FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

1. Is there any flexibility for the application deadline dates?

We understand that sometimes it can be hard to achieve that deadline, but since we have a timeline for the process we won’t be accepting applications after the deadline.

2. Once my application is submitted, when should I expect a response from the PGSSC?

The application screening lasts until early October, so you should hear back from us during the first weeks of October regarding the date of your interview.

3. It looks like the application opens in May and closes in August, but what is the process for deciding after August? Is there a round of interviews, and when do those individuals who have been selected generally know they are in the program?

We go through an application screening, and after that, we decide who is going to go into the interview rounds. After all the interviews are completed, we choose the candidates and by November you will be receiving a notice from us letting you know if you got the position or not.

 

4. How many Research Fellows and Research Collaborators do you accept each year?
The number of accepted applicants varies from year to year depending on resources and project needs. Generally speaking, there are 6-8 RF/RC accepted per year.

5. How is the Fellowship funded?
Currently, this is an unfunded fellowship, therefore we encourage applicants to apply for external funding as soon as possible. 

6. Does the Fellowship assist with housing?
The Fellowship does not provide housing. Many resources are available to help find rentals in the Boston area.

7. Does the PGSSC provide scholarships to accepted research fellows and research collaborators?

The PGSSC does not currently fund research fellows or collaborators. However, applicants are welcome to apply for grant funding from external organizations. Applicants can reach out to current research fellows, research collaborators, and/or faculty to develop these applications if project details are required. 

8. Is the source of funding mandatory for the acceptance of the candidate or the source of funding can be specified once admitted into the program?

The source of funding can be specified once admitted to the program; however, acceptance is contingent upon adequate funding. 

9. What funding opportunities, if any, have research associates previously used to support research, travel, and living costs?

Previous fellows and RCs have utilized a variety of funding sources, including scholarships, grants, personal savings, and moonlighting. Surgical societies, global health foundations, NGOs, and many others have funds for which an individual person may apply. If you are interested in an opportunity that requires a description or proposal for an intended project, please reach out to a current PGSSC fellow and/or faculty member to help you develop and refine your idea.

10. Who is eligible for the Research Fellow position?

The Research Fellow position is open to those who have graduated from medical schools and are working as residents and registrars in obstetrics and gynecology, anesthesia, and any surgical subspecialty. The PGSSC recognizes the critical role that each specialty has to play in advancing the mission of safe, affordable, timely surgical, anesthesia, and obstetrics and gynecology care when needed. If you are unsure about your eligibility, please enquire at pgsscboston@gmail.com

11. Who is eligible for the Research Collaborator? 

The Research Collaborator position is open to students currently enrolled in a health-related graduate degree such as an MD (or international equivalent). Students who have recently graduated with an MD (or international equivalent) and who do not meet the eligibility criteria for a Research Fellow may also apply as a Research Collaborator. If you are unsure about your eligibility, please enquire at pgsscboston@gmail.com.

12. Am I eligible to apply as an international applicant?

Yes, we welcome both U.S. and international applicants for the Research Fellow and Research Collaborator positions.

13. As a Research Fellow, can I only participate in the program for one year?

The Research Fellow portion of our program is designed as a two-year time commitment.

 

14. Is it possible to do parts of the MPH during the academic year?Yes, although coursework during the academic year leaves less flexibility for international travel. Research Fellows who wish to pursue the MPH must commence the program during their first year of the fellowship. Our past fellows have completed the MPH program as part-time students, full-time students, and summer-only students.

15. What MPH concentration do you recommend?
In the past, our fellows have enrolled in the Clinical Effectiveness, Global Health, and Quantitative Methods concentrations. The Clinical Effectiveness concentration and the Summer-Only MPH option typically give fellows the greatest flexibility to travel and work on research. We encourage you to talk with us and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health to determine the concentration that will work best for you.

Please note that the decision to pursue an MPH is up to the individual fellow, and tuition expenses will not be covered by the program.  

 

16. Are there clinical obligations for the fellows here in the US? What clinical role do fellows play at Boston Children's Hospital?
There is no mandated clinical role. There are no extramural clinical obligations, but research fellows with the appropriate credentials may apply for a Massachusetts medical license to pursue independent moonlighting opportunities at various local and Harvard-affiliated hospitals. 

17. If I have finished my residency program in or outside the U.S., am I still eligible to apply?

Yes, you are welcome to apply after you have completed residency training.  Please note that the Research Fellow position requires a full-time two-year commitment, so you are not eligible to apply if you have ongoing clinical duties during the time you will be participating in the program. 

18. Is an English proficiency test required for applicants?

There is no formal English proficiency test required; however, our program is conducted primarily in English and you will be required to submit a writing sample in English as one component of your application. We do ask that you are comfortable with both conversational and written English.  

19. Is there an age limit to be eligible to apply to the program?

There is no age limit to applying to the program. 

20. What distinguishes strong applications to the program?

Strong applicants to the program are strong communicators and team players, approach global health with a critical eye and a core focus on equity, humble, and curious. 

21. Are USMLE scores required? 

USMLE scores are not required as a component of the application, but if you have taken the USMLE exams or an equivalent standardized boards-type exam, we would like you to include those scores in your application. 

22. Can I continue to do full-time clinical work at the same time as the Fellowship? 

The Fellowship is a full-time commitment.  We work with partners all over the world and in many different time zones, and we require availability during regular working hours.  While we understand that some moonlighting/occasional clinical work may be necessary to fund your time at the Fellowship, we are unable to accept Fellows who are working full or part-time in a clinical or other research position. 

23. Can I continue to be enrolled and active as a Medical Student at the same time as doing PGSSC?

Please refer to the answer above regarding full-time clinical work.  The Research Collaborator position is a full-time one-year position and would require taking a leave of absence from medical school in order to participate and engage fully with the Program.

24. As a medical student, am I able to apply for a residency while in the program?

Yes.  Although the program for Research Collaborator requires a one-year commitment, students are generally able to be Boston-based during the residency interview timeframe.

25. Will I be able to work remotely if accepted into the PGSSC or will I need to move to Boston?

The PGSSC is in a transition process as we move from the program being almost entirely virtual (as a result of COVID-19) into an in-person program (as it was prior to COVID-19). At present Research Fellows and Collaborators are encouraged to join in person in Boston if possible but some do continue to work remotely. We are currently exploring the possibility of the program remaining hybrid to allow those unable to travel to Boston to still undertake the program - if accepted onto the program this will be discussed on a case-by-case basis. 

26. Would I be able to speak with a current or past Research Fellow or Research Collaborator regarding the program?

We would welcome you to reach out to current or past Research Fellows or Collaborators (previously called Visiting Graduate Scholars or Research Associates) if you have specific questions which are not answered within our FAQs. If you do not have a personal contact within the program you can contact the program via pgsscboston@gmail.com with any questions. Please do share some information about yourself and your question(s) if reaching out so that we can best direct you to an appropriate Research Fellow or Collaborator to help answer your question(s).

27. What is the outlook for international placement over the course of the year (especially given COVID-19)? Would research associates be expected to spend a full year abroad or are there opportunities for shorter placements, such as 2-3 months?

As the program continues to open up following COVID-19 lockdowns globally, Research Fellows and Collaborators will have increasing opportunities to undertake international placements through the program. To some extent, this will depend upon the lab to which you are primarily allocated - some labs encourage their Research Fellows and Collaborators to spend as much of their time as is feasible ‘in-country’ whilst others have minimal requirements to do so. There are also opportunities to undertake short 2-3 month international placements (for example with UNITAR, UGHE, or WPRO) particularly for senior Research Fellows. These placements require internal application which can be undertaken following acceptance into the program.

28. Can Research Collaborators complete dual-degree requirements (e.g. MPH) in conjunction with full-time research with PGSSC?

 

It is expected that all Research Fellows and Collaborators commit a minimum of 40-hours per week to the PGSSC. This means that completion of an MPH or similar degree within a year as a Research Collaborator has proved very difficult for previous RF or RC and we would strongly discourage incoming Research Collaborators from attempting to do this. We advise that completion of an MPH or similar degree should only be undertaken by Research Fellows committed to 2 years with the PGSSC.

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