Finalizing Your 2018 Medical Residency Application: A Checklist for Foreign Medical Graduates


It’s down to the wire — the final deadline for the 2018 ERAS application process is less than two weeks away. On September 6, 2017, foreign medical graduates can start applying to ACGME-accredited U.S. medical residency programs. A week later, on September 15, 2017, the programs start receiving applications. Two weeks after that, on October 1, your Medical Student Performance Evaluation (MSPE) will be released to the programs to which you applied.

As these deadlines draw nearer, you need to add all of your application components to your MyERAS account. That way, when medical residency programs receive your application, it will be complete and ready for the review process. Over the next two weeks, make sure that you have checked each of the following items off of your list of things to do:

  1. You have provided proof of ECFMG Certification.

All foreign medical graduates applying to U.S. medical residency programs must demonstrate proof of certification from the Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates (ECFMG). By now, 2018 ERAS applicants need to have already completed all of the requirements, but it is important to double check that there are no problems with your proof of certification. That way, you can avoid any glitches in the application process.

  1. You have updated your curriculum vitae (CV) and uploaded the final version to MyERAS.

The curriculum vitae is a constantly evolving document, so there is a good chance that you will need to add your most recent activities before uploading the final version in your MyERAS portal. Before you send off your application, you want to be sure that all of your relevant educational and work experiences — especially student electives and clinical externships in the United States — are highlighted on your CV.

  1. You have perfected your personal statement and uploaded the final version to MyERAS.

By this point, you are probably tired of poring over your personal statement. On the blog this summer, we have covered all of the steps of the writing process for the personal statement — from initial brainstorming to drafting to revising to final editing — and it can be a grueling process. But now that it’s over, you have a polished personal statement that can convince the application reader at your dream program that you are an excellent candidate. After reading over your personal statement one last time, upload it to your MyERAS account so it is ready for submission.

  1. You have ensured that your letter writers know what to do to submit your letters of reference.

Even though do not write your own letters of reference, it is your responsibility to ensure that your letter writers have them done on time and know what to do to submit them properly. If your letter writer has not yet submitted the letter, don’t be afraid to send them a polite email reminder. You can also offer to help with any questions or problems they might encounter. Physicians have a lot of responsibilities to keep track of, so your letter writers will likely appreciate anything you can do to streamline the process.

  1. Your Medical Student Performance Evaluation (MSPE) is complete.

This document is released to your chosen residency programs by the dean of your medical school on October 1, so you still have over a month until the deadline. If you have not yet met with the dean to discuss your performance over the course of your education, that should be a top priority. Also, if you went to a medical school where very few graduates apply to residency programs in the United States, you may want to send an email to the dean to check in, in order to make sure that they are aware of the upcoming deadline and are comfortable with the submission process.

  1. You have narrowed down your list of programs and know where you want to apply.

There are lots of great residency programs in the United States, so it can be a challenge for prospective residents to narrow down the options. Foreign medical graduates most commonly apply for residencies in family medicine, internal medicine, and pediatrics, but there are a wide range of other specialty areas that you might want to consider, including newly added specialty areas that are available for the first time this year. In addition to specialty area, you might also want to think about the region of the country in which you want to live, as well as whether you prefer a residency program in an urban setting or a rural setting. In these last few days, make sure that you are excited about every aspect of the residency programs to which you submit your application.

By spending this week meticulously ensuring that every part of your application is polished and perfect, you can maximize your chances of getting matched. After finalizing your application, the only thing left to do is wait for Match Day!


Whether you are applying for a U.S. medical residency program in 2018 or looking ahead to future application cycles, FMG Portal is here to help. Contact us today for more information!

ERAS Participating Specialties and Programs: The 2018 Additions


As a student of medicine, one of the first things you learn is that there is always more for you to learn. The field of medicine is constantly evolving. Every day, new scientific papers are published in medical journals, providing novel insights that have the potential to revolutionize the way medicine is practiced in a wide range of fields. During your undergraduate education and medical school, you were probably exposed to much of this cutting-edge research. Today, it is being put into practice.

Based on the latest trends in medicine, universities and medical centers all over the United States are creating residency and fellowship programs to train residents in new specialty areas. The application process for these programs is coordinated by the Electronic Residency Application Service (ERAS). Thus, the number of specialty areas and programs that are available through the ERAS application process increases each year. In 2018, new specialty areas were added for almost all program types and application cycles

Understanding the ERAS Application process

The Electronic Residency Application Service (ERAS) is the organization responsible for the coordination of medical residency and fellowship programs in the United States. Through the ERAS online portal, aspiring medical residents and fellows can prepare and submit applications to the programs of their dreams — including newly added programs that provide training in innovative specialty areas.

For prospective medical residents, there is one application cycle each year, which runs from June to September. The deadline for the 2018 ERA application process is September 6, 2017, so mark your calendar! For aspiring medical fellows, there are two application cycles each year. The deadline for the first cycle — which is the one used by the majority of fellowship programs in the United States — is in July. The deadline for the second application cycle is in December.

For the 2018 ERAS application process, new specialty areas were added for each application cycle. Read on to learn more about the exciting opportunities that are opening up within the field of medicine.

MD Residency – September Cycle

As a foreign medical graduate looking to apply for a residency program in the United States, you have 50 specialty areas to choose from. The three most common specialties for foreign medical graduates are family medicine, internal medicine, and pediatrics, but for the 2018 process, there are also two new specialty areas that you might be interested in:

  • Family Medicine / Osteopathic Neuromusculoskeletal Medicine
  • Osteopathic Neuromusculoskeletal Medicine

MD Fellowship – December Cycle

If you have already completed a U.S. medical residency program and want to specialize your training through a fellowship program, there are 18 specialty options available for the December cycle. Five of them are new this year, including several that might be of interest to foreign medical graduates who have completed residency programs in the popular specialty areas of pediatrics and internal medicine.

  • Advanced Heart Failure and Transplant Cardiology
  • Clinical Cardiac Electrophysiology
  • Gynecologic Oncology (Obstetrics and Gynecology)
  • Maternal – Fetal Medicine
  • Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility

MD Fellowship – July Cycle

Most aspiring medical fellows submit their applications to the ERAS during the July cycle, in which 46 specialty areas are offered. Although the July deadline has already passed, it can still be helpful to be aware of the newly added specialty areas, in case you plan to apply in the future. Most of this year’s additions are in the increasingly relevant field of clinical informatics. Several are ideally suited to foreign medical graduates who have completed residencies in one of the three most popular residency specialty areas:

  • Clinical Informatics (Family Medicine)
  • Clinical Informatics (Internal Medicine)
  • Clinical Informatics (Pediatrics)
  • Clinical Informatics (Pathology)
  • Clinical Informatics (Emergency Medicine)
  • Clinical Informatics (Anesthesiology)
  • Adult Congenital Heart Disease

Preparing for a Residency or Fellowship in a New Specialty Area

For aspiring medical residents, it can be a challenge to prepare for a residency in a newly created specialty area. But remember — all of the other applicants are in the same boat! If your academic interests lie in one of the new fields, make sure to provide a full explanation in your personal statement, which is the part of your application where you get to tell the application reader about your career goals. In addition, the physicians who write your letters of reference may also be able to speak to your interest in the subject.

Before you apply for a residency, you might also consider completing a graduate externship program that is related to the new specialty area that you are interested in. For instance, if you are considering applying for a residency in Family Medicine / Osteopathic Neuromusculoskeletal Medicine in the future, an externship in Family Medicine or Neurology could look great on your CV. Similarly, if you one day hope to do a fellowship in Advanced Heart Failure and Transplant Cardiology, a clinical externship in Cardiology, Interventional Cardiology, or Metabolic Cardiology could be a great experience.

Need more help with the residency application process? FMG Portal offers clinical externships and other resources that can help foreign medical graduates get matched. Contact us today for more information!


Finding a Place to Live in the United States: Information About Accommodations


If you are considering a student elective, clinical externship, or medical residency program in the United States, one of the most important things that you have to think about is living accommodations — that is, where you will live for the duration of the program. If you are entering a U.S. medical residency program, you will need long-term housing, since medical residencies in the United States can last anywhere from three to seven years. Alternatively, if you are completing a graduate externship program or a student elective, there are more short-term living accommodations available.

It is important to note that housing is different in the United States than it is in some of the other places around the world, so it can be helpful to get an idea of your options before you start looking for accommodations. Read on to learn more about long-term housing options for aspiring medical residents and short-term accommodations for medical students and graduates who are visiting the United States for a clinical externship or a student elective.

Long-Term Housing Options for Medical Residents

As a medical resident in the United States, there are a wide range of factors that can contribute to the type of housing you choose — including your financial circumstances, your family situation, the region of the country in which your residency is located, and whether or not your program is in a rural or an urban setting. Here are some of the types of housing that you might want to think about.


  • Apartment. An apartment is one of the most common housing choices for medical students and residents in the United States, especially in urban and suburban areas. If you want to live alone, you can often find a studio or one-bedroom apartment. Alternatively, many medical residents share a two- or three-bedroom apartment with roommates. This can be a great way to cut down on the cost of living during your residency, and it can also help you make social connections with other residents. In many cities in the United States, renting an apartment is the most common (and affordable) option. However, there are also some places where investing in your own apartment is a feasible option, so it is important to find out about housing prices in the area of your residency before you decide.
  • Shared house. In some locations in the United States, it is easier for prospective renters to find a shared house than a traditional apartment. In a shared house, you might rent one bedroom for yourself and share a kitchen, bathroom, and living room with other roommates. You might also be able to find a situation in which a house is split between floors, with one renter on the first floor and one renter on the second floor.
  • Single-family house. If you are bringing a family to the United States and you need more space, you could consider buying or renting a single-family house. Again, availability and affordability depend on the location of your residency and your criteria for living accommodations, but in some places, it might make sense to invest because medical residency programs last for so long. Still, it is important to note that, if you choose to buy instead of rent, you are responsible for the care and upkeep of your house, and you will need to balance find a balance between the time you spend caring for your house and your responsibilities as a medical resident.

Accommodation Options during Clinical Externships and Student Electives

Before applying for a medical residency program, many foreign medical students and graduates complete a clinical externship or a student elective in the United States. These programs typically last for either three months or six months, and they can be a great way to learn more about a specialty area of interest, bulk up your CV, and establish connections with physicians in the United States who might be able to write letters of recommendation when you apply for a U.S. medical residency program. Because clinical externships and student electives are shorter than residency programs, the options for living accommodations are different:


  • Subletting an Apartment. Many foreign medical students and graduates choose to sublet an apartment for three or six months. In the United States, it is typically easiest to find sublets available between June and August, when many university students are away from their apartments for the summer.
  • Short-term Apartment Rental. In some apartment buildings, landlords offer six-month leases, so if your clinical externship lasts for a full six months, this can be an affordable option. Alternatively, if you are completing a three-month student elective or clinical externship, you might find an apartment where you can choose month-to-month rental for three months.
  • House Sharing. House sharing options, like AirBnb, are becoming increasingly popular in the United States. Depending on the location of your student elective or clinical externship, you might be able to find a short-term rental in a fully-furnished home for an affordable price.

For foreign medical students and graduates who are interested in applying for U.S. medical residency programs, FMG Portal provides a wide range of resources. We offer three-month student electives for foreign medical students, as well as three- and six-month clinical externships for graduates. We can also help you with accommodations when you decide to participate in these programs. Contact us today for more information!

Choosing a Medical Residency: Regions of the United States


The United States is one of the largest and most diverse countries in the world. A few weeks ago, we talked about the differences between medical residency programs in urban and rural areas. However, it is important to note that even within the category of “urban” or “rural,” there are significant differences between different parts of the country. Within the geographic borders of the United States, you can find an example of almost every climate zone, and there are distinctive cultural differences between regions as well.

During your residency, the characteristics of the region in which you live can affect both your lifestyle and your work as a physician. This is especially true if you are pursuing a residency in one of the more general medical residency subjects — such as family medicine or pediatrics — since the types of cases you encounter can depend largely on the cultural circumstances of the region. Therefore, if you are a foreign medical graduate looking to get matched to a residency in the United States, it can be helpful to learn more about the different regions of the country so that you can apply to programs in places where you will feel comfortable living and where you will have the chance to work on cases that fit in with your medical interests and career goals.

The East Coast

The East Coast is one of the most densely populated areas of the country. As a result, you can find more medical residency programs in this region than any other, and you will find most of them in urban and suburban areas. The East Coast is home to some of the largest cities in the country, including New York City, Boston, Philadelphia, and Washington, DC — each of which has its own unique culture. However, they do share some general characteristics, such as highly diverse populations, good public transportation, and easy access to restaurants and grocery stores.

If you live on the East Coast, you can expect to experience four distinct seasons. Summers are hot, and winters can be very cold. In the northern areas, you might get a lot of snow in the winter, but further south, heavy rain is more common. Both spring and fall on the east coast are considered to be beautiful. In general, the culture on the East Coast tends to be more formal than in other areas of the country.

The Midwest

The Midwest, also known as the Great Plains, refers to the inland states between the east coast and the Rocky Mountains. Some of these states include Ohio, Iowa, Illinois, Michigan, and Minnesota. Although large portions of these states are rural, there are also a few major cities, such as Chicago and Detroit. Like the states on the east coast, you can expect cold winters and hot summers in the Midwest states. People in the Midwest are especially well-known for being friendly.

One of the most significant health issues that you will face if you work as a physician in the Midwest is the opioid abuse epidemic. The misuse of opioid medications (such as morphine, oxycodone and hydromorphone) is a growing problem in all parts of the United States, but it is especially concentrated in the Midwest. As a medical resident in the Midwest, you may treat overdose cases or individuals who are seeking treatment for addiction, so if you are interested in pharmacology, psychiatry, or any other drug-related area of medicine, a residency program in the Midwest may be of interest to you.

The South and Southwest

As in the Midwest, the South and Southwest regions are mostly rural, but with a few major cities, such as Atlanta (in the South) and Houston (in the Southwest). The climate in these states is much warmer and more humid in the summer, but Southerners also enjoy milder winters. The South is famous for its hospitality and its delicious comfort food.

Two medical issues that are more prominent in the South than in any other part of the country are obesity and smoking. Southern states like Mississippi, Louisiana, Alabama, Kentucky, and West Virginia have some of the highest numbers of people who meet the criteria for obesity and who say they smoke regularly. As a result, physicians are challenged to treat patients with many obesity-related medical conditions (such as type II diabetes and heart disease), as well as health problems caused by smoking (such as lung cancer).

The Mountain West and the West Coast

The Mountain West region includes the states that are between the Midwest and the West Coast. Some of the states in this region include Colorado, Utah, Idaho, and Montana. Because of the Rocky Mountains, much of this region is rural, although there are a few large cities, such as Denver. The Mountain West is known for its dry climate. In the winter, there is often snow, especially in the high country. In the summer, you can expect a daily temperature swing, with warm days and cool nights.

Outside of the East Coast, the West Coast is the most populous area of the country. Most people on the West Coast live in California, where the climate varies considerably. Southern California is warm and sunny, while Northern California is overcast and cool for most of the year.

The Mountain West and West Coast states are well-known for being among the healthiest in the United States, with low rates of smoking and obesity, and high rates of activity and exercise. However, the outdoor adventure opportunities in the states — like hiking, rock climbing, and skiing — can cause traumatic injuries. If you are interested in treating sports- and outdoors-related injuries — in either an emergency room or a rehabilitation setting — this region could be a great place to work. California is also particularly well-known for cutting-edge technological advances, so a residency in this area could be of interest if you are interested in medical technology research and development.

Choosing Between Regions of the United States

As an aspiring medical resident, it can be a challenge to figure out which region(s) of the country you would be comfortable living in. One way to experience life in the United States first hand is to complete a student elective or graduate externship before you apply. Not only can this give you a better idea of what it is like to live in a particular region of the United States, but it can also give your CV a boost and connect you with physicians who could possibly write letters of reference for your application.
FMG Portal offers student electives and graduate externships in a wide range of fields. Contact us today for more information!