I am ECFMG Certified

The following is a guest post.  It’s a contribution article from a graduated Saint James School of Medicine student.

ECFMG CertificateWell the time has come, I am ECFMG certified. Thank you Almighty for such a great success. It’s such a relief and I can’t believe it’s done. It was a long journey and accomplishing it is a great feeling. Of course the journey is not over yet; now I have to work on getting into residency but I’ll put that worry to the side and enjoy this moment and just reminisce on all the work that was put into it.

The process of getting the ECFMG certificate is a very simple process and SJSM did a great job in helping me get it. They were very supportive in getting my papers done fast and getting my credentials verified so the certificate would arrive at my house.

The certificate came in via FedEx and it was inside a hard paper cover. As you can see from he screenshot above that it looks nice and clean.

ECFMG CertificateThe certificate was placed under a plastic over. I displayed my certificate but I blurred out and blacked out my key information because I don’t want my information out there on the web.  As you can see this is it; this is what we were striving for the past couple of years. In order to get this certificate you have to pass the USMLE Step 1, USMLE Step 2 CK, USMLE Step 2 CS. The certificate displays the dates of the exams you passed, which is displayed on the bottom left corner.  It also has the date the certificate was issued on the bottom right corner.

All in all, I’ll tell you, if I can do it then you can too. It requires persistence in times of difficulty and confidence from the beginning to the end.

So what does it mean now?
What it means now is that I finally get to have DR before my name and MD after my name.  Also, I am now eligible to take the USMLE Step 3, which also depends on the State of residence.

How to Get Your ECFMG Certificate

The following is a guest post.  If you want your article published on this blog please email your article.

The process of getting the ECFMG certificate can be a bit confusing and there is no clear instructions to get it unless you call the organization up for instructions, and I did just that.

ECFMG Certificate

What is the ECFMG?
It’s the Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates, and it’s the body that oversees the validation for international medical graduates for residency.

What is the ECFMG Certificate?
It’s just a document that says you have fulfilled the criteria by the ECFMG and you are clear to start residency and you can take the USMLE Step 3.  Keep in mind, you need the permission of the State, that you reside in to take the USMLE Step 3; however, the criteria for each state varies.

Also, getting the certificate actually boosts your opportunity to get into residency.  Therefore, the faster you get the certificate, the better.

What is the process to get the certificate?

  1. First you have to register for the ECFMG.  When you register to take the USMLE tests, and you are an IMG, then you are already registered for ECFMG.
  2. Pass USMLE Step 1, Step 2 CK, Step 2 CS.
  3. Graduate from your medical school.
  4. Get your diploma and make two photo copies of it.
  5. Get two passport size color photos; they have to be within the latest 6 months.
  6. Get two copies of form 345-I (as of January 2015), and tape or glue your photo to the form.  The form has a certain place where you will have to put your picture on.
  7. Mail it by FedEx or UPS to:

    3624 Market Street, 4th Floor
    Philadelphia, PA 19104-2685

  8. Wait till ECFMG gets your paper.  And then have your school verify your credentials if they use ECFMG portal.
  9. ECFMG will mail your certificate.

Research Before Applying to Residency Programs

Let’s face it, if you are an IMG you will have challenges and it you should recognize that there will be tremendous amount of obstacles before you land on a residency spot.  The biggest obstacle will be where to get a residency. What I noticed is that some students will apply blindly to numerous residency programs without researching. You should always research to see if your school is approved in the state and you should also research to see if the residency program will accept you. Most states don’t DISAPPROVE Caribbean medical schools and they have the APPROVED list of schools.  If your school is not in the DISAPPROVED list then it’s good; however, some residency programs will only accept students from schools in the state’s approved list.

According to the IU Health Ball Memorial Hospital Family Medicine Residency Program web site:

Before applying, please visit the Indiana Licensing Board’s web site to determine if your school is approved for licensure in Indiana. If your school is not on the “approved” list, we will not be able to consider your application.

According to the Indian Licensing Board, Ross, Saba, SGU, and AUC are the only foreign schools which are approved. And all other schools which are not in the disapproved list are taken in a case by case manner. Some schools in Indiana will not consider students if they are not in the approved list. So, students from SJSM, MUA, Xavier, AUA, AGU and other schools, don’t bother applying in Indiana. Don’t waste your money in applying for programs in states that your school is not approved in.

Another issue you need to consider is when will you get your medical license. Residents usually sit for USMLE Step 3 after the intern year of residency and get their license. However certain criteria have been changed and now some states require residents to complete their entire residency in order for the state to issue their medical license if their school is not from the approved list.

According to the Georgia Medical Board:

Graduates attending schools not listed in the Medical Schools Recognized by the Medical Board of California must complete three (3) years of post graduate training in a program accredited by the ACGME.

Basically post graduate training is residency and you have to finish your residency in order to get your license.

According to the Alaska Medical Board web site, it doesn’t have much restrictions except just passing your boards and be a legal US resident.  The following is from the board’s medical statues & regulations:

Sec. 08.64.225. Foreign medical graduates.
(a) Applicants who are graduates of medical colleges not accredited by the Association of American Medical Colleges and the Council on Medical Education of the American
Medical Association shall
  (1) meet the requirements of AS 08.64.200(a)(3) and (4) and 08.64.255;
  (2) have successfully completed
     (A) three years of postgraduate training as evidenced by a certificate of completion of the first year of
postgraduate training from the facility where the applicant completed the first year of internship or residency and a certificate of successful completion of two additional years of postgraduate training at a recognized hospital; or
     (B) other requirements establishing proof of competency and professional qualifications as the board considers necessary to ensure the continued protection of the public adopted at the discretion of the board by regulation; and
  (3) have passed examinations as specified by the board in regulations.
(b) Requirements establishing proof of competency under (a)(2)(B) of this section may include
  (1) current licensure in another state and an active medical practice in that state for at least three years; or
  (2) current board certification in a practice specialty by the American Board of Medical Specialties.
(c) In this section, “recognized hospital” means a hospital that has been approved for internship or residency training by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education or the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada.

Be smart and research before applying for residencies so you will save your self time and money and increase your chances of getting a residency.