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Electives Experience

by Purav Mody


Electives : An Exhilarating Roller Coaster Ride!! 


Hi Friends!!!

                               This is Purav from GMC, Surat, India. I am presently doing my internship right now. The process of application to electives has been a fascinating journey for me which I would like to share with you. I first heard about electives from a classmate of mine when she went for her electives to Emory in our final semester. Initially I was a bit sceptical about it, but when I heard her experience I made up my mind to apply for electives and that’s where my journey began! At first when I started looking for colleges and about programs I didn’t even know what is visiting student or electives or clerkships or how to go about the application process. But slowly and steadily I mailed as many colleges as I could for information. It was a long tedious and sometimes a frustrating process being rejected for some reason or the other. Back then I did not know about Umar bhai’s wonderful website and when I finally found it on the net my first reaction was of immense surprise. All the information I was gathering about electives was right there and everything was arranged in such a lucid manner! Umar bhai’s website is as how I like to call it is an Encyclopaedia on Electives! That really impressed me and since then I am a regular! Coming back to the original story, the process of finalising colleges was very tough because I had not given my step 1, no TOEFL scores, did not know anyone on the faculty, had an average CV and came from a very ordinary but good government college so the list kept narrowing down. Also my college clerks did not make my task any easy. Getting my application forms signed, getting multiple copies of transcripts all was really tough and anyone who has dealt with Indian bureaucracy has an idea about what I am talking about. In the midst of my application I decided to give my TOEFL mainly because I saw on Umar bhai’s website how important it was! Finally with everything ready, apprehensively  I sent in my applications having no idea what the future had in store for me. I was hoping that I would at least get a single elective and I would be more than happy. Slowly the replies poured in and to my great joy I got accepted in my top 3 choice of colleges (Tufts, Yale, Jefferson) in my lines of interest Gastroenterology, Cardiology and Pulmonary Medicine respectively. Additionally I have also been accepted for Cardiology at Mt Sinai! Never in my wildest dream had I imagined such a scenario! I am truly thankful to everyone who helped me in this journey and Umar in particular! I have no idea what the experiences are going to be like but I am tremendously excited and want to make the most of it. I would like to share some points regarding my application process which are by no means complete. They are strictly personal and I strongly recommend everyone to go through the website for additional information!  

Positive Points

  1. Early Application:- I applied relatively early and I strongly advice everyone to do the same e.g. I started gathering information in April and sent Jefferson app by July however  my classmates who sent it in august were denied electives  because till March all medicine electives are full. Just matter of 20 days made all the difference! Also in colleges like NYU you have to send in a request for electives and it has to be done before May 15th and a friend of mine did it and he has been accepted for pulmonary medicine and cardiology! Even I missed the cut!


  1. Documentation:- Documentation should be perfect. E-mail the coordinator if you have any doubts. All my applications were complete and processed on time. Because of incomplete documentation few friends had to send additional documents and delayed their process unnecessarily!


  1. Post mailing scenario: - I guess there is a fine line everyone treads after mailing your application. Constant e-mailing and phone calling can annoy the coordinators  and at the same time a subtle reminder can go a long way! For example after sending my application to Tufts I called up the coordinator after a month. On speaking to her she told me my documentation was complete but I was ineligible for 2 out of 3 choices that I had written (I had written Sub Internships!)However she told me if I wanted alternate choices I could mail them to her. I wrote in Gastroenterology because I had not mentioned it previously and I got accepted for it! 


  1. Personal Statement: - I think this one document carries a lot of importance. It is the one chance to really impress upon the coordinator with your thoughts and views. I recommend to keep it short (mine was about 450 – 500 words, single page) and keep it honest. Good personal statement can really help to push your case for an elective ahead of others.


  1. TOEFL: - I highly recommend giving it if you have time and personally I sent my scores to even those schools who didn’t ask for it. It was a great way to further my application especially with the number of applications increasing every year!  Also the trends that I have been observing are that more and more colleges are making it mandatory. Case in point is SUNY DOWNSTATE and Mt Sinai who initially or say 4 months back did not require TOEFL, but now require it!


  1. Malpractice Insurance: - This is particularly a sticky point. Lot of colleges ask for it and the problem is how do you buy it and for how much time, when you have no idea regarding your acceptance in that college. I would suggest e-mailing the coordinator and assure her that once accepted you will buy the necessary coverage and mail it to her. I did this for Jefferson and they obliged!


  1. Immunization form: - All colleges usually have the minimum requirement of  titres or history of vaccination for MMR, Varicella (history of past disease is also acknowledged by some colleges) and Hep B . I got my titres done at Metropolis and was lucky to have all of them positive. This made filling of health forms really easy. In case you get negative titres go get vaccinated again and get document of vaccination and send it with your application. It might just work (a friend of mine did it and she did not encounter any problems)

Negative Points 


1.) My colleges are all expensive with high tuition fees but they are all really well known colleges and hopefully the experience will be worth it!

2.)  I have a TOEFL score of 112 which is really good but the problem was that I scored a little low on speaking 24. It did not make a major difference to most of the colleges but I could not apply to NIH where requirement was 26, so I strongly recommend that before giving TOEFL make sure that speaking is good because the rest sections are relatively easy and the minimum score requirement is not very high 

To wrap things up it has been an incredible journey so far and is by no means complete. I would be able to tell you a lot more when I actually attend these rotations. And finally the best advice I can give you is that always be POSITIVE and HOPE for the best! I didn’t come from the best of colleges, did not have a super CV, did not give my step1, my college is not affiliated to any college in the US! But I still managed to get 4 acceptances from really good schools. So go for it my friends and I wish you all the best and May God be with you. As Umar bhai has said it the best 

“Hope is a good thing, probably the best of all the things one could ever come across!!”  

If you have any queries regarding the above write-up/application process/electives  you can post it on the site or mail me at I would be more than happy to help you to the best of my knowledge. Best of luck!




Research Elective at John Hopkins


 I did recently got an acceptance "e-mail" from a faculty member  at John Hopkins University to school of medicine department/division of cardiology to join and contribute to their research. As a part of the required formalities they asked me to submit the papers through the register's office which I have done already. I have schedule the research elective to be round mid-may and i don't know if I will be able to receive the mailed acceptance letter still on time to proceed with the visa application.

I would like to ask for your opinion, based on your own experience with research/clinical elective, on the timing necessary for them to contact the faculty member, application approval and mailing of the formal acceptance letter? That it carries the same value if the faculty member write any acceptance letter and signs it?

I would be glad if you could promptly provide me your thought/opinion and any other tip/advise would welcomed as well.

Thanks for  the consideration and for the time you spared to read the comment.

Kindest regards.


step 1 becoming mandatory by most of the univ :(

Dear Umar sir,

I am awed by the valuable information u have shared in dis site n made the path easy to tread. All the luck and best wishes to u . 

i am from a private medical schul of india. i have given my final yr exams and am waiting for d results. I am veryy keen to do the electives. i' ll be appearing for toefl in the cuming month which will be soon after my results are out. 

In the mean time i am busy searching about the univ and their acceptance criteria, the thing which has cum to my knowledge is dat now most of the univ have made step 1 mandatory, though still dere are univ which donot require it

The next thing which is worryin me is their NYSED criteria. as i am from a private colg and am not sure if i meet this criteria.

 soo going by dis if i jss apply wid my toefl scores i ll have very few univ in hand which will accept me

Wat do u suggest me -

1) should i start my step 1 prep and get my scores asap.. which will increase the no of univ i can apply to.. but will take tym and consume most of my internship and therefore make me take an extension to succesfully complete my elctives.

2) or should i stick to univ jss requiring toefl and start applying for electives and have whole of my internship yr in hand thus not requiring any extension.

hey i am doing my third year

hey i am doing my third year now and i want to apply for electives but i have a nagging feeling that my being in odd batch cant possibly allow me to get an elective how bad can it be ?? i am really nervous about it . although i intend to give my step 1 and tofel before apply ..

I dont think it matters at

umar's picture

I dont think it matters at all...

I am very busy these days and won't be replying to anymore queries. Apologies for any inconvenience and thank you for your understanding. All the best.

jefferson -evidence ... ?

one of the requirements of jefferson is an evidence of sufficient financial support for living expenses for the period of time of the elective. i know this may seem like a very silly question ... what exactly do they require? a certificate or some bank statement or what?! 

HI! well its appropriate to

HI! well its appropriate to send them both, One from your sponsor stating their relationship with you that they have appropriate funds to sponsor your during ur study duration the travel etc etc..also a confirmation letter from  the bank that this person has xxxxx amount in the bank account.Dont amke the statements 6 months prior to your elective date.Good luck

hey...regardg immunizatn...u

hey...regardg immunizatn...u said u got 4m metropolis...wat dd u say name of tests as..n hw much dd tey chrg??

Charges at metropolis

I know this question is addressed to purav but since i have got it done it from metropolis (mumbai)...i will let u kno d charges dat i had to pay.

 (All amounts are in INR for IgG antibodies)

1. Diphtheria Ab - 1500

2. Hep B Ab - 770

3. Measles Ab - 950

4. Mumps Ab - 1000

5. Pertussis Ab - 1500

6. Tetanus toxoid Ab - 900

7. Varicella Ab - 900

8. Rubella Ab - 490

So the entire amt. comes to 9610. Since I took it on my hospitals prescription paper... I got a concession of abt 20-25% n got d whole thing done in 7166 INR.

 Hope that helps..

P.S: All amounts hereby mentioned are for information purposes only and do not contain financial interests! :-P



Hello, I was wondering where


I was wondering where I can do the free OSHA certification from? I remember seeing a post on this site here but I cannot find it now..

Check out the following link.

umar's picture

Check out the following link.

I am very busy these days and won't be replying to anymore queries. Apologies for any inconvenience and thank you for your understanding. All the best.


hi purav,

thanx for sharing ur experiences with us. it really helps the newcomers a lot. i want to know how much time HIPAA training takes. its 5th march today and i have time till 30th april to apply for the uni which is asking for it. but it also says electives are given on first come first served basis. someone told me it takes many days to complete the training. if it takes a lot of time and i can not complete it with my internship phase then it will not be of much use going for it..?? please advise. I got a TOEFL score 114, with 27 in speaking and 29 each in rest three.

and thanx to umar sir also.




Hey viraat

 dont worry hipaa will not take more then 2-3 hrs max... and the thing is if u fail ( which I am sure u won't) u can give the exam again! so click on the hipaa links given on this websites and finish it off and u can send the certificate of completion to ur coordinator!





Dear Umar Bhai,

i have been a silent reader of your website. I have been visiting it daily since the last 6 months. Thanks a lot for this website. Its the best website for electives.

Umar bhai, i am a final year medical student from india.i.e.not a final year medical student as per American Grading. My internship would start in January 2011 after my final year results are out in January 2011.(As i have to give my final year exams in December 2010)

I am very keen or rather desperate to go for electives.

can i apply for electives now in JUNE 2010,that is ,can i send my application package in june, for  scheduling my electives in January 2011???

If yes, what additional is needed to be wriiten in my Transcript???Is it okay if my college writes that i would be in my final year at the time of electives????

i was planning o apply to NYU this June. I would first have to send a form for request, any time between 12th April-10th May 2010. So wanted to know if i can still do it as i m not in final year as per the americans???

Thanks a lot.

 Dear Piyush Thanks a lot for

umar's picture

 Dear Piyush

Thanks a lot for your kind words. 

1. Yes you can certainly apply now in June 2010 for Jan 2011

2. Please visit the Transcript post and check the sample, in this website

3. Yes it is ok, if your college states you would be in final year

4. Yes you can send your request to NYU.

I am very busy these days and won't be replying to anymore queries. Apologies for any inconvenience and thank you for your understanding. All the best.

hey! I have applied only to


I have applied only to five univ for electives in the month of march.Many of my friends have already got acceptances. Ave still not got an acceptance. Do u think there is still a chance? will it be worth applying to other univ for the month of march NOW. Am waiting eagerly for a reply.


hi Narmada

                    have u got a definite no from all the 5 colleges. If not then you can still wait it out . Also try e-mailing the colleges you got a rejection from that you are willing for a change in subject preferences. It is worth a shot . Also if u r really keen on doing electives you can delay ur internship by few months and apply now for later months like may-june to additional colleges.

All the best



Research elective in Johns hopkins

 Hi umar

        I am a student from India. I have got Johns Hopkins research elective for march n april in pulmonary medicine.But at the same months I got clinical electives also in Toronto..Please suggest wat to do nw..I heard clinicals r somwat better..but cant loose hopkins..plz tel ur experience as you did in hopkins... thanx   bye..

Experience at Johns

umar's picture

Experience at Johns Hopkins... experience, schedule, work all varies from department to department... u can work in lab, in office, anywhere... there can be strict working hours from 8 am to 5 pm... or quite lenient.... there can be little work or more work load... varies from lab to lab and department to department... u can go to either of them, both are equally good. Probably u can delay either of them and do both of them...

I am very busy these days and won't be replying to anymore queries. Apologies for any inconvenience and thank you for your understanding. All the best.

research elective at hopkins


anyone here going / already done reasearch elective at hopkins??

i need help and info..


i did.....

umar's picture

i did.....

I am very busy these days and won't be replying to anymore queries. Apologies for any inconvenience and thank you for your understanding. All the best.

research elective at hopkins

 Hi Umar


I got acceptance frm hopkins for the research elective..I wanted to know how the experience was and wat ur schedule was what kind of work are v supposed to do n all..

where did u put up?

Also I there's an update regarding SUNY..they have made step 1 and toefl mandatory frm dec 1st..




 Hi, Thanks for the

umar's picture

 Hi, Thanks for the update.... experience, schedule, work all varies from department to department... u can work in lab, in office, anywhere... there can be strict working hours from 8 am to 5 pm... or quite lenient.... there can be little work or more work load... varies from lab to lab and department to department...

I am very busy these days and won't be replying to anymore queries. Apologies for any inconvenience and thank you for your understanding. All the best.

Hi vaibhav, in the

Hi vaibhav,
in the application for rochester , we have to complete the following part :


The student (will) (will not) be covered by basic ambulatory health care.  If not covered, the student must carry The University of Rochester’s health care at approximately $30.00 per month.  Malpractice insurance (does) (does not) cover the student while away from this school.  The student (will) (will not) pay tuition at this school during the extramural period.  Academic credit toward the M.D. degree (will) (will not) be awarded upon the receipt of a passing grade.  An evaluation of this elective (will) (will not) be required.
What should be our responses to the various statements in this paragraph??

@ Gurpreet

vaibhav's picture

Interesting ..... coz this was the same question i had asked Umar bhai a month back ..  ... here is how it should be.. 

 The student (will not) be covered by basic ambulatory health care.  If not covered, the student must carry The University of Rochester’s health care at approximately $30.00 per month.  Malpractice insurance (does not) cover the student while away from this school.  The student (will) pay tuition at this school during the extramural period.  Academic credit toward the M.D. degree (will)  be awarded upon the receipt of a passing grade.  An evaluation of this elective (will)  be required.

 Hope this helps.... God bless

 hi purav, could you help me

 hi purav,

could you help me with my application process??
i have a few queries: internship started on july 1st 2009 and is expected to finish on
june 31st applications will be ready by 15 nov. is this time
right to apply or should i alter something??
2.i would be very much obliged if u could email me copies of your
CV,Personal Statement,and letter of intent..i really have no idea on
what these things look like..please i request again.
3.what about osha and hippa ??did u have these when u applied?? i hav to send original transcript to each med school or can i
send them attested copies??coz our college issues only 1 provisional
5.for SUNY , the NYSED letter is required in advance ..did u get
it??how to get it??
6.also ,SUNY requires clerkship Grades.our college transcript doesnot
mention any grades.what to do??could u mail me a sample of ur

@ gurpreet

vaibhav's picture

About the comment purav is indicating was posted by me.. i just wanna clarify one thing.. u can get the transcripts attested by ur dean or any representative representating the college... At all colleges we get only one copy.. get it photo copied and get it attested..

One main advice about transcript - Do not send ur original transcript in ur application as it is not possible to get another if the original is lost  in the process... ( atleast in my college) ...

All the best... 

thanxx vaibhav...that was

thanxx vaibhav...that was really useful..i was kinda worried about this thing.

@ Gurpreet

vaibhav's picture

you are welcome... 


hey vaibhav thanks for the reply bro!


Hey Gurpreet

1.)I think your plan to apply on Nov 15 sounds good.If possible apply for electives in the later blocks (april May June) so that you have a better chance of gettin accepted.

2.) there are samples of cv on this website as well as on the net.however i can mail you mine also so tht u hv a better idea of how a cv looks like

3.)I recommend you undergo HIPAA training.Links from where you can do them are available on the website .I attached HIPAA certificate/TOEFL scores to all colleges application even if they didnt ask for it.Great way of furthering ur application. About OSHA i guess just read the recent comments. It is not a necessity and you can do it once you accepted. The colleges will give you the link.

4.)I got 4 copies of transcript from my college. I got coloured photocopies of the transcripts done with permission of my office clerk. It sounds absurd but clerk was ok if I made more colour photocopies but he would not give me multiple copies. Also if that is also not possible then I m not sure but i think i read a comment saying tht for if u are sending attested copies then get your dean to sign every page of ur transcript.

5.)In SUNY u mail in the NY letter of eligibility simultaneously when u mail in ur application. I did the same in Oct when I applied for electives in Jan.

6.)Finally,listening to ur problem makes me nostalgic coz i hv faced similar problems to yours when i was applying. My transcript also did not provide marks so i mailed the coordinator at SUNY regarding it. What u can do is make copies of ur marksheet and get them attested by the dean and put them with ur transcripts. This is also applicable with colleges like northwestern,tufts which also require grades in ur transcript.



Thank u purav...u and vaibhav

Thank u purav...u and vaibhav have been real helpful..

ur most welcome

ur most welcome

 hey purav bhai..m a final

 hey purav bhai..m a final year st from kashmir..well m the first stydnet from kashmir to be goin on for an elective{hopefully} my story is similar tourz except that it aint complete yet!! m in final year and havent applied as yet..stil got 6 mohs to completion..WHAT SHUD MY NEXT STEP BE...convincin my colg authorities is becomin difficult as i am the first wss ur advice on this...nn whn shud i apply..whn shud i giv toefel?? whn shud i go for titters..thanks a lot for ur article...god bless

@abdul rafeh

Hi Abdul

                           If ur doing ur medicine from india then i guess you still have a year of internship after final rite? If so then I would recommend the following things

1.)Give toefl so as soon as you start internship whenever that is jan feb or march u r ready with the toefl score

2.)get immunized with hep b vaccination and if required any other vaccine so   u hv ur titres ready. The reason I say this is because i was immunized earlier with hepb so i had no problems but many colleagues got their immunization done during internship and as a result their titres were not positive when they applied

3.) Also prepare a draft cv/personal statement in ur free time.

4.) And abt college authorities i guess its the same scenario at most of the colleges ! lol....however if u go during internship then u can always repeat those months (that is what i am going to do) so just be polite and try to make them understand.

Finally most importantly do not lose track of your studies because final year is very imp and if done well helps a lot in usmle prep so never compromise on it....try doing as many things as u can from the above list




vaibhav haven't got your mail or if some prob is coming then try mailing me at




Dear Purav brother,

Please send forward that mail to me also, i am also interested to do clinical elective posting there in US or UK, and facing the same prob as u mentioned earlier.

So it will be a great favor if you please help me in this regard.


Kind Regards,

Muhammad Usman Saeed

+92 345 8220000


 hey friends Purav here.... i am sorry for not replying to the mails u sent on ..... there was some problem with my account so i had no idea i was getting ur mails.... i just noticed it today so i will start replying an by tomorrow i promise i will get back to all of u ...

Sorry Once again!



@ purav

purav bro.... it was really heartening to read all dat u'v gone thru durin ur application days for d electives n d reward u'v got for it!!

i'm in my final year n have really gor a gr8 deal of inspiration frm ur experience regarding the same, particularly because i evn i dun hav USMLE step1...

hope u hav a gr8 time! lookin forward 2 ur guidance..

god bless umar bhai!

P.S : evn i wud contribute to this site in the tiniest way i can once i'm in a posn to write sumthin...


Hey andy

                I am really happy that this article inspires you. The sole purpose was to motivate people and also in my own way contribute to umar's effort.I am sure you will be contributing in future and i will be waiting for your post :-)



@ purav

vaibhav's picture

 Hey purav how u doin? and nice post... thank u for it.. was helpful...

Just wanted to ask u.. i had mailed Jefferson as u said but no reply yet.. What should i do? mail them again or wait? please suggest.. thankin u in anticipation..


Hey Vaibhav

                                           Thanks for your input! Jefferson people usually reply within a couple of days. At least that is what my and my friends experience has been.Nevertheless I can forward you the application material so you can start working on your application till they reply.Send me a mail to and I will get back to you



@ purav

vaibhav's picture

 hey Purav i did mail u few days back..guess the mail did not reach u.. i will surely mail u again.. n thank u about the application material...

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