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.

Writing an Excellent CV as a Foreign Medical Graduate

When you are looking for a residency program as a Foreign Medical Graduate, there are many items that must be covered. Visas, letters of recommendation and ECFMG certification are only a view of the requirements to get started on the path to residency. Possibly one of the most important items residency program directors will look at is your CV.

What is a CV?

CV stands for curriculum vitae, which is Latin for “course of life.” That is an important thing to remember because it is what makes a CV different from a resume. It is not just a list of skills and experiences, and it is a much more detailed account of your accomplishments. It is comprehensive, and it can include all or any aspects of your professional life.

It does not need to include pre-college information, and in many cases, the oldest information you will find on a CV is from graduate or undergraduate education. If there are any time gaps once beginning undergraduate school, they should be accounted for.

Because of the detail required for an effective CV, it is recommended that students begin compiling the information for their CV during the first year of medical school. This document will follow you for the rest of your professional career, and it will be used time and time again for credentialing once the FMG is practicing medicine.

How long is a CV?

While a resume should only be one or two pages, a CV can extend to a much longer length. This is because every relevant accomplishment is included, and every time gap explained.

With that said, a CV should not be too long. CVs should be organized an only include relevant information. Time gaps should not be over-explained, and everything should be succinct. A CV should be jam-packed with information, but wordiness or unnecessary items will fill it with too much fluff, and residency directors will not be impressed.

What should be in my CV?

A CV is not a place for examination scores, as directors will have that from your application. Instead, a CV is a place for educational, leadership, and research experience.

You don’t’ have to use complete sentences in a CV, as it is not a narrative account of your professional life. Instead, short comments with no “fluff” help to keep it organized and remove some of the length from the document.

Employment experience, awards or recognitions, and publications should be included in your CV. What you have to ask yourself is, would my program director want to know this about me? If the answer is yes, then find a way to include it.

There is no set way to write a CV, which makes research necessary to make sure you are covering everything in a manner that is standard but at the same time stands out. There is a TON of information online, and talking to other medical providers or mentors is also a good place to start getting information about what to include.

Lastly, what to include is not standardized but rather dependent on the position you are applying for. For instance, if you are applying for a pediatric residency, volunteer work at an elementary school may be more relevant than that same volunteer work used in a surgical residency.

What are the sections of a CV?

As previously stated, every CV is different, but there are a few things you should expect to include:

  • Personal Data: contact information
  • Education: current first with expected graduation date, then reverse chronological order
  • Honors/Awards: anything that will gain the attention of directors including community awards
  • Professional Memberships: include years and any positions held
  • Employment: only since medical school, include position and dates
  • Extracurricular Events/Activities: volunteer work, second languages, special talents
  • Publications: title, place and date…include things currently being published as “forthcoming”
  • Professional Interests: (Personal Interests too!): this section is to make sure your character is represented on your CV, and sometimes things don’t fit in any other category. Don’t be afraid to add personal interests if it is relevant.
  • References: For FMGs, local letters or recommendation are essential to proving you know how the local healthcare system works. Don’t disregard quality letters from your home country or other places abroad, but make sure to include letters from the residency’s country as well.

How do I use my CV in the Match?

ERAS will create a CV for you during the Match application process, but this information should come from your own, personal CV. A “master copy” of your CV should include all information that may be relevant for any professional application, and information can be removed for specific purposes where some information becomes irrelevant.

A well-written CV is essential for residencies and for a professional medical career. If you have not started one or are unsure about yours, get help ASAP. There are many resources available to help you write a stellar CV that will make you a shoo-in for a residency program.

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!


Polishing Your Personal Statement: The Editing Process


If you’re participating in the ERAS process, you’re probably spending part of your summer working on your personal statement, which is a key component of your application for a U.S. medical residency program. Over the course of the last few posts, we’ve been going over the major steps of the process: from the early stages of brainstorming, to the first draft, to the later revisions of your personal statement, there are lots of important things to keep in mind so that you can create a personal statement that will impress the application readers at your desired residency program. Once you are happy with the general content and overall organization of your personal statement, it is finally time to move on to the last step of the writing process — editing and polishing.

Steps within the Editing Process

When you submit your personal statement to a medical residency program, it is essential for the document to be free from errors in spelling, grammar, and punctuation. Even if you are telling a great story that shows your application reader exactly why you are an excellent candidate for their residency program, your reader can be easily turned off by a minor mistake. Mistakes can suggest sloppiness or a lack of true interest in the program — and you don’t want your reader to think either of those things! In order to ensure that the personal statement you submit is error-free, here are some key steps to take:

  • Run the spelling and grammar check in your word processing program. These tools are NOT comprehensive, so you should NOT rely solely on them to edit your paper…but they are still valuable tools that are readily available. You might as well use them.
  • Read the paper out loud. You might recognize this tip from the post about the revision process, but it can also help you as you edit your paper. When you read your personal statement out loud, it’s easier to catch minor wording errors, such as using “a” instead of “an,” because they just don’t sound right when you hear them. Reading your paper out loud can also help with the identification of grammatically incorrect sentence structures.
  • Print your paper out. Again, this tip applies to both the revision process and the editing process. Often, when you see the words directly on paper, errors in spelling and grammar are more likely to jump out at you.
  • Ask multiple friends to read your personal statement. At this point, you’ve been staring at your personal statement for days, weeks, or even months. People who have never read it before are much less likely to overlook spelling mistakes and grammatical errors. Also, it’s a good idea to get multiple perspectives on your personal statement. Sometimes, a sentence structure that makes sense to one person is confusing for another, so it can be helpful to have more than one person weigh in.
  • Ask an expert in American English to help you edit. If English is not your first language, it may be a good idea to have a native speaker look over your personal statement. Ideally, this person should be most familiar with American English, since you’re applying for a U.S. medical residency program. An American English expert might be able to detect subtle in grammar or diction that detract from the overall message of your paper, and they can help you tweak it so that it reads smoothly for an American application reader.

What To Watch Out For When Editing Your Personal Statement

When you edit your personal statement, or when you have a friend edit the document, it can be helpful to think about exactly what you are looking for before you start. That way, you’re more likely to notice the errors that exist in your personal statement. Here are a few of the things you should keep in mind:

  • Spelling. Misspelled words look bad in your personal statement. If you come across a word and you’re not sure of the correct spelling, consult a dictionary.
  • Punctuation. Does every sentence end with a period? Are the commas in the right places? If you used quotes or parentheses, did you make sure to close them? Are colons and semicolons used appropriately?
  • Grammar. Look for common mistakes, like errors in subject-verb agreement and the use of singular and plural nouns.
  • Capitalization. Make sure that names and other proper nouns are capitalized. All other nouns should not be capitalized.
  • Presentation. Although you may not be able to control the font size and style of your personal statement when you enter it into the ERAS system, make sure that the overall layout of the personal statement is visually appealing. Rather than having one long block of text, it should be divided into cohesive paragraphs that look good on the page.

By carefully editing your personal statement for problems in each of these areas, you can be sure to make the best possible impression on your residency application reader. As a result, you will maximize your odds of being accepted into your desired program!

For foreign medical graduates, landing a U.S. medical residency can be a challenge, but FMG Portal is here to help. Contact us today to find out more about the resources we offer!


Revising Your Personal Statement for a U.S. Medical Residency


If you are planning to apply for a U.S. medical residency in 2018, you’re probably already in the process of working on your personal statement. After successfully brainstorming and planning out your personal statement, you may have written your first, second, or even third draft by now. Once you feel like you have a solid draft in hand, you can move on to the next phase of the writing process: revising your personal statement.

Revising Your Personal Statement

Revising your personal statement means going back and reconsidering its overall content, organization, and flow. When you’re ready to revise your personal statement, take a look at our previous posts on what to do and what not to do when writing your personal statement. After ensuring that your personal statement meets those general guidelines, here are a few more things you can do to make the revision process as productive as possible.


  • Give it a day to rest. After you finish a draft of your personal statement, it can help to step away from the paper for a little while. Many writers get so wrapped up in writing that they start to miss obvious problems with organization and sentence fluency. Often, when you come back to your paper, the problems will immediately jump out at you, so they are far easier to fix. Plus, with so much of the summer remaining to work on your personal statement, you can afford to take your time!
  • Have a close friend or family member read it over. When you’re revising your personal statement, your main focus is on the overall content (not the grammar or punctuation — editing comes later), so it is best to have someone who knows you well read it over for the first time. Even your best friend isn’t a grammar whiz, they can tell you whether your voice and your story truly shine through, because those are the things that will stand out to your residency application reader!
  • Print it out. Many students no longer write anything by hand, but when you print out your personal statement, it can be easier to see how the changes you make fit into the paper as a whole. Also, when you cross things out on paper, they don’t get deleted on your computer — so you can add them back in later. If you do decide to revise your paper only on your computer, make sure that you save separate versions of each draft so that you can always recover the parts that you took out if you need to.
  • Read it out loud. Reading your personal statement out loud can help you quickly identify problems with flow. Your eyes might skim over a confusing sentence as you silently read over the document, but when you read it out loud, you have to consider every word and how they fit together. Also, reading your statement out loud can make you realize if you are starting every sentence the same way, which is a sign that you need to vary your sentence structure.
  • Imagine you are the application reader. Read over your personal statement as if you had never met yourself before. What questions would you have? Is there anything that does not make sense? Again, before performing this exercise, it can be helpful to step away from your personal statement for at least a few hours.
  • Have someone who is familiar with the U.S. medical residency application process read it. Whether it is an adviser at your medical school, an attending physician who was trained in the United States, or a friend who has already been matched to a U.S. medical residency program, it often helps to get advice from someone who has a general understanding of what application readers are looking for.
  • Seek advice from your letter writers. When you ask for letters of reference, some attending physicians ask for a draft of your personal statement. You should make sure that you hand them a copy that has already gone through multiple revisions (and has undergone enough editing that it is free of major errors in spelling and grammar) — but you can also ask them for any advice that they have on it. They may be able to help you tweak the content so that it does a better job of highlighting your character or emphasizing the quality of your clinical experience in your desired specialty area.
  • Keep revising. Even if you feel like the first draft of your statement is well done, remember that revision is more than a one-hour, one-day, or even one-week process. Leave ample time to create multiple drafts, try out different organizational structures, and add or remove content. That way, the content of your personal statement will be well-established when it comes time to move on to the next step in the writing process — editing. Stay tuned to the blog for advice on editing in a future post!

If you’re a foreign medical graduate and you’re thinking about applying for a U.S. medical residency, FMG offers lots of resources that can help you get matched. Contact us today for more information!

Drafting a Personal Statement for a Medical Residency Program


Earlier on the blog, we discussed the importance of brainstorming and planning out your personal statement. If you’re going to apply to a U.S. medical residency program in the fall, now is a great time to start writing your statement. From the first draft to the final copy, your personal statement will likely go through lots of revisions, so it is best to get started as soon as you can.

To recap the personal statement planning post, the content of your personal statement should highlight key aspects of your CV, explain why you have chosen your particular medical specialty area, outline your career goals, and demonstrate the personal qualities that make you a great candidate for a U.S. medical residency program. However, putting that down on paper in a convincing way can be a major challenge. Here are some tips to consider as you work on your draft:


  • Tell a story. Often, you can capture your reader’s attention by opening with a personal story or detailing a particularly meaningful experience that shaped your medical interests and career goals. Your personal statement can discuss experiences as recent as medical school courses and graduate externships, or it can reach as far back as your childhood — as long as your story is genuine and relevant to your decision to pursue a medical residency.


  • Think about your audience. The person reading your personal statement will also be reading hundreds of other applications, so you want to let your own voice shine through. That way, you can stand out from the rest. At the same time, you have to remember that the reader might not be familiar with some of the things you take for granted. Especially as a foreign medical graduate, you should make sure to explain anything that might be confusing — like differences in school systems — in order to clarify for your reader.


  • Pay attention to flow. On a similar note, you should make sure to organize your paper in a way that makes it easy for your reader to follow. You might organize it chronologically, or you could choose a cause-and-effect structure in which you show how various experiences directed you toward your goal of a U.S. medical residency. It all depends on the story you are trying to tell, but no matter what, your writing should flow easily from one idea to the next.


  • Keep it succinct. Many U.S. medical residency programs do not set out a word limit for your personal statement, but it’s usually best to keep it to 700 words or less. Remember that all of your academic and work experiences are already on your CV, so you only need to pick out the most important ones to talk about in your personal statement. That way, you can emphasize the most powerful information and avoid boring your reader.

Even if your first draft doesn’t come out perfectly, don’t worry! You still have lots of time to re-draft, revise, and edit until you have a personal statement that can truly impress the U.S. medical residency program of your dreams!

If you need help with the residency placement process, FMG Portal is here to help. Contact us today for more information!

Asking for Letters of Reference for a U.S. Medical Residency Program


Last week on the blog, we talked about who you might want to ask for letters of reference for a U.S. medical residency program. With the start of the ERAS application process less than a week away, you probably want to start asking some of the people on your list. If you are a foreign medical graduate planning to apply for a residency this summer, here are some tips to follow when asking for a letter of reference:

  • Ask early. This is probably most important thing you can do when asking for a letter of reference. That way, your writer has ample time to write you an outstanding letter. Even though the letter is not due until September, you have to remember that the attending physician may be approached by multiple students for a letter, and they may also have work and family obligations to fulfill over the summer. By asking early, you can ensure that your letter finds a place on the physician’s “to do” list for the next few months.
  • Phrase your request wisely. When asking for a letter of reference, you should do so in a way that ensures that the writer will be able to provide the kind of letter you want — a positive reference that speaks to your clinical skills, academic knowledge, and personal attributes. Therefore, you might want to use a phrase like, “Would you be able to write a strong letter of support for my residency application?”
  • Don’t take rejection personally. If you get turned down by a potential letter-writer, don’t be discouraged! As long as you have asked early, there’s still lots of time to find someone else who can provide an excellent reference. Plus, if the writer did not feel comfortable providing you with a positive letter of support, you would not have wanted them to contribute to your application anyway!
  • Asking over email is okay, but offer an in-person meeting or long-distance call. Unless you see the attending physician on a regular basis, it’s usually okay to send your reference request by email. However, sending a form letter can seem impersonal, so you may want to comment on how much you enjoyed working with them and include a mention of something unique about your experience. Also, you should follow up the request by indicating your willingness to meet in person to discuss the letter further. Of course, if you are a foreign medical graduate requesting a letter from an attending physician in the United States who you worked with during an externship or student elective, an in-person meeting may not be possible. Instead, you can suggest a telephone call or a video chat.
  • Be ready to offer additional information. Although you should not send your CV or transcripts with your initial letter of request, you should be ready to provide your letter-writer with information about yourself and the residency programs to which you are applying. They may also ask for a list of things you want them to highlight in the letter. Again, by asking for a letter well in advance, you can ensure that you have time to put together any additional materials they request.



Applying for and landing a U.S. medical residency can be a long and challenging process, but FMG Portal can help you get into the medical residency program of your dreams! Contact us today for more information!

Developing and Updating Your CV: A Guide for Foreign Medical Students


The words “curriculum vitae” are Latin for “course of life,” and that translation certainly rings true for medical students. Over the course of your medical career, you will need to constantly update your CV as your professional career evolves. That way, you will always have it ready to go when you need it.

The Basics of the Curriculum Vitae (CV)

When you enter your first year of medical school, your CV will replace your undergraduate resume. You should start compiling it right away, since it can be helpful as you apply for grants and special programs while you are a medical student. The first version of your CV will contain a lot of the same elements as your undergraduate resume, but on the CV, you have the chance to go into more detail about your educational and professional experiences. You will also build on the CV as you gain experience as a medical student. Here are some things to include on your CV:

  • All previous education, starting with your undergraduate degree and including school information and GPA. If you had your secondary school information on your undergraduate resume, it should not be included on your medical school CV. If you earned a graduate degree before starting medical school, make sure to include it as well.
  • Any work experience that you have had since starting your undergraduate degree. In particular, if you took time off to work between undergraduate and medical school, make sure to account for the time gaps in your education.
  • Any volunteer experience that you have had since starting your undergraduate degree. This can include volunteer work that you did while you were in undergraduate or medical school, as well as time spent away from school to volunteer full-time.
  • Supplementary educational opportunities, like student electives in the United States or outside lab research, can add depth to your CV.
  • Academic honors and awards, whether they are school-wide, regional, or national.
  • Extracurricular activities, like sports, student organizations, and religious groups.

Formatting and Updating Your CV

When you start working on your CV as a first-year medical student, you should choose a format that is well-organized and flexible, since you’ll constantly be adding to it and altering it for the remainder of your professional life. Also, note that when you add activities, awards, and experiences, they should be listed in reverse chronological order.

Stylistically, there are no set standards for the CV, but you’ll want to make sure that your CV is visually appealing and easy for any reader to follow. There are lots of examples online, and your school might also provide some examples from previous students. You can draw different elements from the examples you find to develop a unique format that works well for you.

Going through medical school, many students get caught up in the whirlwind of academics and clinicals, not to mention family and social life. You might end up forgetting to update your CV or continually putting it off until you need it for an application, at which point the amount of information that needs to be added can be overwhelming. A good idea is to add a monthly note to your calendar, planner, or phone organizer, reminding you to set aside an hour or so to add information to your CV. That way, when it comes time to apply for your residency, you will have a clean, comprehensive CV, all ready for submission to your programs of interest.

If you’re a foreign medical student thinking about applying to residency programs in the United States after you finish, FMG Portal offers a variety of programs to help you get matched, including student electives, which look great on your CV. Contact us today for more information!  

Planning Out Your Personal Statement: The First Step of the Writing Process

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As the start date for the 2018 ERAS application process draws near — mark your calendar for June 6! — it is important to start thinking about the application components you will need to start putting together. Earlier on the blog, we talked about starting the ECFMG certification process, which is essential for foreign medical graduates who want to get matched to residency programs in the United States. Another critical aspect of your residency application is the personal statement.

The personal statement is the most open-ended part of your residency application. In this document, you have the chance to tell your story — to show the application reader who you really are. Your personal statement is the place where your character and your commitment to your career as a physician can truly shine through. With so much freedom, you have a great opportunity to catch your reader’s attention, but you can also risk your chances of getting matched if you fail to highlight the qualities that make you a great residency candidate. Therefore, it is essential that you start the writing process early. That way, come September, you will have a polished final product to submit to programs.

Brainstorming Content for Your Personal Statement

There’s a lot on the line when it comes to the personal statement, so before you get down to writing, you need to spend a significant amount of time on the first step of the writing process: brainstorming. There are no page limits on your personal statement, but you can only hold your reader’s attention for so long, so you will need to be discerning about what to include. Here are some questions and ideas that you might want to start thinking about as you plan out what you want to say:

  • Which aspects of your CV warrant further explanation? Did you complete a student elective or clinical externship in the United States? Figure out which experiences have truly shaped your personal character and career goals.
  • What draws you to the medical specialty you have chosen? Do you have particular personal attributes that make you an ideal candidate for a family medicine or an anesthesiology program?
  • What are your long-term career goals? Do you hope to continue working in the United States, return to your home country, or pursue a position in an entirely different nation?
  • Do you have any unique personal interests that make you stand out as a candidate? Maybe you ran a marathon during medical school, despite having to get up before dawn to do the training. Maybe you have traveled extensively and been exposed to a wide variety of cultures. Think about ways to show how these experiences will make you an excellent medical resident.

With lots of time left before your ERAS application is due at the end of the summer, you can spend time in May and June ruminating about what you want to include in your personal statement. Don’t be afraid to let your mind wander! You can think about it while you’re doing laundry, cooking, driving, or brushing your teeth — just remember to jot down notes! That way, when you get down to drafting later in the summer, you’ll have everything you need at your fingertips.

Need more help with the residency matching process? FMG Portal offers lots of great resources for foreign medical students and graduates. Contact us today for more information!