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Who is an International Medical Graduate?

A physician who received a basic medical degree from a medical school located outside the United States and Canada that is not accredited by a U.S. accrediting body, the Liaison Committee on Medical Education, or the American Osteopathic Association is considered an International Medical Graduate (IMG). The location/accreditation of the medical school, not the citizenship of the physician, determines whether the graduate is an IMG. This means that U.S. citizens who graduated from medical schools outside the United States and Canada are considered IMGs. Non-U.S. citizens who graduated from medical schools in the United States and Canada are not considered IMGs.

The Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates

What is the ECFMG?

The Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates (ECFMG). It was founded in 1956 to assess whether IMGs are ready to enter ACGME-accredited residency programs in the United States. You must be certified by the ECFMG before you can start a graduate medical education program. Visit www.ecfmg.org(www.ecfmg.org) for more information.

Requirements for ECFMG Certification

International medical graduates must complete all of the requirements to be certified. The ECFMG will then issue a Standard ECFMG Certificate.

1. Application for ECFMG Certification

Submit an application for ECFMG certification before applying to the ECFMG for examination.

Consult the World Directory of Medical Schools(www.wdoms.org) to confirm that students and graduates from your medical school are eligible.

2. Examination Requirements

IMGs must pass Step 1 and Step 2 of the United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE), which are the same examinations taken by U.S. and Canadian graduates. Time limits may apply. Detailed information on the USMLE is available at www.usmle.org(www.usmle.org).

  • Medical Science Examination
  • Pass Step 1 of the USMLE
  • Pass Step 2, clinical knowledge, of the USMLE
  • Clinical Skills Examination
  • Pass Step 2, clinical skills, of the USMLE

3. Medical Education Credential Requirements

  • Physician’s medical school and graduation year are listed in the World Directory of Medical Schools
  • IMGs are awarded credit for at least four credit years of medical school
  • Documentation for completion of all credits and receipt of a final medical diploma
  • Final medical school transcripts

The Certification Process

The first part of the certification process starts when you apply to ECFMG for a USMLE/ ECFMG identification number. Once you obtain this number, you can use it to complete the application for ECFMG certification. Once you submit your application for certification, you may apply for examination.
 
Medical students and graduates can begin the certification process. Because one of the requirements of certification is the verification of your medical school diploma, you cannot complete the process until you have graduated. You can apply for the required examinations as soon as you meet the examination eligibility requirements. All of the required examinations are offered throughout the year.
 
The Federation of State Medical Boards publishes state-specific requirements for initial medical licensure, including minimum postgraduate training required, number of attempts at licensing examination allowed, and time limits for completion of licensing examination sequence needed for license eligibility. This is available at www.fsmb.org/policy/public-resources/state_specific(www.fsmb.org).

Applying to U.S. Graduate Medical Education Programs

The Fellowship and Residency Electronic Interactive Database Access (FREIDA® Online)(www.ama-assn.org) is the online directory of graduate medical education programs sponsored by the American Medical Association (AMA). The Accreditation Council on Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) also offers a residency directory at www.acgme.org/ads/Public/Programs/Search(www.acgme.org). The AAFP offers an online family medicine residency directory that has search functionality beyond those of the other two.

For each medical specialty, there is specific information on individual programs and any general or special requirements for application. Application deadlines may vary among the programs, and you should contact programs directly about their deadlines.

Most programs require applicants to submit their applications using the Electronic Residency Application Service (ERAS®). The ECFMG coordinates the ERAS application process for IMGs. Visit www.ecfmg.org/eras(www.ecfmg.org) for more information.
 
The National Resident Matching Program (NRMP®) is the mechanism for connecting programs and applicants. The NRMP also coordinates the Match for U.S., Canadian, and IMG students and graduates. If you wish to participate, you must register with the NRMP and submit the needed materials.

Residency Program Requirements

Many residencies list their program requirements for applicants on their websites, such as medical school graduation year, types of visas accepted, or number of allowed attempts on the USMLE. Research residency requirements before applying, and direct the submission of your applications appropriately.
 
Because offers made and accepted during Match Week will be binding under the Match Participation Agreement, only applicants eligible to begin training on July 1 in the year of the Match will be allowed to participate. The NRMP will exchange data with the ECFMG to recertify the status of IMGs.

Obtaining a Visa

To participate in U.S. graduate medical education programs, IMGs who are not citizens or lawful permanent residents must obtain the appropriate visa. The two most common visas are the H1-B (Temporary Worker) or the J-1 (Exchange Visitor). Some institutions will sponsor the visa for residents in the residency program.

The ECFMG is also authorized by the U.S. Department of State to sponsor foreign national physicians for the J-1 visa. Questions about obtaining a visa should be directed to your residency program staff, the U.S. embassy or consulate in your country of residence, or the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.

Resources

Graduate Medical Education Resources

USMLE Forums         Your Reliable USMLE Online Community     Members     Posts
IMG Residency Match ForumInternational Medical Graduates (IMGs) discussing the residency matching process.


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This is the guide for match from previous year thread, thank you MishkaMd for such a well written guide.

Here are the steps to getting your MyERAS ready for the Match:
  1. Token - Starting June 23rd, 2016 go to ECFMG website, go to your OASIS and click ERAS support section at left hand bottom and choose to buy a Residency Token. The token is valid for the match year.
  2. AAMC - After purchasing the Token you will get a special serial number. Go to AAMC website and register it. This will give you access to MyERAS profile in order to begin updating your profile with information and documents for the upcoming match.
  3. Filling out your ERAS profile
    • You will be prompted to fill in some general information at first, such as your school, date of graduation, whether you require visa or not and etc.
    • Within that same application you will also fill out your CV by adding experiences and writing how many hours you have done and small descriptions of what you have done during that time.
    • N.B. Work experience is everything that was a rotation, observership, clinical teaching. Volunteer experience is pretty much everything else (clubs, being part of societies, workshops, etc). There will also be a separate section for research.
  4. Document Upload
    • Letters of Recommendation (MyERAS). This is about generating PDF’s to send to those who will write them and upload on your behalf. If you are an IMG and have non-waived letters, upload them via OASIS. You have two choices: waived or non-waived. Non-waived letters are simply uploaded by you. “Waived” letter means that you don’t get to see the letter and it is uploaded by the person who is recommending you. These letters are considered much stronger.
    • Starting last year, AAMC introduced the concept of waived letters being submitted online via a secure network. The process works as such: you go on your MyERAS profile and click on the documents section. There you carry out a request for a letter of recommendation but filling out the name of the person who is recommending you and their position. After you click below tp authorize the generation of PDF file. This file contains instructions for the letter write on how to upload the letter succesfully on your behalf. Send this PDF to your letter write and have them follow the steps. As a suggestion, these letters may take up to two weeks to process, so get them done early! You will be able to check if they have en uploaded by checking your ERAS section in OASIS.
    • Other documents (upload via OASIS in the ERAS section) -They are you LOR’s, your transcripts, your CV, your passport photograph, your personal statement and MSPE
    • If you are an IMG, generally MPSE is uploaded by you. If you are an AMG, the school will upload them on your behalf. MSPE’s are released after October 1st, 2016.
  5. Search and Select your programs by Clicking on “Programs” Tab.
    • You can search them by AAMC or NRMP ID or even by location. You should have a good idea of where you want to apply to by now.
    • The best resource for research is FREIDA. Go to FREIDA, and set your own filters. After selecting the programs, try visiting their website to find out any requirements which may cost you an automatic disqualification from the game. Pay close attention to programs that don’t sponsor visas.
    • Remember, It is always best to check their websites and request any addition information first hand, then to trust lists people created years ago. Try to do this step before July, as it will save you lots of time!

  6. Click on “Programs” tab and click on each program and check boxes in order attach the necessary documents to them. These include LORs, Photo, and your USMLE transcripts. NOTE! Your USMLE transcripts can only be checked when the application season opens on September 1st, 2016. There is a one time fee of 65$ I believe that will be included in your final invoice.
  7. On September 15th, 2016, go to your programs list and check the box next to each program. Scroll down and complete the steps to make the payment. Once you have paid, wait to receive your confirmation.
  8. To kill 2 birds with one stone: After you have completed the payment, go to NRMP website and register for the match. It is a one time 65$ fee. This will come in handy in February, when you will do your ranking.
  9. You can check the status of your ERAS application for each program in ADTS, which is located on the top right bar next to “Messages.”
  10. Now the wait begins. You will get notifications to your e-mail and ERAS “Messages” section for interviews and rejections!
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