How do I get a medical residency in the USA as an International Medical Graduate?
International Medical Graduates are someone who achieves a medical degree outside the USA and in order to practice medicine in the US. They are required to go through the IMG Residency Match in the US.
The process could be quite daunting and challenging especially when students have no exposure to the US medical education system. And it requires completing certain steps.
The primary thing that you need to know is about the WFME (World Federation of Medical Education) which is an accreditation body and the NCFMEA (National committee on Foreign Medical Education and Accreditation) which is responsible for examining the accreditation standards of the Non- US medical schools.
In order to start the process your Non- US medical school should be accredited with the WFME as the medical schools accredited by the WFME are acceptable by the NCFME. If your medical school where you have completed your medicine degree is listed under WDOMMS (world directory of medical school) issued by WFME and FAIMER (Foundation for Advancement of International Medical Education & Research) only then you would be eligible to proceed with the IMG Medical Residency process.
You need to go through the following steps to get the medical residency and an opportunity to practice medicine in the USA.
Criteria and Requirements
USMLE1 - Basis science for Medicine
Step1- Understanding of Clinical Science for patient care
Step2- Medical knowledge in patient oriented setting
The very first step towards your residency would be to register yourself with the ECFMG (Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates) to begin the Residency match application process with the ERAS (Electronic Residency Application Residency) as the ECFMG certifies the qualification of the International Medical Graduates.
Clearing the USMLE steps
The USMLE is divided into 3 steps:
USMLE 1 – The step 1 is designed to judge you on the basis of your medical science knowledge
USMLE Step 1- This step is designed to judge your knowledge of medical foundation & clinical science understanding for the provision of patient care.
USMLE Step 2 - This test will evaluate your skill and medical knowledge employment in patient oriented setting
USMLE 3 - This is the final step in the USMLE wherein you have to show your skills in providing patient care in any ambulatory setting. You are supposed to take step 2 and step 3 in the US only. Step three of USMLE is required after the acceptance and start of Residency.
It’s very important to have US clinical experience. It’s part of the US residency requirement for all International Medical Graduates. You can apply for clinical rotation opportunities directly to different hospitals. Minimum 3 months of clinical rotation in the United States is required for residency for IMG. If successful the clinics will provide you with a letter of recommendation too. Sometimes it’s difficult to find such opportunities and in such cases there are paid programs too which many IMG join.
Register yourself with the ERAS
Once you have successfully completed the first 2 steps of the USMLE, you may then register yourself with the MyERAS portal; it is used to apply for the residency match programs. This is an electronic residency application by The Association of American Medical College (AAMC).
Choose your Residency programs
Once you have registered yourself with the ERAS, now you will have to pick the programs you want to do a specialty in. There are hundreds of residency programs in different specialties like Family or Internal Medicine, Orthopedic, Urology etc. It’s important to know which specialization you will be competent for. This depends on your clinical experience and letter of recommendation for any specific specialty.
Start your ERAS Application
Your qualification will be certified by the ECFMG and you will be given a unique ECFMG token number (a 14 digit alphanumeric number). The number is required at the time of your ERAS application to start your application. The documents needed for completing the application are-
- Residency SOP
- ERAS application form
- Letters of Recommendation
- Previous clinical rotation experience (min. 3 months)
- Type of Visa
Please note that Personal Statement is a most important document to showcase your passion and your abilities and experience relating to the subject / career you want to pursue.
Once you are done with the above mentioned steps then you may be called for an interview for the residency programs and as per your program preferences.
Once you are done with the interviews as well, you need to register yourself with the NRMP (National Residency Match Program) wherein a ‘rank order list’ will be released matched by an algorithm, depending on your program preferences and the residency program directors preferences for you, based on your interview to govern which residency program would be suitable for you. You will get a NRMP Id, once you are registered with a suitable residency match.
If you have not got an IMG residency match, then there is another option for you to apply for the remaining unfilled positions through SOAP (Supplemental Offer and Acceptance Program).
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