The Faculty of Medicine (FK) Universitas Airlangga is widely known as one of the best medical schools in Indonesia. Since its establishment in 1913 as Nederlandsch-Indische Artsen School (NIAS), the faculty has produced professional doctors in the nation’s medical field.
The alumni have built professional medical careers at the national and international levels. Iswanto Sucandy MD FACS, UNAIR Medicine alumnus class of 1997, is one of them. Currently, the Hepatopancreaticobiliary surgeon works at the AdventHealth Medical Group General Surgery in Tampa, Florida, US.
Dr. Iswanto’s career first began in 2007 when he applied for a resident doctor position. ”At that time, I wanted to study overseas, to keep gaining knowledge until I finally landed here. A fellow alumnus at UNAIR told me, ‘maybe you should explore residency programs in the US,’” he stated in Dokter UNAIR TV, The story of UNAIR FK alumnus pursuing Hepatopancreaticobiliary in the US on Monday, January 23, 2023.
To conduct a residency program in the US, he had to take the United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE). The examination is mandatory for both Americans and foreigners who want to practice medicine in the US. After passing the exam, he spent seven years practicing general surgery residency, including at Jefferson Abington Hospital, Philadelphia.
After that, Dr. Iswanto took a fellowship program for Minimally Invasive Gastrointestinal Surgery at Yale School of Medicine for a year. He was offered a teaching position at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center but chose Tampa, Florida, to continue his career.
Medical career opportunities in the US
Dr. Iswanto also shared several opportunities he has received as a professional surgeon in the US. The US government is committed to accommodating surgeons to serve the patients.
“The government funds the teaching hospitals to train the surgeons. In the US, we got the government’s funds plus salary,” he said. The government also opens residency programs in teaching and non-teaching hospitals.
“Earlier, interns were only in universities. As time goes by, the government realizes that we need more medical specialists. Therefore, they open standardized residency programs in non-teaching hospitals,” he stated.
Tips on building a medical career in the US
To be a professional surgeon overseas, Dr. Iswanto believed that strong intention is the main key to success. Many of the doctors were unable to finish the internship program in a competitive environment.
Besides, preparing for USMLE is also required to familiarize with the exam system. “The US has its own examination system and we have to be familiar with the way it works. The problem occurs when the board tests the foreign doctors, they don’t pass as they are not familiar with the test,” he concluded.