FMG Portal: Assisting FMGs to become U.S. Medical Residents

Becoming a physician in the United States as a Foreign Medical Graduate (FMG) requires some hands-on medical experience within the states. That is why FMG Portal has dedicated its services to helping FMGs through every step of becoming a practicing physician in the U.S. We do this by offering connections to clinical externships, clinical electives, clinical clerkships, clinical rotations and clinical observerships. We also offer assistance with CVs and Visas, so there is no kink in your pathway to a U.S. Residency.


Getting U.S. experience is the impetus behind most of FMG Portal’s services, and it does this by connecting you with programs that provide differing levels of experience. Many of the services, such as clerkships vs rotations are the same if not similar, but knowing specifically what they are will help the FMG to understand what they are seeking.

Clinical Externships

Externships are only available to medical graduates, and they do not qualify for medical school credit. They give FMGs the hands-on experience that will be required by many residences in which applicants apply. Some externships cover specific specialties, which can be very beneficial during the Match process if you are looking to join a certain medical specialty.

Some of the other skills that may be learned in an externship are how to write SOAP notes, participate in diagnosis teams and learn how to use an electronic health record (EHR). While FMGs may have already learned adequate diagnosing skills during their medical training abroad, hands-on experience within the U.S. allows them to learn any nuances that could hinder the medical process by being performed in a manner inconsistent with U.S. healthcare system norms.

Clinical Electives

For foreign medical students, clinical electives are a good opportunity to get hands-on training, and FMG Portal has connections with multiple teaching hospitals. This allows the student to get to work closely with attending physicians in a U.S. healthcare setting.

Foreign medical students who have clinical elective experience in the U.S., especially in their desired specialty, have a much better chance of getting a residency match. Not only does it show experience in the U.S. healthcare field, but it also allows for the opportunity to get U.S. letters of recommendation.

Clinical Clerkships

Clerkships and electives are terms that may be used interchangeably, as they are very similar. In some curricula, they are compulsory. However, U.S.-based clinical clerkships offer a unique opportunity for foreign medical students to participate in healthcare delivery with experienced physicians. This will not only aid the student in passing their USMLE tests, but it will also give the opportunity for cultural adjustment. Cultural adjustment may not seem like a huge component of U.S. healthcare experience, but it greatly aids in communication, which can enhance an interview.

Clinical Rotations

Rotations are very similar to clerkships, and again, the names can be used interchangeably. The word rotation is significant in U.S. rotations because it implies that a student rotates through different specialties in their final year of medical school while supervised by a physician in order to obtain a well-rounded medical education.

Clinical Observerships

Observerships are established when an FMG gets to observe a specialty by participating in a 2-4 week program. This is meant to allow the FMG to get an idea of how the American culture of healthcare works, and it allows the FMG to establish connections along with witnessing firsthand how the medical care is provided in the particular specialty.

Other Services


Immigration laws are constantly changing with the current administration, and this can make applying for visas difficult and confusing. That is why FMG offers assistance in this endeavor, so you can focus on the more important matter of your education and residency placement.


Having a thorough CV is essential to residency placement, but it can be difficult to pare down a full resume to fit the needs of a certain specialty. Our experts can take out the unnecessary details in order to highlight the parts of you that will make you appeal to your residency program director.

ERAS Application

The ERAS application is obviously one of the most important parts of the Match, and filling it out properly could mean the difference between consideration and simple rejection. FMG Portal’s staff can help you fill it out properly, so you don’t miss your change based off of a minor issue.

If you are a Foreign Medical Graduate or a Foreign Medical student looking for resources to get Matched and become a successful physician in the U.S., FMG Portal has the skills, resources, and the connection you have tohave to get you there. As an FMG, you must prove the quality of your education through ECFMG certification, CVs and applications that show that you are the type of resident a program would want to have educated under them.

Don’t travel the FMG road to medical practice in the U.S. alone. Get help where you need it with FMG Portal.

2018 Trends for non-U.S. IMGs in the Match

When you are ranking programs for the Match, it is best to go with your heart. That is, try to join a specialty that you are passionate about. It will help you to be successful and lessen your chances of burning out. However, you may be passionate about more than one program. This is understandable, and that it why it is helpful to pay attention to statistics and what other non-U.S. international medical graduates (non-U.S. IMGs) have done to get Matched.

Rank Order List

Ranking programs for the Match should be based on passion, but it should also be smart. For example, the NRMP’s 2018 Match report indicates that longer rank order lists tend to produce a larger percentage of Matches. For non-U.S. IMGs, it may be difficult to find a long list of programs that are likely to accept you for one reason or another. You may feel like some programs are a long shot or that it is a waste of time to rank them. Get this thought out of your head. If there is a chance, and you wish to enter the program, get it on your list. Once you have to start paying extra to add to your rank order list (20 unique programs before extra fees on primary rank order list), you might be more selective. But if your list is short, add those long shots!

USMLE Scores

There are many factors that determine whether or not any medical graduate is considered for a residency program during the Match, and one of those factors is USMLE scores. High USMLE scores are obviously a positive element of your overall application, but lower scores do not eliminate your possibilities of a Match.

In USMLE Step 1, non-U.S. IMGs who Matched had higher scores than those who did not in most specialties. However, this was not true in the orthopaedic surgery and plastic surgery specialties. In step 2, the same was true except in OB-Gyn, orthopaedic surgery, plastic surgery and vascular surgery (see NRMP’s 2018 Match report).

Other Factors

Other factors that may determine whether or not a non-U.S. IMG is chosen for a residency program during the Match are work experiences, research experience, publications, volunteer experiences and Ph.D. or graduate degree.

In competitive programs such as dermatology and neurological surgery, non-U.S. IMGs that Matched had more research experience than those who did not Match. Publications had varied success for all IMGs, but it is worth noting that non-U.S. IMGs had 6.2 publications on average compared to 2.9 for U.S. IMGs. Similarly to publications, there was no clear trend of successful Matches based on work experience. Volunteer experiences were higher among Matched IMGs among both U.S. and non-U.S. IMGs. Having a Ph.D. was a factor for the Match for non-U.S. IMGs, but graduate degrees were often reported more among the non-Matched.

What Does this Mean?

Clearly, the results of the 2018 Match report are varied, and the take home message is that everything matters, but none of the factors will eliminate you from consideration as a non-U.S. IMG. This is why other recommendations are as important as these trends in order to be successful during the Match.

What are Other Recommendations?

Despite the ECFMG certification process, some residency program directors may be uncomfortable with foreign education. This may be due to some deeply held bias (which is unfortunate), but it is more likely that program directors are not able to decipher exactly how you were educated abroad. There are different standards across the world, and your education may be more extensive than U.S. medical schools, but program directors need to know that it was at least as good as U.S. medical school.

Study Match trends to increase your odds of success.

That is why U.S. experience (observership programs) and recommendations are crucial for the Match. Residency program directors want to know that you can work in the U.S. healthcare environment. They want to hear it from you, and they want to hear it from American peers who can testify to your abilities.

It is also very important to do well in your interview, and this may be the most important part of the Match process. Your language ability, your confidence, and your personality will need to fit the program. You may have excellent scores and a full CV, but if you lack any passion or interest, it is unlikely that you will be chosen. Making yourself interesting may include talking about hobbies outside of medicine instead of the residency program. Be prepared to talk about yourself as a normal person, not only a residency candidate.

Yes! It is stressful to consider everything that matters when applying to residency programs. The number of non-U.S. IMGs entering the Match is declining, but the numbers being Matched is at a high point compared to the last couple of decades. The reduction of non-U.S. IMGs may be due to Visa issues or rumored difficulty getting Matched, but the numbers show that if non-U.S. IMGs are ranking residency programs, they are increasingly finding residency programs.