As a medical student on the cusp of completing your training, a monumental question invariably arises: where should you pursue your postgraduate training or residency – in your familiar home country or amidst the uncharted territories of an overseas opportunity? In the following discourse, I will share my insights, informed by six pivotal factors, aimed at aiding you in this decision-making journey. Ultimately, I’ll also provide valuable guidance tailored to you International Medical Graduates (IMGs) to assist you in arriving at an informed and personally fitting choice.
1. Long-Term Career Goal
Absolutely, the most important thing to think about is what you want to do in the long run as a doctor. Let’s make this easier to understand. Just imagine your journey as a doctor: where do you want to work the most? If you want to focus on practicing medicine in your own country, then it makes sense to do your training there. On the other hand, if you’re thinking about working as a doctor in Canada, then you have options – you could do your training in Canada or even in the USA. But remember, this is a simple way to look at it. There are many other things to think about too. Choosing to train where you plan to work has some big benefits. You’ll get used to how things work there, and you’ll meet lots of important people during your training who can help you throughout your medical journey. I’m saying all of this based on my own experience over many years.
2. Family Connection
The next big thing to consider, which is really important for many IMGs, is your family. Where does your family live? Are they in your home country, and you want to be near them, or do they live in a different country?
Now, if you don’t get along with your family or don’t like them, that’s a different situation. But if you care about staying close to your family, then you should focus on those countries. Being near your family is so important, and many IMGs realize this. It’s not just IMGs; even other people who have moved from one country to another feel the same way. I talk to many people from different jobs who are immigrants, and they feel this too. After all, family is family, and parents are parents.
3. Financial Situation
The third factor that often comes into play is money matters. For some IMGs who don’t have a lot of money, they might be thinking about moving to Canada or the USA because they believe they can earn a higher income there and have a better quality of life.
They could face challenges paying for their exams, affording the travel to the U.S. or Canada, and dealing with other money-related issues.
In such cases, it could be a good idea for these IMGs to think about doing their residency in their own country first. Then, once they’ve got their footing, they could consider moving to the USA or Canada for further specialized training, like a fellowship.
4. Training Opportunities
Another important aspect to think about is the training options offered in your home country. Sometimes, there are places where the training opportunities are quite limited. In situations like these, IMGs might find it helpful to move to the USA or Canada for their residency where there are more structured programs available. They could even think about returning to their home country after their training to make a positive impact. This might involve starting new programs, engaging in research, or introducing innovative ideas to benefit their own community. There’s a whole range of possibilities for IMGs to explore.
5. Country in a Mess!
The fifth consideration is if you’re living in a country facing tough times, like an economic crisis or a war that makes it really challenging for you to stay there. This situation has two perspectives. I don’t mean to suggest that you should immediately leave your home country when there’s a problem – often, your home country might need you more than ever. In such cases, IMGs can explore the option of completing their training abroad and then returning to their home country to make a positive impact. It’s all about finding a way to contribute meaningfully.
6. Dual Exposure
Lastly, the sixth point I’d like to highlight is what I refer to as “dual exposure,” and this is something I hold in high regard. If you have the opportunity to pursue your postgraduate training or residency in a top-notch institution within your home country, I strongly suggest you consider that option. Even if it means that you might have to redo your residency when you later move to the USA or Canada, it’s a decision worth considering. While it might seem like you’re repeating three to five years of training, the substantial exposure you can gain from exceptional institutions in your home country can genuinely bolster your career journey.
My Experience From India..
No matter where your ultimate career aspiration lies, it’s vital to stay focused on that goal. Similarly, if your family holds a special place in your heart, and you’re keen on being near them, that’s an important consideration. And if the opportunity presents itself to train in a top-tier institution within your home country, it’s an option that shouldn’t be overlooked.
I trust that you’re now equipped with a clear understanding of the pivotal factors that should guide your decision-making process when it comes to choosing between postgraduate training in your home country or another nation. Remember, there’s no universal formula – each decision is contingent on individual circumstances.
Should you require further assistance, don’t hesitate to visit my website at www.imgsecrets.com. Feel free to schedule an appointment with me, where I can provide personalized guidance every step of the way to ensure your journey is a successful one. Your success matters to me, and I’m here to help you navigate this path.
Dr. Rajeev Iyer MBBS, MD, FASA (USA)
Associate Professor of Anesthesiology & Critical Care
University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, USA
The opinion in this article are author’s own and does not represent the opinions of University of Pennsylvania or any other organizations.