A recent news article titled, ”The fate of Pakistani medical graduates working in US hangs in balance” has created a lot of misconceptions and chaos amongst the Pakistan medical community. Emerging Visions, official representative for Kaplan Medical in Pakistan, would like to clear some doubts to ensure medical students and physicians who are interested to work in the United States are making smart decisions and planning their timeline and calendars accordingly.
We all know that changes happen in any sphere of life. ECFMG had announced that starting in 2024, students who apply for ECFMG certification must have attended a school that is accredited by an agency, officially recognized by the World Federation for Medical Education (WFME). Pakistan, like many countries due to the pandemic, saw delays with that process but to paint the message that Pakistani doctors will not have a chance to match into residency in the USA, is misguided. Currently, one forth of the physicians working in the United States are International Medical Graduates (IMG’s).
Interestingly, Pakistan is the third leading country sending physicians to the US on a J1 visa behind only Canada and India (*Over 1,243 in 2020). The U.S needs IMGs and that number is expected to continue to grow. As always, obtaining a medical residency for any international medical graduate is competitive and recent changes to both USMLE and ECFMG have created increased obstacles that applicants must be aware of.
At present, this is the list of countries who have or are in the process of establishing an authorized accrediting agency: WFME Accredited Countries. As you can observe, there are many countries globally who have not yet initiated the accreditation process. The Pakistan Medical Commission has already been established as an authorized agency. This is a great first step but there is still a lot of work that needs to be done to ensure each school meets these new accreditation requirements.
What needs to be done before 2024?
Most importantly, as per ECFMG, if a student or graduate from a currently acceptable school applies for ECFMG Certification before 2024, they will be able to take the USMLE exams and obtain ECFMG Certification under our current rules, even if that process extends into 2024 or later.
Applying through ECFMG is the first step in the process, before applying for and taking your USMLE exams.
To confirm that your medical school meets the current ECFMG’s requirements, visit the World Directory of Medical Schools at www.wdoms.org. Medical schools that meet ECFMG’s requirements will have a note stating this in their directory listing under “Sponsor Notes.”
Once you are enrolled in a school that meets the current requirements, you can apply for ECFMG Certification anytime before 2024. This means submitting the online application for certification and the certification of identity form (Form 186).
You are eligible to start taking your USMLE exams after you have completed the second year of medical school. As long as you apply before 2024, you can take your exams and finalize your certification process as you are ready, even if that is after 2024.
Please refer to the page for more on the ECFMG Certification process: https://www.ecfmg.org/certification/
See here for more on the 2024 Accreditation Requirements: www.ecfmg.org/accreditation.
Stay positive and informed medicos. Follow us for the latest updates on US medical residency so that you know the full facts and are making smart and informed decisions that help increase your chances in the Match! Best of luck with the next steps in your medical career. For more information or support with your journey, please feel free to contact us.