All You Need to Know About Medical Residency in The U.S.

All You Need to Know About Medical Residency in The U.S.

Many international medical students aspire to go to the United States to study medicine and become a medical doctor. However, it is not as easy as it sounds. The U.S. requires medical students to undergo an extensive training program.

To prevent undergoing two residency programs, which could take as many as 10 years, you can opt for one residency in the United States. This can be a challenging process for international students, as the slots are limited and getting financial aid is also difficult. In this article, we will try to provide all the information you will need to apply for medical residency in the United States.

Why Complete Your Medical Residency in The U.S.?

Here are some of the reasons that students apply for a residency program in the United States:

  • High quality of training in a learning-friendly environment
  • Access to state-of-the-art technology
  • Better career prospects post-training
  • Offers a flexible career structure
  • Certifications are recognized all over the world

There are endless factors that attract international students to the United States. It is important to start your program research well in advance to complete the application process on time.

Who Is Eligible for a Residency in The U.S.?

Any student who has attended a non-United States and non-Canada medical college is considered as an International Medical Graduate (IMG). This includes permanent U.S. and Canadian residents. IMGs can be eligible for U.S. medical residency under some circumstances.

All IMGs are required to qualify for the Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates certification. This certification requires students to pass a series of examinations called the United States Medical Licensing Examinations. Also, students must have attended a college approved by the ECFMG. The ECFMG body determines the readiness of international students to attend U.S. medical residency.

Students can start to apply for ECFMG identification numbers when they begin their fourth year of medical college. The examinations can be taken as soon as the requirement is met. However, it is important to note that you will not get your ECFMG certification until the degree is finished.

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What Are the Residency Program Requirements for International Medical Graduates?

1. General requirements:

  • Educational: You must have completed your degree at one of the colleges approved by the ECFMG. In addition to this, you would need to provide proof of your degree and transcripts to complete your ECFMG certification process.
  • Examination: To obtain the ECFMG certification, you must have passed the USMLE. There are two steps of USMLE. The first step tests your knowledge of medical sciences, and the second step tests your clinical skills.

2. Visa requirements:

There are two visa options available to international students seeking a medical degree in the U.S. You can either apply for an H1-B visa (temporary worker) or a J-1 visa (exchange student). Once you are accepted in one of the medical residencies, then your institute or ECFMG might sponsor your visa.

However, the U.S. has different visa requirements for some countries. It is good to get in touch with the U.S. embassy before you start the application process.

3. Residency program requirements:

Many residency programs have specific requirements. Some of the points that the institutes consider are:

  • Medical school graduation year
  • Number of USMLE attempts
  • Letter of reference from U.S.-based providers
  • Previous medical experience in the United States

It is better to go through the admission requirement of your preferred college on their website. You can also get in touch with the admissions department. This will help you to understand if your degree/application would or would not be accepted by the program.

To attain some medical experience in the United States, you can apply for an elective program. This will help you get hands-on experience in the American Medical System. Not only will you gain some work experience, but you will also build some professional relationships.

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How to Choose a Residency Program in The U.S.?

A residency program has four tracks – transitional, categorical, preliminary, and primary care. When you choose a program, make sure that it suits your requirements. Here are the descriptions of all four tracks:

  1. Transitional program:

A transitional program rotates first-year students through hospitals every two to three months. This program might not provide enough credits to move to the second year of training.

  1. Categorical programs:

A categorical program is a traditional three-year program. It might allow the students to train up to the board eligibility.

  1. Preliminary programs:

These are one-year programs to attain specialization. Preliminary programs are good for students looking for internal medicine training.

  1. Primary Care programs:

If you are going to be working as a generalist, then a primary care program would be the best choice. This program trains students in ambulatory care services.

If you are unsure of which program to choose, you can check the AMA residency and fellowship database. It contains information on around 11,000 residency programs available across the United States.

What Is the Application Process for a Residency Program?

Here are steps that an IMG would have to go through to apply to a residency program in the U.S.:

  1. Register with the ECFMG

This is the most important step to begin the ERAS (Electronic Residency Application Process) in the United States.

  1. Pass the USMLE

You will have to pass the two United States Medical Licensing Examinations. These exams will test your clinical knowledge.

  1. Get valuable medical experience in the United States

Many colleges in the U.S. want their students to have a valid medical work experience. Now is the time to apply for internships.

  1. Choose your residency program

Register with the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) that runs ERAS. You will have to apply to the programs through the MyERAS portal. As you have gained some experience, and have taken the USMLE, you will now be able to choose the apt residency program.

  1. Register with the ERAS

Obtain your ECFMG token and register with the ERAS. You will require the unique token number to register on the MyERAS app.

  1. The medical residency interview process

After you submit your ERAS application, you might be asked to appear for the interview for the residency programs.

  1. Register with the NRMP

The NRMP matches IMG applicants to the fellowships and residency programs. The residency match program matches the candidates using the rank order list. After you have attended the interview, you will have to rank the programs according to your preference.

  1. Residency post-match

This step concludes your application process. If you got a residency post-match, that it is great. But if not, you will have to compete for the residency program’s remaining unfilled positions.

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