"For Priyanka, Dr. Washington will always be remembered as the keen-eyed mentor who recognized her potential to become the doctor she hoped to be, respected and trusted her abilities, and gave her enough responsibility and encouragement to fulfill her potential."
Priyanka, a Mumbai-based IMG, started her journey just like thousands of other IMGs do - working day and night to find the perfect launchpad for their dream of becoming a resident doctor in the States. However, what differentiated her was her perseverance in proactively grabbing the opportunity instead of waiting for one.
The eager doctor was already working part-time as a medical scribe and researcher at Stanford University Medical Center when she came across Dr. Washington's externship program for IMGs.
What she needed was a rigorous yet flexible externship where she could get clinical experience with U.S. healthcare and a letter of recommendation. Dr. Washington's offering seemed like a perfect fit for her requirements. The resolute Priyanka didn't want to miss out on this opportunity to elevate her career. She requested Dr. Washington to relax her externship schedule. Dr. Washington saw the tenacity she held for her dream and allowed for the flexibility. What was supposed to be a 4-week long program turned into a 4-month long engagement where she joined once a week to learn and grow.
The long-term association with Dr. Washington, his clinic, and new batches of externs gave Priyanka more than just a completion certificate. This is where she built relationships, learned new techniques, and gained excellent skills while involved with patient care at the clinic. However, it was more than just the long duration of the externship that made Priyanka's experience worthwhile.
The Mumbai-based IMG liked to take the initiative at Dr. Washington's clinic, and he allowed her to explore and learn under his guidance. Priyanka felt one of the important contributors to her in-depth learning from the program was that her mentor treated all his externs as equals where a difference of opinion was encouraged and appreciated. He believed in helping them create a strong individual voice, especially his female externs so that they may be confident in their performance and profession. A medical professional's individual identity extends beyond their profession, and Dr. Washington wanted his mentees to exude confidence in all spheres of their lives.
Priyanka observed that Dr. Washington wanted externs to have confidence in what they already knew and build upon it. One month was a very short time, and he wanted his externs to be on their toes and make the best out of the opportunity. If somebody wanted to take the stage, he was happy to let them. Giving presentations to share with the team was encouraged as an opportunity to practice and enhance communication skills.
Priyanka was also very pleased that Dr. Washington personalized her letter of recommendation, highlighting everything she had accomplished during the externship, her skills, future goals, and the kind of residency program she preferred. He geared the LOR toward the specialty she was applying to and how her skill set would add to the program. His letter was the kind that would get people to trust a person even without them having been acquainted. He had a keen eye for capturing potential and penning it down in a recommendation that would take an extern place. Dr. Washington helped Priyanka step into a world of residency programs without any connections or contacts in the programs, and yet, she managed to become successful.
For Priyanka, Dr. Washington's training didn't end with the externship; she carried so much with her that would manifest in her career.