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Clinical Electives: FAQs

i. Eligibility to Apply
ii. My Application
iii. If I Am Accepted

Eligibility to Apply:

Q: I'm not sure which test requirement I am supposed to submit. How can I tell?

A: The requirements are as follows:

Requirements for TOEFL or USMLE Step 2 CS CEP requires.......
U.S. citizen attending medical school outside the U.S. USMLE Step 2 CS
Canadian attending medical school outside the U.S. Either USMLE Step 2 CS or TOEFL (iBT)
UK/Australian citizen attending medical school in the UK/Australia Eng. Cert. from Dean
Foreign citizen attending an international medical school TOEFL (iBT)

Q: I am a foreign citizen international medical student and would like to know what TOEFL (iBT) score is acceptable?

A: The minimum acceptable iBT scores are: 28 on the listening subsection; 28 on the speaking subsection; 108 total score.

Q: I am an International student, but the medium of teaching at my medical school is English. Is it possible to waive my TOEFL?

A: No. The TOEFL cannot be waived.

Q: I am a U.S. citizen attending medical school outside of the U.S. and I understand that I need to have taken and passed the USMLE Step 2 CS (Clinical Skills) exam. Is that correct?

A: Yes. Evidence of clinical skills proficiency in the form of a passing grade on the USMLE Step 2 Clinical Skills exam is required for all students who are US citizens attending schools that are not LCME-accredited medical schools in the United States/Canada or that are not accredited osteopathic schools in the United States.

Q: For pending clerkship rotations, is verification of a passing grade in writing from the core clerkship professor sufficient?

A: Yes. Verification of a passing grade in writing from the core clerkship professor is sufficient.

Q: I am attending medical school in a foreign country and want to apply for the NIH Clinical Electives Program to experience training in a U.S. hospital. Can I apply for the CEP?

A: While a medical student interested in obtaining short-term, introductory experience with the U.S. healthcare system may submit an application, we do not encourage this approach. The NIH Mark O. Hatfield Clinical Research Center is a tertiary-care hospital devoted to clinical research and it does not admit general medical, pediatric or surgery patients. It also does not have an emergency department or a labor and delivery ward. The CEP is more appropriate for students who are interested in obtaining experience with medical care of patients enrolled in clinical research protocols and who have a career interest in highly subspecialized patient care.

Q: If I am a non-U.S. citizen attending a medical school outside of the United States or Puerto Rico, do I need a visa in order to participate in the CEP?

A: Yes, non-citizens of the U.S. must obtain the required B-1 or WB visa in order to legally enter the country to participate in the CEP. Students must enter in the 'business' category.

Q: How long does it take the NIH Division of International Services to Issue a B-1/WB visa letter?

A: It takes up to 30 days.

Q: Do I need a letter from the NIH Division of International Services if I already have a visa/green card?

A: Yes. All international students are required to have a letter from the NIH Division of International Services.

Q: I am a medical school graduate and would like to participate in the CEP. Am I eligible?

A: No. Medical school graduates are not eligible to participate in the CEP.

Q: Does the CEP offer observerships?

A: No. The CEP does not offer observerships.

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My Application:

Q: Are all the Programs accepting International students?

A: No. The following rotations are limited to students enrolled in medical schools accredited by the Liaison Committee on Medical Education (LCME), or the Commission on Osteopathic College Accreditation (COCA), or dental schools accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CODA): Addiction Medicine, Critical Care Medicine, Internal Medicine Consult Service, Medical Oncology, Pain and Palliative Care, Radiation Oncology, Surgical Oncology and Urologic Oncology.

Q: Is there an application fee?

A: No. There is no application fee.

Q: Is the four week elective timeframe fixed or is it possible to extend or shorten my rotation?

A: The four week single elective timeframe is fixed. However, if accepted, a student may apply for a total of three electives.

Q: How long prior to the start of the elective should I apply?

A: While there is no deadline, and applicants are accepted on a continuous basis, we advise students to apply as soon as possible. We advise international students to apply a minimum of 6 months prior to the desired elective start date and national students to apply a minimum of 3 months prior to the desired elective start date.

Q: My application was rejected by the three elective rotation choices that I listed. Can I change my list of elective choices to be considered for additional rotations?

A: No. Students are permitted to list a maximum of 3 elective rotation choices. If a student is not selected for any rotation, he/she cannot request additional elective choices.

Q: How long does it take to review my application?

A: Students who are accepted to their first choice elective should hear within 3-5 weeks, and one to three weeks thereafter for each additional elective: the application is reviewed for one elective at a time. Students who are rejected should hear within 1-2 weeks.

Q: How will I be notified if I am selected?

A: The CEP Program Administrator will notify successful candidates by e-mail.

Q: What are the immunization requirements?

A: Students who are accepted must provide documentation of immunization for: Tetanus and Diphtheria booster; TB skin test or chest x-ray; Rubeola vaccine immunization or titer; Varicella vaccine immunization or titer; Influenza A and B; Hepatitis B vaccine (strongly recommended).

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If I Am Accepted:

Q: Will I receive an evaluation at the end of my rotation that can be used for school credit?

A: Yes, at the end of every rotation, you are required to receive an evaluation from your preceptor that can be used for school credit.

Q: Is there a rotation fee?

A: No. There is no rotation fee.

Q: My school does not provide professional liability and personal insurance. Can I purchase this on my own?

A: Yes. If the training agreement negotiated between the NIH and the student’s medical/dental school does not specify that the school will provide both professional liability insurance and a personal health insurance policy to cover the student's stay at the NIH, the student must purchase this insurance. Insurance should be purchased after a student is accepted.

Q: I would like to start my rotation (if accepted) on a date other than the first Monday of the month. Is this possible?

A: No. We ask that accepted students start on the first Monday of a month in order to schedule them for required hospital training that is mandatory for their rotation at the NIH Clinical Center. Please note: if the first Monday of a month falls on a federal government holiday, students will start on the following day. Students are expected to complete their rotations on the end date specified at the time of acceptance. Any request for an early departure date must be approved in advance of the rotation start date.

Q: If I were to be accepted for an elective, can I change the dates of my rotation?

A: Yes. Provided that the rotation director can accommodate a student for alternate dates, it is possible to change the rotation dates.

Q: If I applied for and was accepted for only one elective, can I apply for other elective rotations?

A: Yes. Students may apply for up to three (four week) electives for any combination of months (maximum of twelve weeks) during any one academic year.

Q: Should I bring the white coat that was issued to me at my medical/dental school?

A: Yes, students should bring their own white coat as students are not issued white coats during their electives.

Q: Do I need a parking permit in order to park on the NIH campus?

A: Yes. If you plan to commute by private vehicle to the NIH, you will be issued a temporary parking permit that will cover the time period that you will be at the NIH. Students are asked not to drive to the NIH on the first day of their elective, but to use MetroRail or MetroBus. Both modes of transportation have stations on the NIH campus.

Q: Are living quarters available on the NIH campus?

A: At present, no living quarters are available on the NIH campus. Information on housing is sent to students upon their selection to the program. Cafeterias in the Clinical Center and other NIH buildings offer meals at moderate prices. Students are responsible for making their own travel and living arrangements and for all costs associated with such arrangements.

For information on rooms for rent or other available housing in the area please call the NIH Recreation and Welfare Association-Housing Office at (301) 496-4600. You may also view the NIH Office of Training and Education's Moving Guide PDF Icon (317 KB).

The Metro (subway) stop (Medical Center) and bus stops located on the NIH campus permit easy access from nearby areas in Maryland, Virginia and Washington, DC. The NIH is located just 20 minutes from downtown Washington, DC.

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This page last updated on 07/02/2019

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