Help for IMGs
Guidelines for International Medical Graduates (IMGs) Who Wish to Enter a U.S. Training Program
This is general information for international medical graduates who wish to enter a U.S. residency program. For more specific and up-to-date information, international medical graduates should contact the Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates(www.ecfmg.org) (ECFMG) or the National Resident Matching Program(www.nrmp.org) (NRMP).
1. Obtain the Standard Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates (ECFMG) Certificate.
International medical graduates must have a valid Standard ECFMG Certificate to enter Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME)-accredited GME programs in the United States. To become ECFMG certified, the applicant must:
- Pass the basic medical and clinical science components of the medical science examination, currently Step 1 and Step 2 of the U.S. Medical Licensing Examination.
- Pass the English language proficiency test.
- Document medical education credentials.
- Pass the Clinical Skills Assessment (CSA), which is administered in the ECFMG office in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, after certain eligibility requirements are met.
Further information regarding examination and certification may be obtained through contacting the ECFMG at:
Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates (ECFMG)(www.ecfmg.org)
3624 Market Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104-2685
Phone: (215) 386-5900
Fax: (215) 3869196
2. Apply directly to U.S. residency programs
Currently, there are more than 1,000 ACGME-accredited residency programs in the U.S. The American Medical Association maintains a list of ACGME-accredited GME programs in the U.S. which can be found at FREIDA Online(freida.ama-assn.org). The AAFP also offers a family medicine residency directory.
3. Register with the National Resident Matching Program (NRMP)**
Many programs only select applicants who participate in the Main Residency Match. It is possible that an applicant may not match with any of his or her selected programs as the number of applicants may be larger than the number of available positions.
For more information on NRMP, contact:
**Some residency programs require applicants to apply through the Electronic Residency Application Service (ERAS). If the residency programs in which you are interested require you to apply through ERAS, write to the following or call for an application:
4. If selected to a residency program, apply for the appropriate visa (according to your situation) to enter the United States as a student.
Questions on obtaining a visa should be directed to your residency program staff, the U.S. Embassy or Consulate in your country of residence(www.usembassy.gov), or the U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services(www.uscis.gov).
After One Year of Graduate Medical Education
1. USMLE Step 3 may be taken.
The Federation of State Medical Boards(www.fsmb.org) (FSMB) recommends that Steps 1, 2, and 3 be completed within a seven-year period. However, this varies from state to state.
State medical licensing authorities may require international medical graduates to have zero to three years of postgraduate education before being eligible for Step 3. Some states may also require an application for a state license at the time of applying for Step 3. To review state by state requirements, visit the FSMB Web Site(www.fsmb.org).
Currently, the USMLE Step 3 must be taken at testing centers in the United States or U.S. territories.
2. Upon successful completion of USMLE Step 3, candidates may apply for medical licensure from most individual states.
It is important to note that each state has different licensing requirements for physicians. Individual medical licensing authorities may accept the recommended pass/fail score from the USMLE, or they may establish a different passing score for their own jurisdiction. Contact the individual state licensing board to find out more about a state's licensing requirements.
A directory of state licensing boards can be obtained by contacting:
Federation of State Licensing Boards (FSMB)(www.fsmb.org)
P.O. Box 619850
Dallas, TX 75261-9850
Telephone: (817) 868-4000
Fax: (817) 868 4099
(Some information in the above sections is adapted from "The International (Foreign) Medical Graduate" by Nancy E. Gary which can be found in the 1998 second edition of the Guide to Graduate Medical Education, published by the Association for Hospital Medical Education.)