Residency Specialty Spotlight: Internal Medicine


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

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

About Internal Medicine Residency Programs

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

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

Preparing for an Internal Medicine Residency Program

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

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

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

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