U.S. Docs Invited to Complete Pilot Survey on Best Specialty 'Fit'

Instrument Could Be Tailored to Help IMGs Choose Career Paths

March 15, 2011 05:40 pm Barbara Bein

Medical school graduates, including international medical graduates, or IMGs, who are interested in exploring which medical specialties would offer them the best "fit" may want to participate in a pilot survey project being conducted by the Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates, or ECFMG. In fact, U.S. practicing physicians from all specialties are invited to take part in the project.

A notice in the March 9 AMAWire reported that the ECFMG Acculturation Program(www.ecfmg.org) is piloting the survey, which already is commonly used in the United Kingdom, among U.S. physicians to determine whether the metrics involved in suggesting specialties for physicians in the United Kingdom are equally valid for physicians in the United States. The survey proposes the best and worst matches between participants and medical specialties based on the participants' responses to a questionnaire regarding professional and personal preferences.

Participants who complete the online survey will receive immediate and individualized feedback regarding the top 10 medical specialties in which they likely would be satisfied, as well as feedback on the 10 that probably would be their worst matches. Feedback also will include information about the typical characteristics of physicians in those specialties.

To help ensure the survey instrument's validity, the ECFMG hopes to gather responses from large numbers of U.S. physicians who already are in different medical specialties.

If validated, the survey instrument might be modified to help IMGs who are considering graduate medical education in the United States determine which specialties would be most and least appropriate for them, thus allowing them to submit residency program applications accordingly.

Viviana Martinez-Bianchi, M.D., associate director of the Duke Family Medicine Residency Program in Durham, N.C., and chair of the AAFP Commission on Membership and Member Services, told AAFP News Now that although the health systems in the United Kingdom and the United States are very different, the survey, if validated, may provide important information to those who complete it.

"The survey is long, but you can leave it and go back to it and continue or finish it at a later day," said Martinez-Bianchi. "We should all participate and see if it can be applied to the U.S. system, to U.S. graduates and to IMGs looking at entering the U.S. system."

FPs interested in participating in the pilot project can learn more about it by e-mailing the ECFMG and including their name and medical specialty.