in making my decision. Thank you so much!!!!

    • Benji

      Hi Par,
      Congratulations on your recent acceptance to AUC! I have never heard of anyone from AUC who had to delay their graduation or have “unncessary gaps” simply because there were no more rotation spots anywhere. There’s always somewhere you can rotate at at AUC, as long as you are flexible as to where you want to go.

      An important thing to know is that scheduling rotations is based on first-come-first-serve basis. Not all spots may be available at any given time, but there certainly will be spots available somewhere. When you schedule, you’ll be told which sites are available, and from there you choose where you want to go. So, if you are flexible as to where you want to do your rotations, you can certainly get a spot somewhere at any of AUC’s affiliated hospitals in the US or UK and start your rotations within a few weeks of scheduling your rotations with your clinical advisor. I started my first rotation in Blackburn about a month after my talk with my advisor.

      As for rotations in the New York area, AUC has plenty of affiliated hospitals in that region, so I know many students who decided to do all their rotations there and had no trouble scheduling spots there.

      Best of luck in med school Par!
      Benji

  • Phoenix

    Hi Benji,
    I am in the process for applying to AUC and was curious in regards to their clinical rotations during the last 2 years of med school. I know the first 2 years during Basic Sciences will be in St Maarten, however during several weeks during clinical in the US, were you able to used your car? What was your mode of transportation during the various rotations? I know it also depends on the city & site of clinical also.
    I currently have a car, and if i do get into AUC or Ross, I would leave it back in the states with my family. Will I be able to use it again during my last 2 years of clinical?

    Thank you very much, Benji!

    • Benji

      Hi Phoenix,
      If you were to do your rotations in New York City, or the UK, I wouldn’t suggest getting a car, since it’s convenient to get around, especially if you live near the hospitals where you do your rotations. However, everywhere else, I’d recommend getting a car, especially if you can’t find a place to stay within walking distance of the hospital. Most of the hospitals in the UK have special housing for their students that are located nearby. For everywhere else, you’d have to find an apartment on your own.
      Best of luck,
      Benji

  • Amit

    Hi Benji,

    Thank you for this very helpful blog, it has helped me in so many ways. I have a question about the CPR certification. I did not do it on the island, and now I’m doing in in New York. The red cross offers a 3 hour course for lay people, and an 8 hour (twice the cost) course for health professionals. Will AUC accept the basic CPR course for lay people? Do you know what type of course I need? Thanks in advance for any help you can provide.

    Best,

    Amit

    • Benji

      Hi there Amit,
      Thanks for visiting my blog. I was wondering, how did you not do the CPR training? I thought that it’s supposed to be required for ICM, and one of the documents required for you to be eligible to schedule your clinical rotations. The course we got on the island was American Heart Association BLS for Healthcare Providers (CPR+AED). It’s valid for 2 years.
      Best of luck,
      Benji

      • Amit

        We did not have to do it on the island, it was optional for us. So now I must do it in the states. It is required for clinicals, but I had a choice of when I want to do it. Thanks for your reply, it helped.

        -Amit

  • Kyle

    Hi Benji,

    I’ve read online that January starts have an odd schedule that can sometimes result in a long out of school period and student loans coming out of the grace period. Can you shed any light on that? Would it be possible for a January 2014 start to enter residency in 2017?

    Thanks!

  • Heath

    Hi Benji,

    I hope you are getting to enjoy a break this holiday season. Could you enlighten me on how much time, on average, you had between clinical rotations/sites? I’m attempting to set up a primitive clinical schedule.

    Thanks,

    Heath

  • Sam

    Hi Benji,
    Will I be able to start my rotations relatively quickly after I complete step 1? I will complete step 1 in late August or early September 2015. I’ve heard that we can only start rotations in April or August every year. It would stink to have to sit on my bum for 7 months (September-April) waiting for rotations to begin. Apologies if you answered this question in earlier posts!

    Thanks,
    Sam

    • Benji

      Hi Sam,

      Are you at AUC? If so, the rotation start dates vary, depending on which hospital you are going to. The hospitals in Miami (and probably others) start every 6 weeks. The hospitals in the UK have start dates every week or so. Other hospitals like Nassau and Providence have much less start dates per year.

      After taking the step, you get your scores back in 3 weeks. After that you wait about a week before you set up your rotations with your clinical advisor. When I was setting up my rotations, I was offered a rotation that started within 2 weeks, but I chose a rotation that started in one month because it worked better with my overall schedule.

      Best of luck!

      Benji

  • Dong

    Benji

    I’m an international student from China who was admitted in May 2014. But due to some reasons I may defer my enrollment to Sep 2014; but I’m still considering which one is better.

    1. Could you brief the influence to my rotation site choices and residency if I start in Sep? Any disadvantages? I can’t figure out a timeline.

    2. During the Step 1, how will the international student get back to US? Will AUC give me a document or proof to apply for a visa for entrance?

    3. How many times does the Step 1 hold per year? I read on the website saying “You may take the test on any day that it is offered during your assigned eligibility period, provided that there is space at the Prometric Test Center you choose. ” Is it meaning the exam is not held like MCAT, which is only in particular days?

    4. Where to check the rotation starting dates? I wish to stay at one place to do all the core rotations.

    Thanks
    Dong

    • Benji

      Hi Dongbo,

      Congratulations on your acceptance to AUC!

      1. Given a choice between starting in May or September, I would say May semester is better. It gives you more time to schedule weeks off to study for the step exams, as well as some vacation breaks in between rotations. You could also have more time to schedule a month off to focus on residency interviews when that time comes. Also if you start May semester, if you happen to have to repeat a semester for whatever reason (hopefully you won’t), then you can still match the same year as the rest of your class. and not have to wait one whole semester to do that. For September class, you don’t have as much flexibility.

      2. I’m not the best person to ask about visas and process for international students, as I am a US citizen. The best place to get that information is directly from the school, like your orientation advisor, as they would get that information for you. You could also consider joining AUC International Student facebook group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/AUC.International.Students/

      3. Step 1 is held all year round. There are many Prometric Test Centers in the US. You can take the Step at any one of the Prometric Test Centers, if there is availability, which you can check online when you register for the Step.

      4. The rotation start dates and availability changes all the time, depending on how many students are at the hospitals. It is impossible to know which hospitals are available to do your rotations until you actually schedule your rotations with your orientation advisor after fifth semester. There are several hospitals in which you can do all 5 of your core rotations: Nassau, Providence, Bronx-Lebanon, Kern, Epsom, Blackburn, Ealing. I have them listed here: http://www.caribbeanmedstudent.com/2009/11/auc-clinical-sites-in-the-world/

      I’m sure this is an exciting time for you, and it’s great to see there is representation from more parts of the world at AUC! Best of luck!

      Benji

  • Hi Benji

    I am wanting to attend AUC. However, the uncertainty of the match simply due to being a Caribbean student scares me. What is your take on that? What is the percentage of AUC students from, say a September class, that do not end up matching? Why do you think that some do not? I have not really gotten a solid answer on that issue so anything is appreciated.

    • Benji

      Hi,
      There is always a chance of not matching, even in US medical schools. At AUC, when I was there, about 80% of the students in my class made in through med school (20% either failed out or decided to drop out or transfer, etc). Of these 80% that make it through med school, about 80% match into a residency program the first time around. There can be many reasons why people do not match. Maybe they failed an exam or had a low score, or had some sort of red flag on their application. Maybe they applied to to little programs. Maybe they applied to too competitive of programs in relationship to their scores. Maybe they have bad letters of recommendation. Or maybe they have bad interviews. Maybe they applied too late. The reasons are many. Of those 20% who do not match, half of them do get a match the second time they apply for residency. And then there are people who apply over and over for residencies every year and do not match. A red flag, unfortunately, will stick with you every year. You will have to be very disciplined and make sure you get every step of the way right. You will also make sure you have an attractive personality that will let residency programs know that not only do you know your stuff (which shows in your scores), but also you are a person that can get along well with other coworkers and attendings, and that you have a good work ethic, and are “hirable.”

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