An Interview with Fred Valente Regional Advisor, ECFMG Exchange Visitor Sponsorship Program
Fred Valente celebrated his 30th year as an ECFMG employee this fall, working as a regional advisor for the Exchange Visitor Sponsorship Program (EVSP). The following is an interview conducted by Journeys in Medicine to chronicle his achievement.
30 years! How does it feel to reflect on this milestone moment in your career?
Return with me now to the thrilling days of yesteryear, 1989. The Berlin Wall was torn down. The Dalai Lama won the Nobel Peace Prize. The World Series was postponed for ten days as a result of an earthquake. An entire generation grew up since I started working here. Considering that this sort of longevity in one job is practically unheard of these days, I consider myself to be extremely lucky. Through my three decades, I have worked with many wonderful and talented people. We have always worked hard… really hard. We also laughed together and, sometimes, we cried.
By Tracy Wallowicz Director, ECFMG Exchange Visitor Sponsorship Program and Compliance
The one-year anniversary of Journeys in Medicine is the perfect time to reflect and reminisce about the past year and to look ahead with excitement to all of the amazing exchange visitor (EV) physician stories yet to be told. The impact that EV physicians have on health care in the United States and around the world cannot be underestimated and it has been both an honor and pleasure to tell their stories through our blog. While I have truly enjoyed each and every blog entry, below are a few of my favorite quotes from the past year.
“Surgery in the USA, huh? Do you know what are you doing with your life?” That was a quote from one of my friends.
Surgery is the most precious thing that happened to me. It was my dream to be a surgeon, but things got complicated when training in the USA came into play. I, like most of my friends during my medical school, thought surgery residency in the USA was an impossible task to accomplish, given the visa, high test scores, and research required to be competitive with US medical graduates. I dreamt of being a surgeon, day and night since childhood. So to me it was like a vision that only I was able to see, the passion only I was able to feel, the road only I had to walk, so that when I eventually make it come true it will become a hope for the people around me.
The arduous winding journey for international medical graduates seeking to continue medical education in the United States is one only for the brave at heart. From the grueling USMLE exams to the apprehension of Visa interviews at the US embassies, with a melange of sweetness whenever that FedEx envelope arrives with your ECFMG certification, culminating on Match Day where you finally get to know if you have been accepted into a program— is a summary of years of hard work, dedication and huge financial commitment. For those who make the mistake of thinking the process of getting in is the hardest, they soon learn that staying in is probably harder, confronted with an entirely new system of medical practice, far away from loved ones and the comfort of a familiar environment. What has kept many international graduates going is finding your purpose, understanding why you put in so much of your life to get to this point.
Have you ever done something for the first time and had great anxiety about doing it? If your answer is yes, we are in the same boat.
When I started my residency training as a first-year psychiatry resident, I had many fears and worries. Imagine a doctor who has to work in another country, use English as her second language, and see patients in a diverse population. I had fear that my patients wouldn’t be able to understand my accent; fear of judgment from my colleagues; and fear of making mistakes. The working environment in the United States is far different from Thailand. I used to write paper chart back in my country, but now I have to type everything to the Electronic Medical Record (EMR). In Thailand we have Universal Health Care Coverage, unlike the healthcare system in the United States, where everyone has insurance.