Articles and Case Studies

A Sporting Elective in the USA

11 Dec 2017

USA sporting elective

I knew I wanted to travel to the United States of America (USA) for my elective, and experience all that it had to offer.

The medical landscape and system over there is quite different, and so is the cultural experience, particularly around sports.

I started the application process a year earlier, and applied to around 50 universities in the USA receiving varied responses. I was ecstatic when I was accepted to the Cleveland Clinic, rated the fourth best hospital in the USA and the number one cardiology/cardiothoracic hospital in the world.

It was at this point that they asked me whether I was interested in undertaking their sports orthopaedic elective with the doctors for the sports teams of Cleveland. This included the Cleveland Cavaliers in the NBA, Cleveland Indians in the MLB and Cleveland Browns in the NFL.

For me, a passionate fan of American sports, it was a dream come true! The elective was a mix during the day of sports medicine and orthopaedics as well as attending education opportunities at the Cleveland Clinic. The American medical system is very different to ours, with an innovative outlook and willingness to push the boundaries of medical technology.

The highlights were covering five NBA games courtside in case of injuries, attending the opening day of the baseball, spring training, and discussions around the physicals undertaken by potential NFL draft picks for the upcoming draft. A particular highlight was trying to convince newly drafted number one overall pick, Kyrie Irving, to play for the country of his birth, Australia!

An elective in the USA also opens up opportunities to travel during time off. I had the opportunity to visit Chicago for St Patrick's Day, drive to Toronto, and I also visited Florida. I’ve kept in touch with medical students and friends I made during the elective, two of whom have visited me in Sydney.

My advice on the elective is to START EARLY.

  • Find out exactly what the requirements will be for each place, as many need multiple documents from your university that can be difficult and time consuming to obtain.
  • Some programs will require the United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE) which is useful if you eventually want to work in the USA.
  • Apply to multiple places and be prepared to have backups in case it doesn't all go to plan.

I found the experience absolutely worth it – both from a medical and personal perspective.

Mark Bonnichsen (MDA National Member)
Physician Trainee, Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, NSW
(moving on as Gastroenterology Advanced Trainee in January 2018)


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