As a student, externships are a great opportunity to see clinical settings in action and help determine the type of residency you want. Choosing a wide variety of externships can help narrow your focus if you have no idea what type of program you want. Your externship search can also help you hone in on the specific program components you believe would most further your career goals. At The Institute for Podiatric Excellence and Development (IPED), we offer a synergistic bridge between students and practitioners. Our belief is that networking and sharing ideas and experiences is the best way to improve the field of podiatric practice for patients and practioners alike. Membership allows you to take advantage of many resources which can greatly enhance your externship search. Some other factors to keep in mind include:
- Location—are you wed to a particular place for your externship due to financial, academic or family obligations? If so, you’ll need to confine your search to an acceptable mile radius from where you need to be. Be prepared to be flexible with the type of program and look more to the structure and credentials of those administering the program.
- Expenses—the cost of externships can vary greatly. Factors to consider are travel to the location of the externship, housing, transportation, meals and other incidental living expenses.
- Timeframe—don’t have preset notions about how long your program should be. Many times simply visiting a program gives you all the information you need without actually having to extern there. In some cases, the cost may be too high for you to spend an entire month.
- Ask good questions—time and money would never permit you to try out all the externships that interest you. When asking students about externships they’ve had, get specific with your questions to weed out “feelings” and find out important facts, such as: a typical day, surgical load, number of residents and attendings, etc.
- Know the requirements—pay close attention a program’s GPA and other requirements. For those residency programs that are at the top of your list, be sure you find out if you need to extern or at least visit in order to be considered. Careful planning now can help avoid major disappointment when it’s time to apply.