Because of globalization, professionals are taking the opportunity to land better jobs abroad. However, this may not translate much for foreign physicians, especially if it’s in the United States. As foreign medical graduates (FMGs), it will require taking an educational course to help them come up to par with U.S-based physicians in the healthcare sector.
But as of 2020, the need for IMGs/FMGs is crucial in providing quality care to Americans in the U.S. While a setback has been placed by the Trump administration against issuing J-1 visa for work in the United States, AMA has been able to persuade the administration to think otherwise. International medical students can now rest easy and focus on their studies rather than their immigration status, especially in the light of the pandemic.
The Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates (ECFMG) is the authorized entity that allows FMGs to further pursue their residency in the U.S. This is also an accredited entity by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education. One of the key things that FMGs should anticipate is the Observership program. It is designed to help them be more familiarized with American medical practice throughout their residency.
If you take this opportunity, you can increase your chances of landing your ideal residency program as an FMG/IMG.
Not every state is created equal. Some tend to be welcoming for certain programs for IMGs while others are not.
As a rule of thumb, most programs are looking for residents who are willing to stay long-term. Meaning, they prefer to have IMGs who will take residency and decide to stay as residents in that area even after their program is over. Assess the kind of lifestyle you want to have, schedules, and even traffic concerns. Find the programs and states that match these preferences. Think of it as something you’d see yourself living (and doing) for the next 5, 10, or 15 years.
This 2020 report from NRMP Main Residency Match shows the top 12 states ideal for residency for IMGs. As you may have noticed, Northeast states such as New York, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey tend to be more welcoming for IMGs. Before locking in your residency, it’s best to ask around for some input or do some further digging into the kind of residency programs these hospitals offer.
There are specialties that tend to be more challenging for IMGs than others. Looking into the supply and demand of physicians in that specialty is a good way to start. According to data released by the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC), a projected shortage of primary care physicians is anticipated by 2030. Another specialty IMGs may want to look into is Internal Medicine. As of 2019, there had been around 3,200 matches for internal medicine for IMGs.
Of course, it’s not always the case to look for specialties that are currently in demand. While this may help, evaluate whether this kind of specialty is something you’d like to pursue with excellences and passion in the long run.
Another way to help you land an IMG residency in the U.S is to look into the Matching data. As of 2020, the top 5 matches for non-U.S citizen students and IMG are Internal Medicine (categorical), Family Medicine, Pediatrics (categorical), Neurology (categorical, advanced, and physician positions), and Pathology.
You can look into these specialties by accessing resources from your school. Try connecting with the alumni program or take advantage of counseling to give you guidance on the kind of specialty that will fit you.
It’s never too early to gain and maintain relationships with fellow classmates, faculty members, and even researchers. There may be multiple opportunities for you to network during local or regional meetings in a specialty that you’re looking into. By doing this, you are widening your prospects of being introduced to program directors that could lead to your ideal specialty.
Foreign graduates aspiring to go to the U.S for residency should know the state-limitations mandated for IMGs. FREIDA
AMA Residency & Fellowship Database is one of those tools you can utilize to check residency programs that are accredited by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME). You can customize your search by filtering results based on specialty, program type, residency, fellowship, salary, and average hours of work per week. To further streamline your search, you can filter the results to J-1 Visa, H-1B Visa, and IMG acceptance.