Residency Specialty Spotlight: Family Medicine


One of the most popular residency specialty areas for foreign medical graduates is family medicine. According to data from the National Residency Match Program (NMRP), about 16.6% of foreign-trained physicians who were matched in the United States in 2015 had chosen family medicine as their specialty area. Although this figure is down slightly from 18.8% in 2011, family  medicine has long been a mainstay specialty area for foreign medical graduates, and there are lots of opportunities in the field. Based on data provided by the American Association of Family Medicine (AAFP), about one out of every five medical office visits in the United States is with a family doctor, accounting for a total of 192 million annual visits.

About Family Medicine

As a physician focusing on family medicine, you would have the chance to work with patients of all ages and provide care for lots of different kinds of illnesses and injuries. Family doctors provide care for infants, children, adolescents, adults, and seniors. Often, they provide ongoing care for families, so they have the chance to develop strong relationships with their patients, watching kids grow up and helping adults maintain their health as they get older. They provide regular checkups, help with the management of chronic illnesses, diagnose illness and injuries, and provide referrals to specialists, among many other possible tasks.

If you are planning to pursue a career in family medicine in the United States after you finish your residency, the best job outlook is in rural areas and urban areas that are currently underserved. As a family doctor in one of these settings, you would have the opportunity to provide essential medical services to patient populations that badly need the help, so a career in family medicine is a great option for foreign medical graduates who want to make a difference in the world.

Family Medicine Residency Programs

Family medicine residency programs in the United States last for three years. Over the course of the training, you would gain experience in six major medical subfields:

  • Pediatrics
  • Obstetrics and gynecology
  • Internal medicine
  • Psychiatry and neurology
  • Surgery
  • Community medicine

You might also gain experience in other areas that can be helpful in a career as a family doctor, including geriatrics, ophthalmology, radiology, emergency medicine, otolaryngology, and urology. With this broad experience, you will emerge from a residency program with the knowledge you need to provide the wide-ranging services required of family doctors.

Clinical Externships in Family Medicine

One way to get ready for a residency program in family medicine in the United States is to complete a clinical externship in the field. In one of these programs, you will have the opportunity to gain real-world experience in an American medical setting, working under the supervision of experience. Not only will you gain essential skills in the field, but you will also improve your application profile, and you may be able to get letters of recommendation from the physicians that you work with.

FMG Portal facilitates clinical externships in family medicine for foreign medical graduates, along with a wide range of other services. If you need help finding and getting matched to a family medicine residency program, contact us today!


Summer Plans for Clinical Experiences


It’s almost May, which could mean one of two things: If you live in the Northern Hemisphere, summer is right around the corner, and you can start looking forward to longer days and warmer temperatures. If you live in the Southern Hemisphere, you’re probably getting ready for the longer nights and cold weather of winter.

Foreign medical students may not have the chance to take time off for travel during the summer months, but if you’re looking for a change of scenery within the next few months — or if you want to skip winter in the Southern Hemisphere — you might want to think about enrolling in a three-month clinical experience in the United States.

Clinical Electives for Foreign Medical Students

If you are currently a full-time medical student at a foreign medical school, a three-month elective experience is a great way to gain valuable experience in a U.S. clinical environment, particularly if you plan to apply for a medical residency program in the United States in the future. The most common option is to choose a program in the medical subfield in which you eventually plan to pursue a residency. Within the program, you will spend one month each with three different attending physicians within that specialty area. At the end, you will have gained hands-on medical experience, a better understanding of the U.S. medical system, and the potential for three letters of recommendation when you apply for your residency.

If you have not yet chosen a specialty area of interest, that’s okay too! A clinical elective experience can actually be a great way for foreign medical students to explore their specialization options. Some three-month clinical elective experiences allow foreign medical students to spend one month each with three different attending physicians in three different subfields. That can help you decide whether you determine which one you want to dedicate your career to, and it can also give you a better idea of how each one works in the United States. That way, when you apply for a residency in the United States, you will know that you are making the best specialization decision for you.

Applying for a Clinical Elective Program

It is important to note that many clinical elective programs require you to apply at least four weeks in advance, so if you want to spend summer in the United States, there’s no time to lose! FMG Portal offers clinical electives for foreign medical students at locations throughout the United States in a wide range of specialty areas, whether you want to focus on just one or divide your time between three. Contact us today for more information!

Residency Specialty Spotlight: Internal Medicine


According to the most recent data from the National Resident Matching Program (NRMP), the most common residency specialty for foreign medical graduates is internal medicine. In 2015, 2,763 foreign medical graduates were matched to an internal medicine residency program. That’s 43.9 percent of the total number of foreign medical graduates who were matched.

What’s more, the proportion of foreign medical graduates who choose internal medicine has only been growing over the past few years. In 2011, only 37.5 percent of matched foreign medical graduates were in internal medicine residency programs, so the proportion jumped 6.4 percent in only four years. If you are thinking about applying for medical residencies in the United States, internal medicine is an excellent specialty option to consider.

About Internal Medicine Residency Programs

Internal medicine residency programs last for three years, and they provide broad training in diagnosing and treating diseases and disorders of all organ systems. These programs typically consist of a combination of clinical practice, classroom-based seminars, and research opportunities. In addition to getting hands-on training working with patients with a wide range of internal conditions, residents are also educated in relevant topics like preventive medicine, medical ethics, cost controls, and even providing medical education. If you engage in research during your residency, you will likely be encouraged to publish your work and/or present at conferences, where you can network with others who have similar interests in the field.

Upon completion of an internal medicine program, you would be eligible to take the certification exam offered by the American Board of Internal Medicine. At this point, you could go on to become a general internist, or you could choose to pursue a fellowship in a particular subfield of interest.

Preparing for an Internal Medicine Residency Program

As a graduate of a foreign medical school, one way to increase the likelihood that you will matched to an internal medical residency program is to complete a clinical externship in internal medicine or a subspecialty area within the field. Not only does this demonstrate your interest in internal medicine, but it also indicates that you have what it takes to be successful in the U.S. medical system.

If you choose a clinical externship in a particular subspecialty area, it can serve as a signal of your commitment when it comes time to apply for fellowships.Some of the specialties in which you may find a clinical externship include:

  • Allergy and Immunology
  • Cardiology (General, Interventional or Metabolic)
  • Gastroenterology
  • Hematology
  • Infectious Diseases
  • Nephrology
  • Oncology
  • Otolaryngology
  • Rheumatology

Overall, internal medicine can be a great residency option for foreign medical graduates. For help finding and getting matched to an internal medicine residency program, contact us today!

Eligibility Requirements for U.S. Medical Residency Programs: Information for Foreign Medical Graduates


It’s the start of spring, which means it’s right around the time that fourth-year medical students and and trained doctors start to think about whether or not it makes sense to apply for a residency program for next year. If you’re a foreign medical student or graduate, and you are contemplating applying for a residency in the United States in 2018, your first order of business is to make sure that you are eligible and that you have a competitive application profile. That way, if there are any requirements that you still need to meet, you have ample time to fulfill them before the match process really gets underway in the fall.

Basic Requirements for ECFMG Certification

In order to apply for a residency program in the United States, you need to be certified by the Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates (ECFMG), which is the organization that evaluates whether foreign medical graduates are sufficiently prepared for a U.S. medical residency program. The ECFMG sets forth some basic requirements that you need to meet before you can even consider applying for a residency

  • Educational Requirements. As a foreign medical graduate, you need to have completed your degree at one of the medical schools that has been approved by the ECFMG. You can find information about your school in the World Directory of Medical Schools. In addition, you will need to provide documentation of your degree and transcripts before you can complete the ECFMG certification process.
  • Examination Requirements. To get ECFMG certification, you will need to pass the first and second steps of the United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE). The first step tests your knowledge of medical science, while the second assesses your clinical skills.
  • ECFMG Application. Of course, in order to be certified, you need to actually submit the application form to the ECFMG. You can begin the process as a fourth-year medical student by applying for a USMLE/ECFMG identification number, and you can take the examinations as soon as you meet the training requirements, but it is important to note that you won’t officially receive your ECFMG certification until you have actually finished your degree.

Visa Requirements

If you are not already a citizen or legal resident of the United States, you will need to get a visa. The two visa options for foreign medical graduates in residency programs are the H1-B (Temporary Worker) and J-1 (Exchange Visitor) visas. After being accepted to a residency program, your visa may be sponsored by your institution or by the ECFMG, but the United States has specific visa regulations for certain countries, so you may want to consult the U.S. embassy in your country in order to find out about possible visa restrictions.

Residency Program Requirements

Many residency programs also have specific requirements for foreign medical graduates. Depending on the school, they can include:

  • Medical school graduation year
  • Type of visa
  • Number of attempts on the USMLE
  • Previous clinical experience in the United States
  • Letters of recommendation from U.S.-based providers

If you have concerns about any of these factors — for example, if graduated more than a few years ago — you may want to skim through the websites of some of the schools you are considering to make sure that your degree will still be considered valid.

If you don’t have previous clinical experience in the United States, now is a great time to set up a clinical externship or enroll in an elective program for foreign medical students, which can provide valuable hands-on training in the American medical system and allow you to build relationships with recommenders who can write letters of support for your application in the fall. Even if U.S. experience is not explicitly required for your top-choice residency program, these experiences can boost the competitiveness of your application and increase the likelihood that you will get matched.

Need more help with residency placement? Contact us today!

What To Do If You Didn’t Get Matched

Match Day has come and gone, and if  you are one of the fourth-year foreign medical students who was not matched, it can be hard to figure out what to do next, after working so hard during medical school and counting on a residency in the United States. But there is no reason to despair! You still have a variety of options for next year.

Participating  in the Post-Match Scramble

Even now, almost a month since Match Day, there are programs with open slots. You’re most likely to find a residency in family medicine, but other specializations are also available, especially if you’re willing to keep you options open in terms of location. By being flexible and reaching out to programs that are still looking for residents , you could find yourself starting your residency this July after all.

Preparing for Next Year

Another option for students who were not matched is to wait for next year’s match process. That can give you time to strengthen your application and increase the likelihood that you will be matched the second time around. Here are some things that you may want to do:

  • Complete a clinical externship. One way to increase your odds of getting matched next March is to complete a clinical externship. Not only does this provide excellent clinical experience and boost your resume, but you can also get letters of recommendation.
  • Take clinical electives. Like externships, electives are a great way for non-matched foreign medical students to get ready for next year’s match process. In these courses, you can get a better understanding of the American medical system and make connections that can help you strengthen your application for next year.
  • Seek additional education. Although additional clinical experience is usually the best way to show residency programs that you have what it takes when it comes time to get matched next year, you can also expand the breadth of your experience by completing a non-medical degree or certificate program. Many graduate programs are available in part-time and online formats, which can be helpful for aspiring physicians with multiple time commitments.
  • Get a research job. Research is an important part of many residency programs, whether at the basic science, translational or clinical level. You may be able to find full- or part-time medical research opportunities in labs at universities or in industry, which is another way to supplement the clinical experiences that you may want to pursue between now and next year’s match.

Overall, whether you decide to search for an open residency spot or focus on strengthening your application for next year, not getting matched is not the end of the world. If you take control of the situation and go after what you want, your medical career can still get off to a great start. 

Need help with residency placement? Contact us today!

Post-Match Day Advice: What To Do After Getting Matched

If you’re one of the thousands of fourth-year medical students who got matched on March 17, congratulations! After years of hard work, you finally have the chance to start working as a physician! But now that the initial excitement has worn off and you’ve celebrated properly, the start of your residency in July looms large, and there’s a lot to do in only a few months. Here are some tips to help you make sure that you will be relaxed and ready to go on the first day of your residency:

Image Credit: Flickr user Walt Stoneburner
Image Credit: Flickr user Walt Stoneburner


  • Shop around for housing.


After being matched, finding a place to live is probably one of the first things on your mind. It is important to learn about all of the housing possibilities: Do you plan to own or rent? Will you live alone or with roommates? Are looking for a place for just yourself, or do you have a family? How does a mortgage payment or rental fee fit into your budget? As you start formulating answers to these questions, you can start looking through real estate listings and Craigslist ads to find a living situation that best meets you needs.


  • Look into transportation options in your new city.


Some cities have great public transportation options, while in others, owning a car is a must. As you decide where in the city you want to live, it is essential to consider what forms of transportation are available, as well as associated costs, from daily bus fare to hospital staff parking fees.


  • Talk to current residents.


Current residents can be a great resource as you plan out your living situation in a new city. They can also provide more information about daily life as a first-year resident. Talking to them can give you a better idea of what to expect in your first year, so you can feel comfortable and well-prepared when you start.


  • Connect with your class.


Since all of the residents in your class are in the same boat when it comes to this next stage of your careers, it can be helpful to connect over email or social media. Not only will you get to know your future colleagues, but you can also find out where other residents are thinking about living, exchange ideas about transportation options, and share your excitement (and nervousness!) about getting started.


  • Keep track of moving expenses.


Remember, the money you spend on moving expenses in 2017 can be deducted from your taxes next April. That’s a whole year away, so in order to avoid having to rack your brain when you are filling out forms next year, it can be helpful to keep a spreadsheet of the money you spend on moving, such as moving trucks, apartment cleanings and travel expenses for housing search visits.


  • Take care of yourself.


After four tough, hectic and rewarding years of medical school, starting your residency is exciting, but preparation also can be stressful. Remember to take a breath and step away from the whirlwind of planning obligations when you start to get overwhelmed. Whether that means going on a walk, calling a friend, or catching up on your favorite TV show, it’s important to maintain balance in your life so that you will be healthy, confident, and centered when your residency starts in July.

Financial Costs of Applying for a U.S. Medical Residency

Foreign medical graduates (and U.S. allopathic seniors alike) should be aware of the various fees associated with applying for medical school. Many of these fees are less than $100, but they can add up over time. In this article, we outline some of the expenses associated with applying for U.S. medical residencies.

ECFMG Certification

In order to be considered for the NRMP match program, foreign medical graduates must receive ECFMG certification. One of the largest expenses associated with this program is the examination fees. The ECFMG breaks down the fees as follows:

  • $75: Application for Certification
  • $895: Step 1 Examination
  • $895: Step 2 CK
  • $1550: Step 2 CS

These costs are the basic ones associated with ECFMG certification. However, there are additional costs that foreign medical graduates may incur. There are fees associated with taking the Step 1 and Step 2 CK in a country other than the U.S. The Step 2 CS must occur in the U.S., so foreign medical graduates should be aware of the travel costs associated with taking the test.

Clinical Clerkships

Many U.S. medical residencies require applicants to complete U.S. clinical clerkships. These clerkships can range from 3 months to 6 months and can rotate the foreign medical graduate among various specialties. A 1995 study estimated that these kinds of clerkships cost between $1000 and $2100 USD. Costs are likely to have increased since the study was completed. Foreign medical graduates should also be aware of the costs of relocating temporarily for the clinical clerkship. Some U.S. cities, like New York City, have an expensive standard of living.

National Resident Matching Program (NRMP)

The NRMP is a program that matches U.S. medical residencies to medical graduates. Both the graduates and the residencies rank their preferences. Then an algorithm matches the graduates to the residencies. Participation in this program costs $75, according to the NRMP. There is an additional $50 late fee if the fee is paid after November 30.

Electronic Residency Application Service (ERAS)

ERAS is a U.S. service that transmits residency applications to program directors. Many medical residencies require that applications are submitted through ERAS. To apply for up to 10 medical residencies, ERAS costs $99. Additional applications are charged per application according to the following rates:

  • 11 – 20: $12 each
  • 21 – 30: $16 each
  • 31 or more: $26 each

The costs of applying for a U.S. medical residency can quickly add up. Although the examinations and relocation/travel expenses are probably the largest costs to incur, other registration fees add up to hundreds of dollars. Knowing the costs ahead of time can help foreign medical graduates prepare for a successful U.S. medical residency application.

Preparing for a U.S. Medical Residency Interview

Although many U.S. allopathic seniors have a chance to complete mock interviews at their medical schools, some foreign medical graduates may not be fully prepared for the interview process. Completing all the required medical exams and meeting the basic requirements for acceptance is an important first step. However, it does not guarantee admission. Candidates must also impress the interviewer. In this article, we’ll outline how foreign medical graduates can prepare themselves for a successful interview.

Review your own background

Interviewers often ask questions about a graduate’s past experiences. While many graduates can talk confidently about past experiences, reviewing them prior to the interview can be helpful. Perhaps you had forgotten about that volunteer experience you completed three years ago. Reviewing your background can bring more memories to the surface. Then you will be prepared when the interviewer asks a question about your experience.

Research your chosen specialty

At a U.S. medical residency, you will be interviewing for a particular specialty. Having extensive knowledge of this specialty is likely to impress the interviewer. To prepare, keep up to date on the latest developments in your selected specialty. You can subscribe to journals on the specialty or even just set up a Google Alert to send you notifications of new developments. Interviewers may ask your opinion on major issues facing the specialty and this research will help you provide a valuable response.

Research your chosen program

Interviewers will likely ask why you chose the specific school program. Knowledge about the program will help you develop a good answer. For example, the program may be ranked highly. This is a somewhat generic answer, however, and greater specificity will reveal how much you researched the program. A more specific answer would be because you want to work with a specific doctor who is an expert in a procedure that you would like to learn. The second answer, which demonstrates how much research you did, is more likely to impress an interviewer.

Matching with a U.S. medical residency requires more than a stellar resume and high scores on the ECFMG examinations. While the resume and exam scores will get you in the door, you will also have to impress the interviewers. Being knowledgeable about your own experience, your chosen specialty and the interviewing program itself is likely to impress interviewers. When it comes time for the medical residency to rank possible candidates for the match, you want them to rank you toward the top.