New to ECFMG Certification?

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Then you probably have a lot of questions. Here are a few answers to get you started.

What is the purpose of ECFMG Certification?

ECFMG Certification is the standard for evaluating the qualifications of IMGs entering the U.S. health care system. It is a requirement for IMGs to:

  • enter residency or fellowship programs that are accredited by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME),
  • take Step 3 of the three-step United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE), and
  • obtain an unrestricted license to practice medicine in the United States.

What is an IMG?

ECFMG defines an international medical graduate (IMG) as a physician who received his/her basic medical degree or qualification from a medical school located outside the United States and Canada. The location of your medical school, not your citizenship, is what determines whether you are 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.

What are the requirements for ECFMG Certification?

The requirements for ECFMG Certification include:

  • completion of the Application for ECFMG Certification;
  • passing performance on USMLE Step 1, Step 2 Clinical Knowledge, and Step 2 Clinical Skills; and
  • primary-source verification of your medical education credentials.

How do I begin the certification process?

The certification process begins when you request a USMLE/ECFMG Identification Number, which you can do through ECFMG’s Interactive Web Applications (IWA) by clicking on the link to establish an account.

ECFMG’s Interactive Web Applications (IWA) Unavailable September 6-7

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Due to required maintenance, ECFMG’s Interactive Web Applications (IWA) will be unavailable for up to 24 hours, beginning at approximately 6:00 p.m., Eastern Time in the United States, on September 6, 2016.

During this maintenance period, you will be unable to perform any IWA transactions, including working on or submitting an Application for ECFMG Certification or USMLE exam application; accessing a USMLE scheduling permit; or requesting an extension of a USMLE Step 1 or Step 2 CK eligibility period.

Source: ECFMG

Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria Joins ECFMG’s EPIC

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ECFMG is pleased to announce that the Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria has incorporated ECFMG’s Electronic Portfolio of International Credentials (EPICSM) into its process for assessing the medical credentials of internationally educated physicians who apply for registration to practice medicine in Nigeria, or who plan to take the Council’s Assessment Examination. The Council now requires these applicants to have their medical credentials primary-source verified through EPIC before submitting their applications. ECFMG is proud to partner with the Council to add primary-source verification—a best practice and the best protection against fraudulent credentials—to the Council’s tools for evaluating the qualifications of its physician applicants.

Read the full press release.

MyECFMG Mobile App Update Offers New Features for ERAS Applicants

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ECFMG is pleased to announce that an update is now available for the MyECFMG mobile app. This update offers new features for users who wish to participate in the Electronic Residency Application Service (ERAS®). The first feature enables an applicant to purchase a 2017 ERAS residency Token. The second enables a repeat applicant to select available letters of recommendation (LORs) from last year’s ERAS application for reuse with his/her ERAS 2017 application. To learn more about ERAS Tokens and LORs, please visit ERAS Support Services for Applicants.

For more information on login requirements for the MyECFMG mobile app, what you can do with the app, and a link to download it for free to your iPhone or Android phone, visit

If you’re using MyECFMG, please use the app’s Feedback function to let us know what you think of it! We welcome your input to help us improve MyECFMG.

Source: ECFMG

Top Five Countries of Medical School, ECFMG Certificants 1989-2013

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Top 5

Top five countries based on aggregate data over a 25-year period.
Source: ECFMG database. Data current as of January 17, 2014.

Top Five Countries of Medical School, ECFMG Certificants 1989-2013

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ECFMG certificants

Top five countries based on aggregate data over a 25-year period.
Source: ECFMG database. Data current as of January 17, 2014.

Standard ECFMG Certificates Issued in 2013: Distribution of Recipients by Country of Medical School and by Country of Citizenship

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Standard ECFMG Certificates Issued in 2013

Distribution of Recipients by Country of Medical School and by Country of Citizenship

Country Country of Medical School Country of Citizenship
  No. % No. %
Antigua and Barbuda 356 3.7 1 <0.1
Aruba 50 0.5 0 0.0
Australia 94 1.0 45 0.5
Bangladesh 48 0.5 51 0.5
Brazil 63 0.7 66 0.7
Canada 0 0.0 831 8.6
Cayman Islands 129 1.3 0 0.0
China 210 2.2 185 1.9
Colombia 85 0.9 81 0.8
Cuba 67 0.7 61 0.6
Dominica 819 8.5 1 <0.1
Dominican Republic 122 1.3 52 0.5
Egypt 202 2.1 188 2.0
Germany 88 0.9 84 0.9
Grenada 891 9.3 5 0.1
Hungary 70 0.7 10 0.1
India 1,278 13.3 1,369 14.2
Iran 167 1.7 175 1.8
Iraq 83 0.9 100 1.0
Ireland 181 1.9 74 0.8
Israel 211 2.2 138 1.4
Japan 70 0.7 68 0.7
Jordan 110 1.1 110 1.1
Lebanon 123 1.3 111 1.2
Mexico 181 1.9 84 0.9
Myanmar 69 0.7 72 0.7
Nepal 94 1.0 99 1.0
Nigeria 152 1.6 215 2.2
Pakistan 568 5.9 529 5.5
Peru 55 0.6 59 0.6
Philippines 136 1.4 97 1.0
Poland 143 1.5 17 0.2
Russia 94 1.0 56 0.6
Saba 156 1.6 0 0.0
Saint Kitts and Nevis 336 3.5 2 <0.1
Saudi Arabia 120 1.2 119 1.2
Singapore 59 0.6 46 0.5
Sint Maarten 367 3.8 0 0.0
South Korea 63 0.7 71 0.7
Syria 96 1.0 111 1.2
Ukraine 50 0.5 31 0.3
United Kingdom 106 1.1 93 1.0
United States 0 0.0 2,963 30.8
Venezuela 59 0.6 60 0.6
Countries with fewer than 50 recipients 1,201 12.5 1,092 11.3
Total 9,622 100.0 9,622 100.0

Citizenship is as of the time of entrance into medical school. Percentages may not equal 100% due to rounding.
Source: ECFMG database. Data current as of January 17, 2014.

Helpful Tips in Finding Observership Opportunities in the US

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For foreign medical students or graduates, the word observership is already a familiar term. This is a clinical experience which all of them, local or international graduates, should undertake. This shadowing experience does not allow direct patient care or interaction. They are only allowed to observe or watch preceptor physicians on various procedures in the medical profession.

Finding observership opportunities in the US nowadays is becoming more competitive as thousands and thousands of International Medical Graduates (IMGs) are applying for residency spots every year. Though your success hinges on a great transcript and high USMLE scores as well as higher scores during interviews, most of the programs are still giving a considerable weight on the applicant’s clinical experience.

Given the stiff competition in taking a spot in medical observership, what is your chance of getting one? Before you get out in the wider space to venture and explore, consider the following tips below that might be of great help during your hunting:

Connect with Contacts

Approaching your friends or relatives to inquire regarding observership opportunity is not a bad thing to do. Your contact may have ideas or information about this opportunity or maybe an access to physicians who are working in hospitals that offer observership program. They can introduce you to their friends whom later can recommend you for an available observership program.

 Helpful Tips in Finding Observerships Opportunities in the USTake Email as an Effective Means

If you are someone who doesn’t know any contact, finding an observership slot in the US may require a lot of hard work. One way of to assist your job much easier is through sending emails. Create a list of email addresses of persons who are in-charge of observership program in a hospital from where you are interested to. Send as many emails as you can manage expressing your interest on their offered observership program. From out of a hundred tries, taking back a reply of at least 5 or 10 wouldn’t be that bad anymore. Out from those replies, you might be lucky enough to get one positive opportunity.

Making Phone calls

One way of taking chances is through making phone calls to all possible medical institutions. Inquire the person in-charged whether they allow the shadowing of their physicians. Remember to have patience and politely make phone calls as many as you can. Out of 100 or more, it is possible that you can receive back a positive response.

Personally Set a Meeting

You can visit a few hospitals and try to set a schedule with the department head. This way, you can personally talk with the persons in-charged and express your intention and request for shadowing their physicians to gain more experience.

It takes effort and perseverance to take a slot for medical observership in the US. Opportunity will never come to those who doesn’t move their muscles. The more you take chances, the higher your opportunities are. Once you have entered one observership program, better chances of having more observership opportunities will open up for you.

ECFMG Fee Increase

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ecfmg fee increase

Effective January 1, 2016, fees for some ECFMG services will increase. The fees that will increase include:

  • The examination fees for USMLE Step 1 and Step 2 Clinical Knowledge (CK) will increase from $865 to $880 for each exam registration.
  • The examination fee for Step 2 Clinical Skills (CS) will increase from $1,505 to $1,535 for each exam registration.
  • The fee for rescheduling a Step 2 CS testing appointment will increase from $0-$1,250 (depending on date of cancellation) to $0-$1,275 (depending on date of cancellation).

The new fees will be assessed for all applications/requests submitted to ECFMG on or after January 1, 2016 (Eastern Time in the United States).

For more information on the fees associated with applying for ECFMG Certification and for USMLE Step 1, Step 2 CK, and Step 2 CS, refer to the ECFMG 2016 Information Booklet and the Fees page of the ECFMG website.


How does a medical student get an observership in the USA?

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Enewletter-header-imageAs you know that process of getting a residency spot in USA is becoming competitive for IMGs. In this situation, “United States Clinical Experience” is very important to distinguish your application between other applicants. So, start hunting to participate in right observership program. Getting right   observership is even more complicated than getting a residency spot. Regarding hunting, to be honest, emailing medical professors or other research scientists will not work. Most of them don’t open any irrelevant emails that would be linked to a research volunteering. However, following mentioned tips will help you to approach a right observership program.

  • The best way to approach a medical expert or school for sponsorship is through someone you know. He can be your friend, relative, or a doctor who did an observership over there. He/she can introduce you to the faculty of the medical school.
  • But if you don’t have any contacts in America then do some efforts own your own. Search for contact details of every hospital where you are interested to get experience. Email the PC/PD/Attending expressing for the program. You will get reply soon.
  • The best way is to meet the researchers personally. Take your well written CV along with attractive cover letter with you. Before going to meet any person, you should spend some time to know his current and previous researches, and areas of interest so that can covey him easily.
  • Now if you prove unlucky in getting response then it is time to make some calls. Contact with the administration of your interested hospital and tell them that your want to become observer. I am sure they will give you a schedule appointment.

Remember, to avail maximum chances to participate in observership, you have to submit your request earlier. I suggested that the months from March to June are best for the hinting of observership. Internet search is the best way to approach to a right program.