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ECFMG Certification for Doctors

globe-and-stethescope.jpgThe Education Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates (ECFMG) is responsible for assessing whether doctors who have graduated from medical school outside the United States and Canada are ready to enter into graduate medical education programs accredited by the Accreditation Council for Graduate medical Education (ACGME). If the ECFMG determines that an individual is ready, the ECFMG will issue certification, which the doctor will need for several reasons.

ECFMG certification is required of medical students or graduates who have graduated from a medical school outside the United States or Canada. Foreign students who have graduated from a U.S. or Canadian medical school are not required to obtain ECFMG certification. Furthermore, your medical school must be listed in the International Medical Education Directory (IMED) of the Foundation for Advancement of International Medical Education and Research. This directory can be accessed on the ECFMG website (

To be eligible for certification, you must also fulfill education credential requirements. You must have at least four credit years at a medical school listed in IMED. However, there are restrictions on credits that can be used to meet this requirement. You must also document the completion of all requirements for, and receipt of, the final medical diploma. ECFMG must receive and accept verification directly from your medical school.

Examination Requirements

Applicants are also required to satisfy certain examination requirements. Specifically, you must pass the following examinations:

1. Medical Science Examination – You must pass Step 1 and Step 2 Clinical Knowledge of the United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE). Certain former medical science exams may be accepted as well. You will need to refer to ECFMG’s Information Booklet for detailed information.

2. Clinical Skills Requirement – You must pass Sept 2 Clinical Skills of the USMLE. If you have passed the former ECFMG Clinical Skills Assessment and achieved an acceptable score on an English language proficiency test (e.g., Test of English as a Foreign Language), these results may be used to fulfill this requirement. Again, you will need to refer to ECFMG’s Information Booklet.

Applying for Certification

When you are preparing to apply for ECFMG certification, you must read the latest editions of the ECFMG Information Booklet and the USMLE Bulletin of Information. The process of applying for certification includes applying with the ECFMG for a USMLE/ECFMG identification number. This number is required in order for you to take the necessary examinations. If you meet the eligibility requirements (see Bulletin of Information), you may apply for the required exams. All of the exams are offered continuously throughout the year.

Purpose of Certification

ECFMG certification is important to all foreign doctors wishing to participate in a graduate medical education program or to practice in the United States. This certification is required for foreign physicians before they can obtain J1 sponsorship to participate in a U.S. residency program. If you plan on applying for Step 3 of USMLE, you must have ECFMG certification. Licensing jurisdictions in the United States require that foreign doctors applying for unrestricted licensure to obtain ECFMG certification.

The importance of the ECFMG certification cannot be understated. To ensure that you follow the requirements, you must carefully review the information provided by both ECFMG and USMLE. As part of your overall immigration strategy, you must factor the additional time that you will need to spend satisfying the education credits requirements as well as preparing for and taking the required exams.

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