Dear Programs using Thalamus, Applicants preparing to use Thalamus, and the entire GME community:
This weekend, I wrote my annual “residency recruitment season is about to begin” announcement email. Many of you will receive that email on Tuesday, and I am very much looking forward to this interview season as usual.
However, my message today is anything but usual. As many of you are likely aware, Hurricane Fiona has created challenges in many areas throughout its path. One of the most critical at this time is Puerto Rico, where the devastation has again halted much of the Puerto Rican infrastructure, reminiscent of what happened during Hurricane Maria in 2017. As of 11pm ET, on Sunday, 9/25/22, in the middle of National Hispanic Heritage Month in the US, nearly 900,000 households (60% of the island) are without power, and 20% of the island is without running water.
Power outages and structural damage also occurred in Eastern Canada. This includes 80% of Nova Scotia and 95% of Prince Edward Island. Fiona has also affected parts of Caribbean, including the Dominican Republic and Mexico. Globally, a recent earthquake hit Pakistan.
With the Electronic Residency Application Service (ERAS) opening on Wednesday, September 28th at 9am ET, this creates obvious challenges for the GME community.
Those impacted include:
- Applicants at Puerto Rican Medical Schools including 1) Ponce Health Sciences University, 2) San Juan Bautista School of Medicine, 3) Universidad Central del Caribe, 4) University of Puerto Rico School of Medicine, and 5) University of Puerto Rico, Medical Sciences Campus.
- Applicants from affected Canadian Provinces including Faculty of Medicine at Dalhousie University (Halifax, Nova Scotia), Dalhousie Medicine New Brunswick, Centre de formation médicale du Nouveau-Brunswick.
- Applicants native to the affected Puerto Rican or Canadian areas (including fellowship candidates for programs actively recruiting).
- 43 active residency programs in Puerto Rico that will begin recruiting on Wednesday, 9/28. 31 active fellowship programs, several of which are currently in the heart of their recruitment season.
- Applicants applying as international medical graduates in areas of the world such as the earthquake in Pakistan, where reporting on natural disasters and power outages will be less available.
I know this situation well because I lived a version of it. While my experience pales in comparison to the extreme conditions facing those from Hurricane Fiona, my residency application season was disrupted in 2012 when Hurricane Sandy passed through New York City. In fact, this was a major driver for the creation of Thalamus and is intimately intertwined with our organization’s DNA. Now 10 years later, our organizational mission is to ensure the right doctors end up in the right hospitals to treat the right patients. Our vision is to ensure doctors achieve their life dream of practicing medicine and to help hospitals serve their mission and their community. These outcomes ultimately help the broader health care system improve patient care.
Our entire team at Thalamus supports this mission through our culture, and collectively we want to help. Effectively immediately, Team Thalamus will provide the following support:
- For all affected applicants in Puerto Rico, Canada, the Caribbean, Mexico, Pakistan or elsewhere: Our team are experts in GME recruitment, including 90% of our customer support team being comprised of former program coordinators/administrators. If you are having technical issues because of the effects of the storm, our team is happy to support you. Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions.
- For all affected Puerto Rican residency and fellowship programs: we will provide our full product suite, Thalamus Prime + Cerebellum, free of charge. While our software, of course cannot run without Wi-Fi/power, our hope is that as power is restored, the time saving afforded (hundreds of hours on average) by using our software will allow programs additional buffer to make up for lost time. For any programs interested in this offer, please write to us at email@example.com with the subject line: “Puerto Rico Thalamus Offer.”
- For the entire GME community: Please assist us in amplifying this message during the start of this recruitment season. The power outages will undoubtedly affect some applicants as they finish their applications and/or have complete their application materials (LORs, MSPEs, etc.). Similarly, applicants may have limited broadband connectivity affecting interview scheduling and email communications. As GME has come together throughout the pandemic, please exemplify this same spirit of support by accommodating applicants and programs where possible and please be kind.
- For affected applicants in affected medical schools/areas: The official announcement will be released on Tuesday morning, but we have launched a 501.c3 non-profit, Thalamus.org, which was created to provide scholarships to underrepresented in medicine (URiM) students to assist with the costs of applying to residency. While our first awards will be announced by the end of the month, we are also proud to announce an Emergency Stipend for Residency Applicants affected by Hurricane Fiona.
This stipend of $100 is available to all medical residency applicants applying this recruitment cycle who are living in areas or whose medical school has been affected by Hurricane Fiona. Update (9/27): This stipend is also now available to students in Florida (and in other areas) that are affected by Hurricane Ian.
- To apply, please write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line “Emergency Stipend,” a few sentences requesting the funds and why they are needed, and a copy of your CV as required documentation.
- For individuals looking to donate to this initiative, please select the donate button in the upper- right-hand corner of any Thalamus.org screen (or donate directly through Paypal here.
In addition to the funds already available, ThalamusGME will be making a $10,000 donation to Thalamus.Org to support this initiative.
On behalf of our team at Thalamus, we wish everyone the best recruitment and interview season possible. We continue to be humbled and privileged to work the GME community. And we are honored to be able to further support applicants and programs during this time of need.
Thank you to all who support GME and medicine through pandemics, hurricanes, and more.
Jason Reminick, MD, MBA, MS
CEO and Founder, Thalamus