The intent of the observer programs is to expand MD Anderson Cancer Center's global network through education. The Academic and Visa Administration-Trainee department manages and supports observer appointments to ensure that both the trainee and the host department benefit from the exchange of ideas and the educational collaboration.
Observer programs vary from six days up to 90 days dependent upon the goals and objectives of the trainee and the resources of the department. Trainee activities at this institution are governed by The University of Texas System Rules and Regulations, including the institutional Intellectual Property Policy. Trainees will be expected to maintain the confidentiality of university proprietary information, and to obtain approval from their chair/mentor/program director prior to disclosing or publishing any results of their activities at MD Anderson.
In order to foster the exchange of ideas and establish collaborations between institutions, the following eligibility criteria have been instituted. Applicants must meet the following criteria in order to be considered for an observer appointment at MD Anderson Cancer Center.
- All observer applicants must be sent from their “home” institution. The home institution must be able to support the visit in writing, outlining specifics of the visit as well as the expected outcomes and benefit of this experience to the home institution. Applicants who are not current employees/trainees during the observer appointment will not be eligible for appointment at MD Anderson
- Applicants must be specific when stating the purpose and goal of the visit to MD Anderson. Inquiries may be sent to the department of interest.
- All requests to observe are reviewed by both the Observer Program office and host department. A decision will be made to accept or reject the request based on available resources and nature of request.
- The observer appointment is an unpaid position that lasts for 90 days or fewer; therefore, applicants must be financially self-sufficient during the period of their appointment. Transportation, housing, health insurance and living expenses are the responsibility of the observer and/or home institution.
- Applicants must be able to secure the appropriate visa for the observer appointment, if applicable.
- Observers are expected to speak and understand spoken English with minimal difficulty. Departments may require a telephone interview or a passing score from the TOEFL exam.
Frequently asked questions
I have completed medical school and I am planning to apply to a US residency program this year. Am I eligible?
No. Please see eligibility criteria.
I am an international medical graduate (IMG) temporarily in the US taking my USMLE exams and would like to observe at MD Anderson. Am I eligible?
Only if you meet the home letter eligibility criteria and your VISA allows this type of experience.
If I am currently appointed as an observer with another US hospital and would like to observe at MD Anderson, am I eligible?
Only if you meet the home letter eligibility criteria and your visa allows this type of experience. We do not accept third-party letters of support; must come from your city or country of which you are employed or enrolled.
May I use an observer experience to fulfill a ‘rotation’ or ‘clerkship’?
No, the Texas Medical Board explicitly outlines the requirements for rotations to U.S. programs and or hospitals. You must also seek guidance from the ECFMG for J1 sponsorship.
If eligible based on the criteria for an MD Anderson observer experience, how do I apply?
Contact the department(s) of choice to determine space availability. Once accepted, the department will send a link for the web-based application system.
Who can I contact if I am having trouble with the online application or uploading specific documents required?
You host department can direct you to DISCOVER Support analysts.
Are specific immunizations required and why?
Yes, we require that you have proof of varicella vaccination and have completed a tuberculosis test within the 12 months prior to your start date.
When will I receive my appointment/acceptance letter to apply for my VISA?
After you have completed the online DISCOVER application and the host department has submitted your request to our office. Until you receive an official appointment letter from the office of Trainee & Alumni Affairs, you have not been cleared to apply for a VISA or to begin traveling.
When should I make travel arrangements?
After receipt of your official appointment letter from the office of Trainee and Alumni Affairs, which is only sent out when all of your application documents are submitted through our DISCOVER system and the hosting department has submitted all documentation to our office.
- Read the Observer Terms of Appointment (pdf).
- Review the Eligibility Criteria, listed above.
- Contact the department(s) of choice at MD Anderson Cancer Center to determine availability of observer positions.
- Once accepted, the department will create an account to start the application process through DISCOVER. DISCOVER is a web-based application system to streamline the selection and appointment process for observers.
- Upon receiving your DISCOVER account, complete the application and submit all required documentation.
- International applicants should allow 60-90 days for processing upon completion of application and documentation submission. (We will not sponsor visas.)
- Travel arrangements should not be made until an appointment letter is received from Research Trainee Programs.