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!

Understanding the Requirements for ECFMG Certification


As a foreign medical graduate, the most significant difference between your residency application process and that of an American student is the requirement for certification by the Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates (ECFMG). This organization was founded in 1956 with the goal of ensuring that foreign medical students who enter ACGME-accredited programs in the United States are sufficiently prepared for the rigors of a U.S. residency. There are three requirements that foreign medical graduates need to meet in order to become certified by the ECFMG: application, education and examination.


The first step of the ECFMG certification process is filling out an application. Any foreign medical student or graduate can apply, as long as you have earned (or are in the process of earning) a medical degree from a school that is listed in the World Directory of Medical Schools. To start the process, you will need to go the ECFMG website and request an identification number. From there, you can log in and start filling out the application.

Educational Requirements

The most important thing you need to do to show the ECFMG that you are ready for a U.S. medical residency is — of course — to earn your medical degree! You need to have completed at least four years of medical study at one of the medical schools that is listed in the World Directory of Medical Schools, and you need to provide documentation that you have completed all of the necessary credits for graduation. It is important to note that you can apply for ECFMG certification while you are still finishing your degree, but you will not be awarded a certificate until you have received your medical diploma and submitted your final transcripts.

Examination Requirements

After you have applied for ECFMG certification, you can apply to take the required exams. For ECFMG certification, you need to pass step 1 and step 2 of the United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE). The Step 1 test covers the fundamentals of medical science — that is, the information that is typically covered during the first two years of medical school in the United States. The Step 2 tests examine your clinical knowledge and clinical skills, which you can build during medical school and by completing student electives and graduate externships in the United States. Once you pass these exams, you will not only have met the requirements for ECFMG certification, but you will also be eligible to take Step 3 of the USMLE.

It is important to note that some states have additional requirements that foreign medical graduates are required to meet in order to enter a residency program in that state, which can be found at the website of the Federal State Medical Boards. These additional stipulations include specific medical school training requirements, a maximum number of attempts on the licensing examinations, and completing the licensing exams within certain time limits. If you have your eye on a particular residency program, or you know you want to work in a particular city, make sure to find out about these requirements.
The long process of preparing for and applying to residency programs in the United States can be complicated and challenging, but FMG Portal offers valuable resources to help you get matched. Contact us today for more information!

Tips for Foreign Medical Residency Applicants: Plan Ahead


In less than a month, the medical residency application process for 2018 is going to get underway. If you are a foreign medical student or medical school graduate planning to apply for a residency program in the United States in 2018, one of the best things you can do right now is to get a jump start on the process by familiarizing yourself with the application timeline and the basic application requirements. That way, you can create an application preparation plan that makes the most of all the time you have this summer, so you won’t be left scrambling to get everything together at the last minute.

The 2018 ERAS Timeline for Medical Residencies

The Electronic Residency Application Service (ERAS) has released the official dates for the 2018 medical residency application process. ERAS 2018 officially begins on June 6, 2017, when you will be able to log on to MyERAS and start working on your application. You have all summer to get your application ready, and you can start sending it out to residency programs on September 6, 2017. A week later, on September 15, 2017, they will start receiving your application. On October 1, 2017, your Medical Student Performance Evaluation (MSPE) will be released to the schools as well.

Understanding the Components of the Application

As you get ready to start the medical residency application process, it is important to know what materials you will be expected to submit. Here is a brief overview of the application components for foreign medical residency applicants. Stay tuned to the blog for more in-depth discussions of each component this summer!

  • ECFMG Certification. Before you can apply for a residency program in the United States, you will need to have earned your ECFMG certification. For this, you will need to meet basic medical education requirements, submit an application, and pass a medical science and a clinical examination.
  • Curriculum Vitae (CV). On the CV, you have the chance to highlight your educational achievements, professional experience, personal interests, and other activities.
  • Letters of Reference. Most residency programs require the submission of three letters of reference. As a foreign medical graduate, it is important to note that some residency programs will require you to have at least one letter from a physician who is based in the United States.
  • Personal Statement. In your personal statement, you have the chance to tell your story — who you are, why you want to be a physician, and why you are an excellent candidate for a residency program in the United States.
  • Medical Student Performance Evaluation (MSPE). This document will be released to your chosen residency programs by the dean of your medical school on October 1. Before then, you will need to meet with the dean to discuss your performance over the course of your education.

Looking ahead to a summer of application preparation can seem overwhelming, but there’s no need to start getting stressed out just yet! You still have lots of time to start blocking out your summer and coming up with a plan to contact letter potential letter-writers, meet with your school’s dean, and draft (and re-draft!) the essential components of your application. Now that you have an idea of what to expect this summer, you can be sure to stay on top of all the requirements throughout the 2018 medical residency application process!
Need more information about residency placement? FMG Portal offers a wide range of valuable resources. Contact us today!

Residency Specialty Spotlight: Anesthesiology



Pain management is a hot topic in the field of health care right now. If you are interested in dedicating your career to the safe and effective use of pharmacological therapy for patients during and after surgical procedures, you might want to consider pursuing a residency in anesthesiology.

About Anesthesiology

As an anesthesiologist,  you would be responsible for the administration of anesthetics to patients during surgery. Before a procedure, you would develop a plan for general or regional anesthesia, accounting for a wide range of factors related to the patient’s current condition, medical history, and the nature of the procedure. During the surgery itself, you would be responsible for the administration of the anesthetic drugs, and afterward, you would remain on-call in order to assist with any complications that might arise. In addition, you would play a role in the development of post-surgery pain management strategies.

To be a successful anesthesiologist, you need to be a great team player. In the operating room, you will be working in conjunction with surgeons, surgical assistants, nurses, and technicians. In the pre- and post-operative rooms, you will share the duties of patient monitoring with nurses and nurse anesthetists. When planning a post-operative plan for pain medication, you will probably communicate closely with the patient’s regular doctor. Therefore, if you thrive in collaborative settings, anesthesiology could be the specialty area for you.

Anesthesiology Residency Programs

Anesthesiology programs in the United States last for three years. The first year is typically dedicated to learning the basics of the field through a combination of lectures, grand rounds, and clinical experience. Topics of study include intubation, line placement, and strategic planning for anesthetic administration and reversal. In the second year, you will do rotations that provide hands-on training in critical care and expose you to the subspecialty areas within the field, which include:

  • Obstetrical anesthesia
  • Cardiovascular anesthesia
  • Thoracic anesthesia
  • Neuroanesthesia
  • Ambulatory anesthesia
  • Regional anesthesia
  • Transplant anesthesia
  • Post-anesthesia pain management

The work you do in your third year of an anesthesiology residency can depend on the program and your interests within the field. If you know you want to pursue a clinical career, you will have the chance to hone your clinical skills by working with more challenging and complex cases. Alternatively, if you are interested in conducting cutting-edge pain medicine research, some programs give you the chance to conduct highly specialized research in order to advance medical knowledge in the field.

Clinical Externships in Anesthesiology

If you are a foreign medical student or medical school graduate looking to get an anesthesiology residency in the United States, a clinical externship can be a great way to gain experience and increase your likelihood of getting matched. In a clinical externship program, you would gain experience working under the supervision of multiple physicians, giving you the chance to learn about various subspecialties or even find out what it is like to balance a clinical job with pain-related research. That way, when you prepare your residency application, you can present a clear vision for your future career, and you may also be able to supplement your application with letters of recommendation from attending physicians.
If you are a foreign medical graduate and want to learn more about clinical externships in anesthesiology, or get general assistance with the overall residency application process, FMG Portal offers great resources. Contact us today to take the next step toward a future career as an anesthesiologist!

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!


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.