Are Medical Degrees Internationally Recognised?

Understand all eligibility requirements before devoting efforts and financial resources to your application process as an International Medical Graduate (IMG). Learn about application deadlines and requirements before you apply.

Are Medical Degrees Internationally Recognised?

In general, the medical school from which you graduate is listed in the World Directory of Medical Schools (WDOM), accredited by the Foundation for the Advancement of International Medical Education and Research or the World Health Organization. Medical degrees vary significantly from country to country. In the United States, medical degrees are only available at the graduate level. Before applying to medical school, students must complete four years of undergraduate study in a science subject such as biology or chemistry, but it can be any subject.

The Commission issues a standard ECFMG certificate to International Medical Graduates (IMGs) who meet all ECFMG requirements. To receive this certification, IMGs must go through three steps. First, they must verify their eligibility in each of the United States states and to each program before applying for the USMLE. Failing to do so could result in a waste of time and money in states that limit training permits and licensing to fewer international medical schools than the full list in the World Directory of Medical Schools.

Once IMGs meet the eligibility requirements for the exam, they can apply for the required exams. IMGs are required to take and pass the same exam taken by United States citizens. Exams are offered throughout the year. In addition, International students and graduates must meet the eligibility requirements for ECFMG Pathways, a program that evaluates the clinical and communication skills required for ECFMG certification.

The sequence and timing of these requirements can be challenging, so it's important to review these requirements and begin the process before the third year of medical school. The Fellowship and Residency Electronic Interactive Database Access is an online directory of graduate medical education programs sponsored by the American Medical Association (AMA). The Council for Accreditation of Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) also offers a directory of residencies. The AAFP offers an online directory of family medicine residencies that has a search function beyond those of the other two.

For each medical specialty, there is specific information about individual programs and any general or special application requirements. Application deadlines may vary between programs, so it's important to contact programs directly for their deadlines. Since offers made and accepted during match week will be binding under the match participation agreement, only candidates who meet the requirements to start training on July 1 of the match year will be able to participate. The NRMP will exchange data with the ECFMG to re-certify the status of IMGs.

It's essential to learn about application deadlines and requirements before applying and direct your submission appropriately. Understand all eligibility requirements before devoting efforts and financial resources to your application process. It can be difficult for IMGs to obtain residency interviews in the United States due to increasing competition for a relatively fixed number of residency positions in this country. As a result, many residency programs have tightened their eligibility requirements.

Many residencies list their requirements for applicants on their websites, such as year graduated from medical school, types of visas accepted, or number of attempts allowed at USMLE exams. Research residency requirements before applying and direct your submission accordingly. Understand licensing requirements before devoting efforts and financial resources to your application process. The Federation of State Medical Boards (FSMB) releases specific state requirements for initial medical license.

In addition, some states have a list of recognized international medical schools that are eligible to obtain a license in that state. Some institutions will sponsor visa for IMGs in residency program while ECFMG is authorized by US State Department to sponsor foreign doctors for J-1 visa. Questions about obtaining visa should be directed to staff of residency program, US Embassy or consulate in your country of residence or in US itself. As with most medical training programs, including medical school, you'll need to take a standardized admission test administered by a third party.

The definition of an international medical graduate is a doctor who received a basic medical degree from a medical school located outside United States and Canada that is not accredited by US Liaison Committee on Medical Education (LCME). Requirements are set by Association of Medical Schools of United States (AAMC) while individual medical schools may also have additional requirements which can be found in most recent version of AAMC medical school admission requirements guide. In United Kingdom, graduates then enroll in two-year Fundamental Program during which they complete internships in variety of different health specializations before applying for training in medical specialties. Nearly all medical schools in United States require undergraduate degree from schools with medical education programs accredited by LCME while Australian institutions require medical undergraduate students to take Medical and Health Sciences Undergraduate Admission Examination (UMAT) or at graduate level MCAT or GAMSAT exams respectively.

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