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Biomed postdoc for a foreign MD

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Biomed postdoc for a foreign MD

Postby Sasha » Mon Sep 07, 2015 1:39 am

Ahoy all,

This isn't my field, so I'm here to pick your brains. I have a friend in Ukraine, very bright, MD in gastroenterology, a practicing physician also involved in research.

A friend suggested to me that she could in principle shoot for a postdoc in the US. Is this at all realistic? She sent her CV out for a bunch of openings, but no responses. I basically helped her compose it according to the NIH format, which was then double-checked by my buds in the biomed; everything looked nice, same with cover letters. No luck whatsoever though.

Thanks for your insight!
Sasha
 
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Re: Biomed postdoc for a foreign MD

Postby Dave Walker » Tue Sep 08, 2015 3:55 pm

Hi Sasha,

Welcome to our forum. Your question -- nice and straightforward! -- is a complicated one, unfortunately. There are some international members on this forum who chime in occasionally and could offer you some practical advice regarding some elements.

My question to you is: why do you say this is not a good idea? Simply because your friend received no responses? There may be reasons specific to your friend that are hidden deep in the details. Several factors that may determine the problem you are seeing: which schools is she applying to? What is the timeframe? Does she have external funding? Is the Ukranian government allowing travel of this kind?

By "no luck whatsoever" do you mean not even a reply, or just no openings?
"The single factor that differentiates Nobel laureates from other scientists is training with another Nobel laureate." -- Sol Snyder
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Re: Biomed postdoc for a foreign MD

Postby Sasha » Tue Sep 08, 2015 4:15 pm

Dear Dave,

Thanks for your response. I actually don't know _if_ this is a good idea, that was sort of my question. It is my understanding that she applied for existing openings, but received no responses. The Ukrainian government, whatever's left of it, is not interfering with any of this. It is all up to the employer's interest, just like with any other postdoc, I suppose.
She's been trying on and off for maybe six months. I really don't know what factors would play a role, other than something in her CV (or something that isn't there). But, as I said, I composed it, and I am an active researcher with a permanent research position at a major research institution, and my biomed colleagues were pleased with what they saw CV content wise. It could of course be that none of us knew what we were doing, there's always that possibility.

I am very open to further questions, as I'd really like to help my bud.

Again, thanks.

Sasha
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Re: Biomed postdoc for a foreign MD

Postby Dave Walker » Tue Sep 08, 2015 8:29 pm

Sasha,

I think this can turn into a game of "telephone" rather quickly, since we are discussing the situation of your friend once removed. In that vein, I will keep my answers brief to your general questions:

On the "if" question, my attitude is the tacky, self-empowerment route: if a postdoc is what your friend needs for her career -- and she is convinced of this -- then she should be working hard at it. Then it's a good idea.

There are more things than a CV in a job application. I'm sure you did a great job; it may or may not have been enough. Stuff like funding, visa issues, space in the lab, a PI's personal life, and the alignment of the moon and stars can affect the results.

Has your friend been just told "no thanks" from professors advertising positions? Or is she contacting PIs hoping that one might make room? If she is serious about this job hunt, then it simply requires more networking and more applications. Asking for feedback, if done correctly, can be a big benefit. A Tooling Up article goes into detail of what I mean: http://sciencecareers.sciencemag.org/ca ... t.a1400120

***

I'm just speculating, but I think you might be over concerned about the polish on the CV. Fortuitously, we've been discussing this exact situation a few threads down under "debunking job search myths." Check it out if you want to know more: viewtopic.php?f=1&t=10761
"The single factor that differentiates Nobel laureates from other scientists is training with another Nobel laureate." -- Sol Snyder
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Re: Biomed postdoc for a foreign MD

Postby Sasha » Tue Sep 08, 2015 9:39 pm

Dave,

This wasn't a question about networking skills and the job application process, my previous message was merely to guess what additional info you suggested I didn't provide and basically tell you all I know at this point.

Originally, I was asking whether it is at all appropriate (even in principle) for a foreign MD (not PhD) to shoot for a postdoc in the West.

I hear very different things about the job application process for someone in my friend's situation, given how tight the biomed field is. Some people suggested the normal dedicated application process (which I think you and I both subscribe to), while others said there's just no way, unless it's by personal reference, because of the visa issues, etc, etc.

So, back to my original question. Does it make sense?

Thanks,

Sasha
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Re: Biomed postdoc for a foreign MD

Postby PG » Tue Sep 08, 2015 10:09 pm

If this is what your friend wants to do it makes perfect sense. I am not in academia and also not in the US but I am working for a US based company and I know that our US scientific groups have hired several scientists (at least one initially an industrial postdoc) from Russia and I believe a couple from Ukraine.

Several of these hires have clearly been through the networking route ie for example a Russion scientist networking with people from the same region that already are in the US and using these comtacts to find a position.
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Re: Biomed postdoc for a foreign MD

Postby Sasha » Tue Sep 08, 2015 10:33 pm

PG, would it be cheeky of me to ask you if we could discuss this outside of this forum? I am in physics and it's extremely relaxed and informal in situations like this, so I am not sure if that would be an imposition. Thanks.
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Re: Biomed postdoc for a foreign MD

Postby BMK » Wed Sep 09, 2015 9:03 am

Sasha,

Given your friend has an MD, I think that maybe what your friend should look into isn't a traditional/classic postdoc (which isn't really thought of as something that makes sense for pure MD's, only PhDs and MD/PhDs, since you risk being out of clinical practice for too long and the background training you received is different), but rather a clinical research fellowship? Many institutions in the US have such programs specifically for foreign MDs; I can think of several off hand and am happy to point them out to you via PM.
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Re: Biomed postdoc for a foreign MD

Postby Dave Walker » Wed Sep 09, 2015 9:30 am

Sasha wrote:Dave,

This wasn't a question about networking skills and the job application process, my previous message was merely to guess what additional info you suggested I didn't provide and basically tell you all I know at this point.

Originally, I was asking whether it is at all appropriate (even in principle) for a foreign MD (not PhD) to shoot for a postdoc in the West.

I hear very different things about the job application process for someone in my friend's situation, given how tight the biomed field is. Some people suggested the normal dedicated application process (which I think you and I both subscribe to), while others said there's just no way, unless it's by personal reference, because of the visa issues, etc, etc.

So, back to my original question. Does it make sense?

Thanks,

Sasha


Does your friend want to do this for her career? Then it makes sense.

Is it appropriate? Of course! BMK's suggestion is important -- there are big differences between a postdoc and a clinical fellowship -- but the idea of training in the US is very much appropriate. I think anyone who has studied in graduate school has interacted with foreign postdocs. I think they make up a large part of the total number of postdocs out there (though probably not the majority).

The job market is always "tight" these days; however, there are hundreds of new foreign postdocs/fellowships hired in the US every year. This is, I believe, an over-simplification of things, and I wouldn't let the (perceived) difficulty of applying to a job get in the way. If it's what your friend wants to do.

I actually do no ascribe to the "dedicated" application process; I recommend your friend talk to PIs directly to see if they have openings or know of anyone who does. Ideally, some of her mentors or classmates in the medical world can help with this.


Dave
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Re: Biomed postdoc for a foreign MD

Postby Sasha » Wed Sep 09, 2015 11:35 am

Thanks all. The complicating factor, I suppose, is that there isn't much networking she can do via her colleagues, because there aren't many Western contacts they have.
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