-We are meeting today with Dr.Tarek Razek. Dr.Razek is the chief of the division of trauma surgery at the Montreal General Hospital.
-Welcome Dr.Razek, Thank you for participating with us in this matter.
You are most welcome.
-Dr.Razek, could you tell us a little bit about yourself?
I did my training in McGill and University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. I am the director of the Division of Trauma since 2006. Part of my family is from Egypt.
-Dr.Razek, you know that getting matched into Canadian residency programs for Middle Eastern candidates is getting more competitive than ever. Part of the challenge is having a good strategy to approach this issue. In your opinion, what would make a good candidate?
Well, first of all, I give the advice I am giving you now to any Canadian applicant. There are many things candidates can do to have more chances of being matched. I would recommend starting early, I would recommend doing clinical electives in Canada while they are students or in the internship. This would help them to have exposure to the work environment here in Canada.
-What are your recommendations to make the best possible impression when doing an elective?
There are two major aspects here; first is the knowledge. We would expect the student to have a decent knowledge about the rotation he or she is doing. I would recommend reading North American literature (books, articles) about the specialty before starting the elective. Second is the attitude, the attitude involves many aspects. For example, doing the job you are expected to do is a sign of a good attitude. So before beginning, you should ask someone in the service how does it run? What are the responsibilities of everyone? What are the objectives of students and junior residents? Knowing these aspects will help you to integrate yourself within the team much easier.
-What else do you think a student can do in the elective?
Well, attending morning rounds would be important, also knowing the patients very well. Being an active member of the team would make a good impression. So the student should present some cases in the morning rounds and participate in the service meetings. Doing that will make everyone knows him/her. The student should also look for chances to work with the staff so he/she can be assessed more closely. But I think this should be approached within the system. So he or she can do on calls at night for example, at that time there will not be many members of the team and the staff will be present if there is a case. The student should book an appointment early in the elective with the program directors to let him/her know of his/her interest.
-Are there other things an applicant can do besides doing an elective?
Yes of course, doing a master’s degree or a research fellowship would be very helpful. It adds a lot to the CV. It is also crucial that the applicant finishes the projects and publish them. Finishing your projects reflects that you take things to the end and demonstrate a good capacity.
-Do you think speaking other languages besides English, like French would be helpful?
Since we are in Quebec I think speaking French language would add to the applicant but at the same time we give a huge importance for the proficiency in English. Don’t forget that we are an English institute at McGill so mastering English is important. And I mean by that not only in oral communications. But also in normal writing and academic writing.
-What would you think would also make the CV standout?
Well, for first it is important to write the CV in a professional way. It would be helpful to use a professional format such as McGill’s format (You can find it at our website at the CV section)
Having a research experience and publications is important.
Having extra curricular activities would reflect a good candidate. And there are different levels here. So a candidate whose hobby is football is not like a professional footballer and the last in not like someone who won some medals in football. The last one is the best. But again it does not have to be an activity in sports. Any hobby that you have developed to a certain level where you became very extinguished at it so you won prices or have a business based on it for example.
-Why is that?
Because having someone who is an athlete and an achiever in that and very good at his or her studies at the same time reflects someone who is very disciplined. It takes a tremendous amount of discipline to be accomplished at your hobby and medicine at the same time.
-Do you think there is any other point that is important?
A candidate should understand that the residents are integral to the process of selection. If they do not like a candidate it may negatively impact the applicant. We look into having efficient teams that work in harmony so we avoid taking someone who could raise potential conflicts.
By coming here you should realize that you are a foreigner so you do not understand everything in the culture here and that is OK. You should accept that fact. If I go to Japan for example I will be the foreign guy because I do not understand their culture and this is OK. The way to approach it so you will be integrated smoothly into the team is to accept that there things about the culture and work environment that you do not understand. Try to employ the techniques we spoke about few minutes ago so you will be integrated into the team smoothly. It takes time to understand the local context of the culture and it can add a great value to the person. I think it is important to have a good approach towards different cultures. Being positive about the new culture and taking the time to understand it could enrich both sides. It would enrich the new comer by knowing how this group of people think and what is their habits and so on. And having an open mind about the new culture would lead people to also try to understand the culture of the new comer so it will enrich them.
-Dr.Razek thank you very much for your valuable advices.
Thank you very much and best of luck.