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Embarking on medical clerkships within the United States provides invaluable opportunities for international medical students. Medical students, with these experiences, build extensive professional connections, work with a broad spectrum of diverse patient profiles and health issues and receive unparalleled educational experiences. Such practical training equips medical students to deliver outstanding, community-oriented, and patient-focused care. U.S. clerkships may vary by school and present a distinctive combination of experiences and tools essential for the success of international medical students. 

Understanding Medical Clerkships

What is a clerkship in medicine? Clinical clerkships, often referred to simply as clerkships or rotations, are essential stages of hands-on training that occur during students’ third and fourth years of medical school (MS3 and MS4). Medical school clerkships provide opportunities to practice evidence-based medicine, closely mentored by experienced physicians. Through these experiences, students can sharpen their skills in evaluating, diagnosing, and treating patients and their families. 

During the MS3 year, students complete core rotations in:

  • Internal Medicine
  • Family Medicine
  • Surgery
  • Pediatrics
  • Obstetrics and Gynecology
  • Psychiatry

At the end of each core rotation, students are required take a Subject Clerkship Exam (SCE) or “shelf exam”. Designed and licensed by the National Board of Medical Examiners (NBME®), shelf exams assess a student’s knowledge and their ability to apply it through simulated medical scenarios. 

During students’ pivotal MS4 year, they select elective clerkships that allow them to explore their individual passions, ranging from primary care to specialty care, including dermatology, cardiology, radiology, among others. Core rotations typically span 6 to 12 weeks, while elective rotations typically last between 4 and 8 weeks.

It's important for students to fully engage in their clinical rotations. Rotations offer a chance to broaden professional connections, while providing a way to further develop their skills in delivering superior patient care.

Diversity in U.S. Clerkships

Medical school clinical clerkships offer a rich variety of experience. Core clerkships focus on foundational areas such as internal medicine, surgery, pediatrics, obstetrics and gynecology, and psychiatry. In contrast, elective clerkships allow students to venture beyond these core areas, delving into more specialized domains.

Sub-internships are advanced rotations that offer a deeper dive into the intricacies of patient care and specialty responsibilities. These types of rotations foster valuable professional relationships and sharpens students’ clinical aptitude. Excelling in clerkships is crucial for students aiming for a coveted residency slot in the United States.

Clerkship Requirements for Ross University School of Medicine Students

Many students, from the U.S., Canada, and beyond, opt for Ross University School of Medicine (Ross Med) because of its distinctive blend of high-quality education, globally recognized curriculum, and dedicated faculty who are deeply committed to student success. The university's track record of producing competent physicians, coupled with state-of-the-art facilities and a diverse, enriching environment, draws faculty and students from across the world. 

A standout feature of Ross Med is the clerkship experiences it offers in the United States. Ross Med students gain hands-on experience in a variety of clinical settings, ensuring their readiness for future residency and medical practice. Medical students interested in pursuing U.S. clerkships must:

  • Successfully complete the Medical Sciences curriculum (MS1 & MS2). 
  • Pass the United States Medical Licensing Examination® (USMLE®) Step 1 and submit the USMLE® Score Report.
  • Receive approved health clearance and complete a background check.

Beyond Clerkships and Preparing for U.S. Residency

As medical students successfully complete their clerkships, they are also preparing for the next pivotal step: The National Resident Matching Program®, commonly referred to as The Match®. This process, an integral juncture in a medical student's journey, determines their placement into residency programs across the United States. 

The MATCH® Process

The MATCH process officially begins during a student’s fourth year electives, with Ross Med students receiving support and guidance to:

  • Submit applications to residency programs.
  • Interview with program teams.
  • Create a Rank Order List (ROL) of preferred programs.

Upon graduation, you will be ready to begin your residency and embark on the next phase of your medical career! Ready to learn more about clerkships at Ross University School of Medicine? Submit this form to request more information.

In 2020, 91% of RUSM students passed the initial step of the United States Medical Licensing Examination® (USMLE®) on the first attempt. And in 2022-2023, results show yet another strong year for RUSM with a 98% first-time residency attainment rate* thus far. Located on the island of Barbados and with a network of more than 15,000 alumni, RUSM is one of the largest providers of doctors for the U.S. healthcare system. RUSM graduates practice in all 50 states and in Puerto Rico.

*First time residency attainment rate is the percent of students attaining a 2023-24 residency position out of all graduates or expected graduates in 2022-23 who were active applicants in the 2023 NRMP match or who attained a residency position outside the NRMP match.