Requirements and Importance of ECFMG Certification for International Medical Grduates (IMGs)

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Medical practitioners from other countries who wanted to have an unrestricted license for medical practice at the United States are required to obtain a certification from the Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates (ECFMG). Medical graduates outside the United States after being accredited by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) will be assessed to determine that they are ready for fellowship program or residency in the United States. Obtaining ECFMG certification licenses them to practice medicine or enter residency.

This certification program is playing a crucial role to guarantee that minimum standards in patient’s care and medical field are met. From 1986 to 2005, statistics show that 57.2% have successfully obtain their license from almost 267,000 foreign medical graduates who took the examination, which is the first step in securing a certification from the ECFMG.

The following are requirements in order to secure an ECFMG certification:

  • Examination Requirements

Before taking the examination, medical graduates are required to submit an application with the following questions to be confirmed:

  1. Identity
  2. Contact information
  3. Enrollment in or graduated from a medical institution included in the listing of International Medical Education Directory (IMED) of the Foundation for Advancement of International Medical Education and Research (FAIMER).

Certain legal claims may also be required as part of the application process along with the confirmation from the applicants regarding their understanding of the purpose in securing the certification from ECFMG.

Moreover, the applicants must satisfy the following to meet the requirements for certification:

  1. Medical Science Examination Requirement – to satisfy this requirement the steps 1 and 2 of the Clinical Knowledge (CK) of USMLE are administered.
  2. Clinical Skills Requirement – to satisfy this requirement, step 2 of the Clinical Skills (CS) of USMLE is administered.
  • Evaluation of English Language Proficiency
  • Medical Education Credentials Requirements

The International Medical Education Directory (IMED) provides the complete listing of the international student’s medical school/institution and the year graduated. A medical student should have earned or awarded of at least four credit years from a medical school listed in the IMED. A medical institution can only be added in the list of IMED after FAIMER has received the confirmation from the Ministry of Health. As soon as new information has been received by FAIMER from officials of medical school or appropriate government agency, the IMED listing is then updated. IMED is accessible through the ECFMG website.

Over the years, there have been various changes in the certification process. The changes in the requirements are designed to respond with the increasing needs of medical graduates in the United States, improve the certification program, adapt with the changing climate in immigration as well as achieving a common pathway for medical graduates license.

Every year for decades now, thousands of applicants apply to secure ECFMG certification. From among this number, almost one-half have been successful in obtaining certification after meeting the examination and medical education credential requirements. This certification ensures the competency of international medical graduates in handling and responding various conditions in the medical field.