President Kornelia Król, MD was an honorary guest at Poznań University of Medical Sciences (PUMS) this May. During her stay, Dr. Król spoke to PUMS students on the residency application process in the United States, visited many of Pozań’s new academic structures, and was asked to be the official commencement speaker for the graduating class of 2015.
On May 30th, Dr. Król presented her speech titled “Considering your options before the MATCH” at an event organized by the North American Student Government (NASG). The event was held at the PUMS library and was attended by some of this year’s PAMS Scholarship recipients: Marc Dziuba from Glenview, IL and Jan Morawski from Milwaukee, WI.
Two days later, during the PUMS 2015 Graduation Ceremony, Dr. Król eloquently emphasized the immense responsibility associated with the title Medical Doctor and inspired the graduating class to be positive leaders amongst future colleagues. This year, 47 students graduated from the 4-year MD program, 59 students from the 6-year MD program, 36 students from the DDS program, 6 students from the Pharmacy program, and 10 students from the Physical Therapy program. The graduating class represented 17 different countries and spoke 16 different languages. Fourty-six were citizens of the United States, and 16 from Canada. The ceremony was also attended by Vice-President Prof. Grzegorz Oszkinis, M.D., Ph.D., Dean of Medical Faculty I Prof. Ryszard Marciniak, M.D., Ph.D., Dean of Faculty of Pharmacy Prof. Lucjusz Zaprutko, M.Sc., Ph.D., Dean of Faculty of Health Sciences Prof. Włodzimierz Samborski, M.D., Ph.D., as well as Vice-Deans of respective faculties and Associate Deans of the Center of Medical Education in English.
After the ceremony, Dr. Król met with the heads of the university to discuss the fate of PUMS graduates returning to the United States. Professor Oszkinis proudly shared PUMS’ new approach to helping students tackle the USMLE exams. Currently, PUMS provides a full Kaplan prep course as well as NBME exams (USMLE-like exams) for all of the core subjects. These additions to the standard curriculum have significantly improved pass rates.
Dr. Król concluded her stay by visiting some of PUMS’ main structures. She saw the Didactic Center, the ‘Karolek’ student dorms, The Medical Biology Center, and The Obstetrics and Gynecology Clinic at the University Hospital of Medical Sciences. She also visited the new Alzheimer’s Rehabilitation Center founded by our very own, honorary PAMS member, Professor Jadwiga Roguska. This impressive project was funded entirely by the Roguska-Kyts Foundation.
Marta Worwag, MD
On August 23rd, Society of Polish American Pre-Health Professionals, a society of young Polish American professionals, considering pursuing post graduate studying and their careers in health care associated fields, organized all day conference at the Polish Museum of America. Polish American Medical society was one of the main sponsors of this successful event and many of our members attended this conference providing their guidance and input, either through formal lectures or in informal mentoring sessions. Among many others, the following members attended: Drs: K.Krol, M.Siemionow, M.Rudnicki, J.Mazurek, A.Szpindor, A.Cios, J. Dlugopolski-Gach.
The text below, courtesy of Andrzej Mikolajczyk
“LIVES IN MEDICINE” CONFERENCE
RESPONDING TO A GREAT NEED IN AMERICAN SOCIETY
The “Lives in Medicine Conference” took place on Saturday, August 23, 2014 at the Polish Museum of America. It was a full day conference with a number of interesting presentations and workshops. Approximately 60 students and aspiring healthcare professionals attended the conference.
The day included various seminars about the application process, a small group mentoring lunch with current students and health professionals, and a resource fair featuring a dozen medical organizations and institutions from around the Midwest.
The purpose of the Conference was to create an opportunities for aspiring students who are ready “to step into the life of a healthcare professional and strengthen their current position in the increasingly competitive applicant pool”.
Chet Szerlag, Vice Chair for Finance and Director of Administrative Operations at the University of Illinois Hospital and Health Sciences System gave a very insightful presentation “Healthcare: an Industry and It’s Professions in Transition”. Szerlag presented many vital facts about the current changes in our healthcare system. He discussed future trends and transitions in the health care system. The Baby Boomer generation (1946-1963), currently the largest generation in the US, is reaching retirement age by the thousands every single day. This will create an incredible need for additional health care services.
“What exactly does the life of a PA or DO/MD look like? What can I really expect from a career in healthcare? What healthcare profession fits me best?” These were some of the questions that students heard the answers to. The advice that they received will help them clarify their individual paths to a life in medicine.
Dr. Kornelia Krol, President of the Polish American Medical Society in Chicago and a practicing obstetrician and gynecologist, gave a presentation titled “Considering Your Options Before Match”. Her talk included an overview of the advantages and disadvantages of studying medicine abroad.
Dr. Josephine Dlugopolski-Gach shared some personal experiences from her path to becoming a physician, including her service as a community volunteer and activist. She is a specialist in internal medicine and pediatrics at Loyola University Medical Center currently.
Dr. Anna Szpindor, former President of the Polish American Medical Society and currently a practicing allergist, shared some insights about mentoring. She was excited to see her daughter-Marysia Szpindor-Watson, a medical student, leading the Conference as a co-chair of the organizing committee.
The Society of Polish American Pre-Health Professionals (SPAPP), is dedicated to helping students learn about careers in healthcare and how to reach them. Their goal is “to entice, foster and support passion for medicine in young Polish Americans through mentorship, scholarship and opportunity”. By connecting current medical professionals with aspiring professionals, they hope to provide people interested in health careers with a better understanding of the profession that best fits with their genuine passions, interests and lives. Organizing the “Lives in Medicine” conference is one way they are working to achieve their goal.
Another purpose of the Conference was provide participants with an understanding of different paths to becoming a healthcare professional and to give them the opportunity to be mentored by current medical students, residents and professionals.
The Keynote Address during the Conference was presented by Dr. Maria Siemionow, MD/PhD, who is a renowned Polish-American surgeon. She shared some of the challenges that she faced and her experiences leading up to the first face transplant in the United States. She coordinated a team of two dozen medical experts during 22 hours of complex face transplant surgery. Her patient is currently alive and her life has been transformed by the surgery. She now feels more accepted by society and enjoys her life. Dr. Siemionow’s primary objective during the full face surgery was to help the patient regain the basic functions of her face.
There have only been several dozen face transplant surgeries in the world during the last two decades. The risks for such surgeries are very high. They require a team of experts and afterwards they require cooperative patients due to the lifetime requirement for immunosuppressive medication.
The conference was organized by Joanna P. Tomaszewski, research associate at Lurie Children’s Hospital, Marysia Szpindor-Watson, medical student, Lukasz Sewera, MD-PhD student, Patricia Jamrozowich, health systems management professional, Angelica Rusilowski, PA student, Martin Wrobel, medical student, Agata Turowski, health systems administration student and Agatha Kielczewski, publicity chair. They truly deserve recognition. The conference was well organized, with presentations by renowned medical professionals from different medical institutions in the Chicago area and in the Midwest.
To learn more, visit their website at www.SPAPPchicago.com or visit them on facebook at facebook.com/SPAPPconference .
@ text by Andrew Mikolajczyk
Medical school debt is a hot topic, so Medscape set out to focus more closely on medical residents’ salary, debt, and their overall experiences in residency. More than 1200 residents across 25 specialties took part in an online survey; the recruitment period ran from June 20, 2014 through July 7, 2014. All participants were enrolled in a US medical resident program. Read more at: http://www.medscape.com/features/slideshow/public/residents-salary-and-debt-report
In recent months, PAMS in Chicago has been faced with an increased number of inquiries and requests for help in finding residency positions and student clerkships. Though it is not a new issue since most of our members are physicians of Polish origin and international medical graduates (IMGs). IMGs have always had more difficult access to residency positions than graduates of American medical schools, particularly in surgical specialties that are very competitive even for the best American graduates.
In recent years, this situation has been further impacted by many new factors. We monitor these changes and aim to acquire and disseminate accurate and current information about these trends. We are committed to helping our students as much as we can. Among us are very dedicated doctors who understand “the system” and work as faculty members at Chicago universities, training students and residents, However, their experience or influence is not enough.
In recent years, residency education in the US has been relatively stagnant, but medical school enrollment has not. Many medical schools have expanded and additional schools have opened. The number of American graduates will grow from approximately 18,000 in 2000 to almost 28,000 by 2020. But this growth will not result in increased numbers of practicing physicians. It simply displaces international graduates. In only four years, there will be more American medical graduates then residency positions, a circumstance that has never existed before. In 1997 the US Congress capped Medicare funding for added residency positions. Moreover, if Congress also decreases funding for existing residency education, the number of residency positions will likely decrease again.
While the interest of young Polish doctors in immigrating to the US is declining because of opportunities within the European Union, we have been observing an increasing number of American students of Polish origin seeking medical education in Poland and wishing to return to the US. Many medical schools in Poland which have opened English divisions with 4 and 6 year programs actively recruit US and Canadian students. For the most part, their intention is to return to the US later and apply for residency programs through the Main Residency Match. While all medical schools in Poland are accredited in the USA and provide excellent education, their graduates (even American citizens) are considered IMGs; and in this competitive environment they have a disadvantage. They not only compete with American graduates but also with other IMG’s who are often extremely well prepared to pass the required USMLE exams. Therefore the high USMLE score (>240) is of extreme importance for those seriously considering applying for the American residency position.
Our newly elected Board of PAMS has worked hard for the last 4 months to address these issues. These are the points we were able to address up to this date:
1. We contacted ECFMG and NRMP and obtained the most recent information pertinent to IMG Match in 2013
● Charting outcomes of the Match “International Medical Graduates” was published for the first time in Jan 2014 and provides information about criteria, requirements and statistics for all specialties: http://www.ecfmg.org/resources/NRMP-ECFMG-Charting-Outcomes-in-the-Match-International-Medical-Graduates-2014.pdf
● “National-Resident-Matching Program 2014 results” http://www.nrmp.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/08/National-Resident-Matching-Program-NRMP-Results-and-Data-SMS-2014-Final.pdf
2. We contacted directly several medical schools in Poland to provide them with realistic information and urged them to pay more attention to Polish-American medical students planning to return to the USA. Specifically we have met with Rectors from Poznan Medical University, Deans from Warsaw Medical University and from Medical University in Wroctaw. Some of the schools have already implemented measures such as introducing Kaplan preparatory courses to help students achieve better scores on USMLE.
3. We met with officials at the Ministry of Health in Warsaw to alert them to this problem.
4. We explored opportunities to obtain clerkships and observerships in American medical schools in Chicago for students studying in Poland. This is an extremely difficult and complex process that requires overcoming many legal obstacles, malpractice insurance and patient privacy issues, as well as availability and willingness of faculty members to participate in this process. Since official agreements between Polish and American medical schools do not exist, we are using our personal connections with universities in Chicago to facilitate this process. We are in contact with our academic colleagues at the University of Chicago, University of Illinois and Loyola University, and thanks to their understanding and good will, we are making progress in securing academic opportunities for medical students from Poland.
5. We are connecting with recent Polish IMGs who were successful in obtaining residency positions in the US and asking them to share any useful information that might be beneficial for students and future graduates. We appeal to any students or residents to contact us and share their experiences.
I would like to thank PAMS Board members, particularly Dr. Ewa Radwanska, Dr. Ewelina Worwag and Dr. Adam Cios for their commitment to work on these issues.
Kornelia Krol, M.D.
President, Polish-American Medical Society in Chicago
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