If you currently attend or graduated from medical school outside of the United States, you must first certify that you are eligible to enter residency programs in the United States that are accredited by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education. The location of the medical school, not the citizenship of the applicant, determines whether the candidate is an International Medical Graduate, IMG. Your application must be submitted to the Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates (ECFMG®) before you take the USMLE.
In order to be certified you must submit the application, pass USMLE Step 1, USMLE Step 2 CK and USMLE Step 2 CS within the allowed time limits, and present sufficient medical education credential requirements.
Certification does not guarantee acceptance into a residency program. IMGs must complete all of the standard residency application requirements, plus make sure that their application gives them an extra edge to stand out from the crowd. Here are some tips for residency success:
- Plan your USMLE studies carefully to allow yourself time to fully prepare for optimal success on the first attempt.
- Participate in observership rotations in a clinical setting before applying to residency programs to become familiar with U.S. medical practices and with U.S. doctors who can serve as references.
- Obtain letters of recommendation from licensed U.S. doctors. If possible, get these from your most recent clinical rotations opportunities.
- Learn about program requirements as part of the research process, including visas accepted, graduation year requirements and limits on USMLE exam attempts.
- Talk to previous graduates from your school and learn from their experiences and advice.
- Participate in medical graduate research to learn about the field and demonstrate commitment to your desired specialty.
- Choose your desired specialty early, so you can focus your observerships, electives and research efforts accordingly.
Once you are accepted into a program, if you are not a U.S. or Canadian citizen, you will need to obtain the appropriate visa. Some institutions will sponsor visas for students in their residency programs. The EFCMG is also authorized to sponsor visas for foreign national physicians. To learn more, contact your residency program staff or U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.