- Where To Start
- Preparing for the USMLE
- The Match
- Interviews & ROL
- Match Week!
So, you want to become a licensed physician in the US? We can help!
We've helped students and physicians across the globe prep for their exams for more than 40 years.
It will take you at least three years to complete a US residency program. You will also have the exams to take beforehand. While it is a long, difficult journey, you are not alone. International Medical Graduates (IMGs) comprise 25% of the US physician workforce.*
First, you need to register with ECFMG®.
Before you take your exams, you must register with the ECFMG®. This makes sure that you are qualified to enter Graduate Medical Education (GME®), also known as residency. All eligible GME® programs are licensed by the ACGME® (Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education).
You can register with the ECFMG at www.ecfmg.org. You will register with them and receive an ECFMG identification number. You will then need to send them a Form 186, identification form signed by a Dean and Notary service.
Second, you need to take the United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE®).
What is the USMLE?
The USMLE is a series of four exams administered over three steps. This exam is mandatory in order to practice medicine in the US. Your performance on this exam also determines what residency program you will attend.
It is vital that you go into every USMLE exam prepared because once you take the exam you cannot take it again. The score you get the first time will be the score you are stuck with! That is why it is so important to get high scores the first time that you take the exams.
When should you take each Step?
You need to take Step 1, 2 CK, and 2 CS first to be ECFMG-certified so you can be matched with a residency program. There is no particular order in which you need to take the exams. You can take Step 3 before you apply for residency, but many take it during their first year.
Here is a breakdown of each Step:
Step 2 CK
Step 2 CS
You're done with the USMLE® Step 1, 2 CK, and 2 CS! Now what?
Once you complete Step 1, 2 CK and 2 CS you can be matched!
NOTE:The ECFMG requires that all three exams have been passed in a 7 year period. Scores older than 7 years are invalid.
Starting from around September 1st applicants can send completed applications to their selected programs. To be competitive, International Graduates should send their application at this time.
To apply for Residency you'll enter one of the Matching Programs:
- NRMP®: National Residency Matching Program
- San Francisco Match (Child Neurology, Neurology, Ophthalmology & Plastic Surgery)
- Urology Match
The most popular matching program and the most likely for International Graduates to apply to is the National Residency Matching Program or NRMP®. This service matches eligible medical school graduates with U.S. residency programs. you'll need to submit to match with . You'll need to submit to match through the Electronic Residency Application Service (ERAS®), which is administered by the American Association of Medical Colleges (AAMC®).
What you'll need for your submission:
- MyEras applications
- Letters of recommendation
- Medical School Performance Evaluations (MSPEs)
- Medical school transcripts
- USMLE® transcripts
- Personal statements to the directors connected with your specialities in the hospitals you've selected.
Most interviews will take place between October and November.
What are residency programs looking for?
The NRMP® Match process is extremely competitive, but not impossible. If you want to be a competitive applicant you need to prove you are qualified.
According to the 2014 NRMP® Program Directors Survey, there are five top factors program directors consider when selecting interview applicants.
1. A competitive USMLE® Step 1 score.
2. An excellent letter of recommendation from a U.S. physician in the speciality to which you're applying.
3. Your completed Medical Student Performance Evaluation (MSPE) and/or Dean's Letter .
4. A competitive USMLE® Step 2 CK score.
5. A strong personal statement- While your personal statement isn’t the #1 factor, it is still extremely important, so make sure to put the same amount of effort in to this part of the application.
Rank Order List
Where do you want to be?
Once the interview process is complete you will need to submit a Rank Order List, or ROL. This ranks the residency programs you'd like to train with as a physician. All goes well, you will be in this program for several years, so make sure you choose carefully. Program directors also submit their own ROL based on the applicants' interview, so make sure you leave a good impression!
You then wait until Match Week, when the NRMP® will post a list of all matched applicants.
You've made it to Match Week!
"Matching" takes place in March of every year. Applicants are "Matched" to programs based on rankings from both the applicant and program. The rank order lists are entered into a computer system and a complex algorithm assigns programs to applicants.
On the Monday of Match Week, you will get an email announcing whether you've been matched or not.
Those who match, congratulations! You'll be notified of the details about the program and hospital by Friday.
Those who don't match, you can only apply to unfilled Match-participating programs that you are qualified for.