FMG Portal: Assisting FMGs to become U.S. Medical Residents

Becoming a physician in the United States as a Foreign Medical Graduate (FMG) requires some hands-on medical experience within the states. That is why FMG Portal has dedicated its services to helping FMGs through every step of becoming a practicing physician in the U.S. We do this by offering connections to clinical externships, clinical electives, clinical clerkships, clinical rotations and clinical observerships. We also offer assistance with CVs and Visas, so there is no kink in your pathway to a U.S. Residency.


Getting U.S. experience is the impetus behind most of FMG Portal’s services, and it does this by connecting you with programs that provide differing levels of experience. Many of the services, such as clerkships vs rotations are the same if not similar, but knowing specifically what they are will help the FMG to understand what they are seeking.

Clinical Externships

Externships are only available to medical graduates, and they do not qualify for medical school credit. They give FMGs the hands-on experience that will be required by many residences in which applicants apply. Some externships cover specific specialties, which can be very beneficial during the Match process if you are looking to join a certain medical specialty.

Some of the other skills that may be learned in an externship are how to write SOAP notes, participate in diagnosis teams and learn how to use an electronic health record (EHR). While FMGs may have already learned adequate diagnosing skills during their medical training abroad, hands-on experience within the U.S. allows them to learn any nuances that could hinder the medical process by being performed in a manner inconsistent with U.S. healthcare system norms.

Clinical Electives

For foreign medical students, clinical electives are a good opportunity to get hands-on training, and FMG Portal has connections with multiple teaching hospitals. This allows the student to get to work closely with attending physicians in a U.S. healthcare setting.

Foreign medical students who have clinical elective experience in the U.S., especially in their desired specialty, have a much better chance of getting a residency match. Not only does it show experience in the U.S. healthcare field, but it also allows for the opportunity to get U.S. letters of recommendation.

Clinical Clerkships

Clerkships and electives are terms that may be used interchangeably, as they are very similar. In some curricula, they are compulsory. However, U.S.-based clinical clerkships offer a unique opportunity for foreign medical students to participate in healthcare delivery with experienced physicians. This will not only aid the student in passing their USMLE tests, but it will also give the opportunity for cultural adjustment. Cultural adjustment may not seem like a huge component of U.S. healthcare experience, but it greatly aids in communication, which can enhance an interview.

Clinical Rotations

Rotations are very similar to clerkships, and again, the names can be used interchangeably. The word rotation is significant in U.S. rotations because it implies that a student rotates through different specialties in their final year of medical school while supervised by a physician in order to obtain a well-rounded medical education.

Clinical Observerships

Observerships are established when an FMG gets to observe a specialty by participating in a 2-4 week program. This is meant to allow the FMG to get an idea of how the American culture of healthcare works, and it allows the FMG to establish connections along with witnessing firsthand how the medical care is provided in the particular specialty.

Other Services


Immigration laws are constantly changing with the current administration, and this can make applying for visas difficult and confusing. That is why FMG offers assistance in this endeavor, so you can focus on the more important matter of your education and residency placement.


Having a thorough CV is essential to residency placement, but it can be difficult to pare down a full resume to fit the needs of a certain specialty. Our experts can take out the unnecessary details in order to highlight the parts of you that will make you appeal to your residency program director.

ERAS Application

The ERAS application is obviously one of the most important parts of the Match, and filling it out properly could mean the difference between consideration and simple rejection. FMG Portal’s staff can help you fill it out properly, so you don’t miss your change based off of a minor issue.

If you are a Foreign Medical Graduate or a Foreign Medical student looking for resources to get Matched and become a successful physician in the U.S., FMG Portal has the skills, resources, and the connection you have tohave to get you there. As an FMG, you must prove the quality of your education through ECFMG certification, CVs and applications that show that you are the type of resident a program would want to have educated under them.

Don’t travel the FMG road to medical practice in the U.S. alone. Get help where you need it with FMG Portal.

Residency Specialty Spotlight: Oncology

Cancer is one of the greatest medical challenges of our time. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), it is the second-leading cause of death worldwide, accounting for about 1 in 6 of all deaths–a total of over 8.8 million people in 2015. It’s also been the subject of considerable biomedical research in recent decades, leading to significant advances in treatment and prevention options, so if you’re a foreign medical graduate, now is one of the most exciting times to train for a career in oncology in the United States. Not only will you be making a positive difference in the lives of patients struggling with the disease, but you will also have the chance to learn about the most cutting-edge techniques, technologies, and therapies used for treating the disease. Read on to learn more about the road to a career in oncology and what you need to do to pursue this specialty area of medicine.


Oncology Residency and Fellowship Training Options for Foreign Medical Graduates


As an aspiring oncology specialist looking for residency and fellowship training in the United States, there are two training paths for you to choose from. Both offer excellent training for foreign medical graduates, so you can’t go wrong either way!



  • Option 1: Internal Medicine Residency (3 years) + Oncology Fellowship (2-3 years)


The traditional route to becoming an oncology specialist is to start by completing a three-year US medical residency program in internal medicine before completing a three-year fellowship in Hematology and Oncology or (less commonly) a two-year fellowship program in Oncology. For foreign medical graduates, this can be a great option, especially since the latest data from the National Resident Matching Program (NRMP) indicates that internal medicine is the most common residency specialty area for foreign medical graduates, accounting for about 43.9 percent of all successful matches in 2015. Spending three years studying internal medicine can also be helpful if you’re not yet sure which area of oncology you want to focus on for your career, because an internal medicine residency will give you in-depth insight into all of the different body systems that may be affected by cancer.


Although the most common fellowship option for aspiring oncology specialists in the United States is Hematology and Oncology, many institutions have also been adding more specialized programs, including some that last only a single year and are designed for physicians who have already completed both an internal medicine residency and a general oncology fellowship. Here are a few of the more specialized topics that you might pursue in a fellowship:

  • Breast Surgical Oncology
  • Cancer Anesthesia
  • Cancer Rehabilitation
  • Gynecologic Oncology
  • Head and Neck Surgical Oncology
  • Leukemia
  • Lymphoma / Myeloma
  • Musculoskeletal Oncology
  • Neuro-Oncology
  • Oncologic Emergency Medicine
  • Onco-Nephrology
  • Urologic Oncology


  • Option 2: Partial Internal Medicine Residency (1 year) + Full Radiation Oncology Fellowship (4 years)


An increasingly popular option, which has become available more recently, is to spend your first year in a medical residency in a generalist subject–such as internal medicine, surgery, or a related field–before advancing to a four-year residency program in radiation oncology. One of the advantages of this option is that the total training time is only five years, and you can start practicing as an oncology specialist as soon as you finish, without completing a fellowship program beforehand. However, it is important to note that you’ll have to go through the NRMP residency matching process again after the first year of your residency, which can be challenging and time-consuming, especially considering the obligations you’ll have as a first-year resident in your generalist program.


What to Expect from Oncology Residency and Fellowship Programs


Although oncology residency and fellowship programs differ in their scheduling and organization, there are certain things you generally expect from the training. After having gained a foundation of knowledge in your full or partial internal medicine residency program, you’ll have the chance to focus more specifically on oncology care, including cancer mechanisms, diagnostic imaging, treatment planning, side effect management, recurrence prevention, and even healthcare policy, among other topics. In some programs, you may have the opportunity (or be required) to conduct either basic, translational, or clinical research. With most programs, by the time you finish, you’ll be ready to achieve subspecialty certification in Medical Oncology and/or Hematology through the American Board of Internal Medicine (ABIM).


Pre-Residency Planning for a Career in Oncology


Oncology residency and fellowship programs can be highly competitive, so as a foreign medical graduate, you need to be able to show residency programs that you are a strong candidate. One way to strengthen your candidacy is to complete a graduate externship in oncology before you try to get matched. Completing a program like this can help you show an application reviewer that you are truly committed to the specialty area, and it can give you something to talk about during your residency interviews. It will also allow you to make connections with attending physicians in the United States, who may be able to write letters of recommendation to support your application.

FMG Portal offers graduate externships for foreign medical graduates in a wide range of specialty areas, including oncology. Contact us today to learn more about our programs!

Foregoing an Observership in Favor of a Clinical Externship

As a foreign medical student, an observership in the United States might sound like a great idea. After all, an observational experience in a clinical setting might have been one of the things that initially inspired you to pursue a career in medicine. When you were in secondary school or completing your undergraduate studies, just spending a short period shadowing a physician may have really made a difference when determining your decision to pursue a medical course of study. However, the situation is much different after you’ve completed medical school. As a foreign medical graduate, you have dedicated years of your life to the study of medicine in the classroom and the clinic, so it is far less likely that you will truly gain from standing by and watching other physicians work. Therefore, if you’re looking for a US experience before applying to a US medical residency program, the best approach is to forego an observership in favor of a clinical externship. Read on for more information about why.


The Differences between an Observership and a Clinical Externship


The fundamental problem with observerships is that they are just what they sound like: the chance to observe another physician go about their daily routine. But as a foreign medical graduate, you’ve probably already spent a lot of time doing just that over the course of your education—and a few more months of doing so before you apply for a US medical residency program probably won’t make a big difference. Plus, if you try to write about an observership on your personal statement when you apply, it will be harder for you to argue that the familiar experience was truly meaningful–and the program official who is evaluating your application will be able to tell.


Moreover, the observership itself can be both frustrating and disappointing for a well-trained physician like yourself. Once you’ve been classified as an observer in a clinical setting–not as a true participant–it’s easy to get sidelined by other healthcare professionals. If observership is in a high-pressure specialty area like surgery or cardiology, it’s easy to get pushed aside by an attending physician who is (rightly) more concerned about the patient’s health than about making sure you have a good view of the procedure they are performing. As a result, there’s a high risk that you’ll end up missing out on any truly meaningful learning experience you might have had, since you’ll just feel obliged to get out of the way and let the attending physician and the other healthcare professionals do their jobs.


In contrast, if you enroll in a clinical externship program, you’ll always be in on the action. A clinical externship is a truly hands-on experience, which means that you’ll have real responsibilities from Day 1. Depending on the specialty area in which you are working, some of the tasks your attending physician may assign you include:

  • Presenting patients
  • Analyzing patient histories
  • Performing physical examinations
  • Assisting with complex procedures

Put simply, a clinical externship will truly give you a taste for what you would be doing if you chose to pursue a residency in the specialty area of the attending physician with whom you are working. Later in the medical residency application process, you will be able to draw on the experience when you write your personal statement, talk about your career goals during your interviews, and decide which programs from which specialty areas you want to include on your ROL.


Establishing a Strong Relationship with the Attending Physician


Over the course of your clinical externship, your attending physician will come to rely on you to complete the tasks discussed in the previous section. Not only can this increase your knowledge of the specialty and help you cement your decision to pursue a US medical residency program in the area, but it can also enable you to develop a strong professional relationship with your attending physician. They may be able to act as a mentor as you go through the US medical residency application and matching process, and they may agree to write you a strong letter of recommendation when you decide to apply. Since many US medical residency programs require or prefer foreign medical graduates to submit at least one letter of recommendation from a US physician, this relationship can play a major role in whether or not you get matched to the program of your choice.


When you’re just doing an observership–not a clinical externship–you won’t be working quite as closely with the attending physician, so there will be less of an opportunity for true mentorship. Also, because you were only observing clinical procedures (rather than directly participating in them), the attending physician won’t be able to speak to your technical abilities when they write you a letter of recommendation. That will make for a weaker reference that will be less convincing for the program officials who read it.


A Clinical Externship Through FMG Portal

FMG Portal recognizes the value of hands-on experience for aspiring US medical residents, so we don’t offer observerships–only hands-on clinical externships for foreign medical graduates and student electives for foreign medical students. Contact us today to learn more about our high-quality programs!

Keeping in Touch with Your Professional Mentors


After you graduate from medical school, finish a student elective, or complete a graduate externship, it can be all too easy to lose touch with your mentors. As we discussed in our last post, a mentor can have a truly significant impact on the development of your medical career, but in today’s busy world, these relationships often start to falter as time passes. If you’re a foreign medical graduate looking to get matched to a US medical residency program in the future, it is essential to do everything you can to keep this from happening. Read on for more information on why it is so important to stay in touch with your mentors, as well as some tips on how to stay in touch for the long-term.


Top Three Reasons to Keep In Touch With Your Mentors



  • Your mentors will be the ones writing your letters of recommendation for your US medical residency program.


Different US medical residency programs have different requirements for letters of recommendation, but most require you to submit at least three. For some programs, one of these must be from an attending physician with whom you have previously worked. If you continue to cultivate a positive relationship with your mentors, they can get to know you even better, which can ultimately improve the quality of the recommendations you get. It can also be helpful to keep in touch with the dean of your medical school, who is responsible for submitting your Medical Student Performance Evaluation (MPSE) to any US medical residency program to which you apply.


  • A mentor can offer valuable insight on your professional decisions and residency program options.


Sometimes, in your professional life, you’ll find yourself at a crossroads, facing a crucial question that you just can’t seem to figure out. Maybe you’re not sure whether to apply to a US medical residency program now or wait another year. Maybe you’re torn between two truly divergent specialty areas and don’t know which to focus on when deciding where to apply. At times like these, you can reach out to a previous mentor for advice– but it’s a lot easier to do so if you’ve been keeping in touch about what you’ve been doing since the last time you saw them.


  • A mentor may be able to help with your personal statement.


When you’re working on your personal statement, you’ll want all the support you can get. Even though writing your personal statement is inherently an independent project–after all, you’ll want it to be reflective of your unique characteristics–it can be helpful to bounce ideas off others and get expert editing help. If you’ve kept in touch with a mentor like your medical school dean or an attending physician with whom you’ve completed a graduate externship, you may be able to set up a meeting (in-person or on the phone) to chat about your brainstorming process or go over grammatical details of your latest draft. Because your professional mentors often have a more intimate knowledge of the US medical residency program application process than your friends and family, their advice can be especially helpful when you’re working on your personal statement.


Tips for Staying In Touch with Your Previous Mentors


It can be a challenge to figure out how best to stay in touch with the professional mentors who have truly made a difference in your medical education and career. You have to weigh the amount of contact you make: noot enough, and your relationship might falter; too much, and you might end up as an annoyance. Here are a few tips to help you stay on track and successfully sustain your most valuable mentorship relationships.


  • Send a brief email update when you reach a career milestone.


The best time to send an email to a mentor is when you have something to say! When you get a new job, start a graduate externship program, or land a research fellowship, let your mentor know with a brief, polite email update. In the email, you can tell them how excited you are about the new opportunity, what it means for your career, and–perhaps most importantly–you can thank them for everything they did to help you get to where you are today.


  • Hint at your possible future plans.


After letting your mentor know where you are in your career, you may want to briefly mention your future plans. For instance, if you send an email letting them know that you just landed a one-year research fellowship, you may want to say something about how you are considering applying for a US medical residency afterward. That way, your mentor won’t be surprised when you send them an inquiry about a letter of reference in the coming months.


  • Don’t rely on social media.


Friending your mentor on Facebook or following them on Twitter does not count as staying in touch, and it can even threaten your professional relationship. When it comes to staying in touch, it’s best to stick to formal channels of communication, like email (or phone, if your mentor requests a call for a more in-depth discussion).


  • Don’t blow up your mentor’s inbox.


Most of your mentors are probably busy academic and/or clinical professionals with a wide range of professional and personal responsibilities, so they don’t need a daily update on your day-to-day achievements in order to continue to provide you with professional support and eventually write you an outstanding letter of recommendation. Make sure you aren’t sending updates too often, in order to avoid becoming a thorn in your mentor’s side!
Need more help with the US medical residency application process? FMG Portal is here to help! Contact us today for more information!

Residency Specialty Spotlight: Obstetrics and Gynecology


The global conversation about the importance of women’s health is more prominent than ever before. In many countries around the world, both the medical community and the public are raising awareness about reproductive issues, embracing innovative treatment strategies, and fighting to increase access for all women. If you want to dedicate your medical career to advancing women’s health, Obstetrics and Gynecology may be the residency specialty area for you. As an obstetrician/gynecologist (OB/GYN), you would have the opportunity to spend every day working to support women’s health and wellness. Read on to learn more about starting your career in this challenging, dynamic field as a foreign medical graduate.

What It Means to Be an OB/GYN

The work of an OB/GYN centers on women’s reproductive health. That means much of your practice would be associated with pregnancy care. You might be involved in helping women address fertility issues as they try to get pregnant, making sure they stay healthy throughout their pregnancy, contributing to a successful labor and delivery process, and providing post-partum reproductive care to help them recover after the baby is born. However, you should also be aware that not all of your patients will be pregnant women. As a OB/GYN, you will also be prepared to diagnose and treat hormonal conditions in women across their lifespan–from early adolescence to late menopause–even in cases where the woman has no interest in getting pregnant at all.

It is important to note that work in obstetrics and gynecology can often be much more intimate than work in other specialty areas, like surgery or anesthesiology. As an OB/GYN, you will usually develop long-term relationships with your patients, and you are called to serve as a counselor for women who are making important family planning choices that shape the rest of their lives. Therefore, if your medical interests extend beyond reproductive anatomy and physiology into the field of psychology, a job as an OB/GYN may be particularly appealing.

The Road to Becoming an OB/GYN

A residency program in Obstetrics and Gynecology lasts for four years. Over the course of a program, you will have the opportunity to gain extensive experience in every aspect of women’s health. In some programs, you may also have the opportunity to focus your work in a particular subspecialty area of interest, such as reproductive endocrinology, infertility, urogynecology, maternal fetal medicine, gynecologic oncology, or pediatric gynecology. Some programs also offer basic, translational, or clinical research opportunities in these and other women’s health-related topics.

Alternatively, if you are particularly interested in the genetic components of women’s reproductive health, you may start your residency in an OB/GYN residency program and complete it in Medical Genetics residency program. As genetic counseling becomes an increasingly prominent field, more US-based programs are offering this as an option for residents. In order to fulfill the requirements for a Medical Genetics residency, you would spend your first two years in an OB/GYN program and the remaining two years in a Medical Genetics program. This is an ideal track for foreign medical graduates who are particularly interested in research and/or practice related to the genetic aspects of family planning and female reproductive health.

Getting Matched to a Residency Program in Obstetrics and Gynecology

Given the nature of the field of Obstetrics and Gynecology, you might automatically assume that you can only get matched to a residency program if you’re female. However, that may not be the case! While it is true that most residents who match to OB/GYN programs are female–about 82 percent, according to a 2017 report from the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists–it’s largely because so few men apply. In fact, according to recent reporting from National Public Radio, some residency programs actually look for passionate, dedicated male applicants who are ready to make a contribution to the field. Having a male OB/GYN on staff gives female patients more options–and increasing patient choice is a major goal in women’s healthcare today.

Regardless of your gender, one of the ways you can show a residency program that you are ready to take on a challenging career as an OB/GYN is by completing a graduate externship in the field. As a foreign medical graduate, it can be helpful to familiarize yourself with women’s reproductive healthcare in the United States before you apply for your residency. Not only can the experience add weight to the enthusiasm you express in your personal statement and your interviews, but it can also help you start building a network of connections in the field, including potential reference letter-writers.
No matter what specialty area you plan to pursue, FMG Portal is here to help you get matched to the US medical residency program of your dreams! Contact us today for more information!

What If I Didn’t Match? Do’s and Don’ts for Foreign Medical Graduates


Match Week 2018 is officially over! This week, thousands of medical students found out that they had been matched to the program of their dreams, including many foreign medical graduates. If you were lucky, you found out on Monday of Match Week that you had matched to one of the programs on your Rank Order List (ROL) — in which case, congratulations! If not, you may also have participated in SOAP over the course of the week, which is another way in which you may have found a position in a US medical residency program.

However, spots are limited, and even strong candidates don’t always end up getting matched. If that is the case for you, keep in mind that about one in four US medical residency candidates aren’t matched each year, including well-qualified foreign medical graduates. By playing your cards right, you may still find yourself in a US medical residency program in the future — whether it’s in 2018, 2019, or beyond. Here are a few do’s and don’ts that you can follow if you didn’t get matched this week, but you still hope to launch your career in a US medical residency program.

What You DON’T Want to Do If You Didn’t Get Matched

When you find yourself unmatched at the end of Match Week, it is important to avoid pitfalls that have the potential to derail your dreams of a medical residency for good. Here are a few DON’Ts that you can follow in order to stay on the path to success:


  • DON’T give up on a 2018 medical residency just yet.


After SOAP ended on Thursday of Match Week at 12:00 pm, all unmatched candidates were granted access to the post-SOAP list of unfilled programs. Now is a great time to take a look at all of the programs on the list and start contacting programs about a possible offer.


  • DON’T fall out of touch with your medical school.


After not getting matched to a medical residency program, some applicants are embarrassed and don’t want to face the dean or their instructors. It’s especially easy to fall out of touch with your medical school if you have just graduated and you were hoping to enter directly into a US medical residency program. However, if you stay in contact with your medical school, they may be able to help you find research opportunities, support your search for externships, and attest to your commitment to a US medical residency program when you submit your application the next time around.


  • DON’T assume that you need to apply in 2019.


Another common misconception among residency candidates who didn’t get matched is that the next logical step is to start polishing your application for 2019. However, you may want to consider taking a year off to strengthen your application for the 2020 NRMP Match. For example, within that year, you may be able to get a 3-month (or even longer) clinical externship in the United States, which can help you make more connections and develop a stronger application for the 2020 application cycle.

Important DO’s for Foreign Medical Graduates Who Didn’t Get Matched

As you move forward from an unsuccessful Match Week, making sure you don’t make mistakes is important — but what you DO over the next few days and months can make an even greater difference for your future attempts to get matched. Here are several DO’s that can help maximize the odds that you will eventually end up in a US medical residency program.



  • DO learn from your first application and interview experience.


Your initial inclination might be to try to forget about the 2018 Match, but you reflecting on your experience may also provide you with key insight into how you might succeed in the future. If you didn’t get any interviews, you may want to look for ways to improve your personal statement, strengthen your CV, and/or get better letters of recommendation. If you did interview, you may want to think about what you can do to improve your interview outcomes next time.  


  • DO take the USMLE Step 3 Exam before you apply again.


As we discussed in an earlier post, foreign medical graduates have the option of whether or not to take the USMLE Step 3 Exam before applying for a US medical residency program. Experts say that taking (and passing!) the USMLE can significantly improve your competitiveness if you are applying for a second time. This shows programs that you are truly committed to success within a US medical residency program.  


  • DO explore your options for future programs.


As you look ahead to your US medical residency program prospects in the future, you may want to broaden you options when it comes to specialty area and location. If you are more flexible about your choices, you may be more likely to get an offer from a less-competitive program in the future. If you are thinking about applying for programs in a different specialty area or learning more about programs in a different area of the United States, completing an externship program is a great way to explore your options.
For more information about improving your chances of getting matched in the future, contact FMG Portal today!

Logistical Issues to Consider When Preparing for a Clerkship in the United States


In our last blog post, we discussed some of the benefits of a US-based clerkship for foreign medical students. If you are earning your medical degree at a school outside the United States, getting some of your elective credits through a clerkship program in the United States can offer a wide range of academic advantages, and it may also provide practical benefits if you intend to apply for a residency program in the United States in the future. While considering these opportunities is exciting, you also need to think about the clerkship options from a logistical perspective. In order to make the most of your clerkship experience, you have to make sure that all of the logistical details are in order so that it goes smoothly. Read on for more information about the logistical issues you need to consider as you prepare for a clerkship in the United States.

Setting Up a Clerkship in the United States

A clerkship in the United States is an unprecedented learning opportunity — not to mention a life-changing experience — but setting it up does require some advance planning. The first step of the process is to make sure that you are eligible for a clerkship program. In general, that means you have to meet three key criteria:

  • You are enrolled in a medical school that is accredited by your home country.
  • You are taking enough credits to qualify as a full-time student.
  • You are currently in good standing at your medical school.

If you meet these basic requirements, you are probably eligible to participate in a clerkship in the United States. There are several different clerkship scheduling options you can choose from, depending on your scheduling needs and academic interests. Before you apply, you need to examine some of the options to find one that is right for you. Here are the options offered by FMG Portal:


  • A 3-Month Clinical Elective Plan. With this plan, you will spend three months in the United States, spending each month under a different Attending Physician in a single specialty (or subspecialty) area. This is the plan for you if you have a good idea of your desired residency specialty area.
  • A “Triple Play” Clinical Elective Program. This plan also lasts for three months, but it allows you to gain experience in three different specialty or subspecialty areas. This offers a great opportunity for you to compare specialty options if you aren’t sure about which residency specialty you want to apply for after medical school.
  • A Flexible Clinical Elective Plan. This plan is best for students who are looking for an option that aligns with highly specific personal needs or institutional requirements. A flexible plan can last anywhere from one to twelve months, and you may gain experience in one or more specialty or subspecialty areas, depending on your needs.

As you consider these three options, it is also important to note that you need to get approval for your elective schedule from your medical school. While US-based clerkships are generally well-regarded by medical schools around the world, it is still important to make sure that your school will grant you the elective credits you need to continue your progress toward your medical degree.

Once you have decided on a US-based clerkship option and cleared it with your school, you are ready to start the application and enrollment process. The necessary documentation can vary depending on your country of origin, so make sure you start early! — All documentation materials need to be in at least four weeks before the deadline.


Choosing a Service that Streamlines Your Clerkship Setup Experience


There is no doubt that a US-based clerkship has the potential to enhance your education and boost your future career prospects, but if you choose a service that doesn’t offer the logistical support you need, an exciting opportunity can quickly devolve into a major headache. As a full-time medical student working hard to fulfill academic requirements and become the best physician you can be, you just don’t have time for it. Therefore, it is important to choose a service that offers assistance at every stage of the process. For instance, FMG offers visa embassy interview assistance, which can help you get your documentation in order, as well as accommodation assistance, so you won’t have to spend hours scouring the internet, trying to find an affordable place to live.

Of course, there is also the ever-present question of financing. Given the significant academic and practical benefits of a US-based clerkship, it can be a valuable investment in your future. However, in order to make sure you stay within your budget before, during, and after the clerkship, you may want to look for a service that offers a monthly payment program that is optimized for medical students who come from a wide range of economic backgrounds.
If you’re concerned about the logistical details of a US-based clerkship, take a look at the services FMG Portal has to offer. Our program’s credits are almost always recognized by foreign medical programs, and we streamline the setup process so that when you get to the United States, you can make the most of your experience. Contact us today for more information!

The Benefits of a US-Based Clerkship for Foreign Medical Students

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No matter where in the world you are earning your medical degree, you have to meet a certain set of core credit requirements — but you also have the opportunity to make choices when it comes to how you earn your elective credits. If you have your sights set on entering a US medical residency program after medical school, fulfilling elective credits with a clerkship in the United States offers a wide range of benefits, from both an academic and a practical standpoint. Read on to learn more about why foreign medical students are choosing US-based clerkships for their clinical electives.

Enhancing Your Academic Experience in Medical School

A clerkship in the United States offers an exciting and challenging academic experience that you can’t always get from the standard electives offered at your medical school. For instance, while you are completing your medical school courses, you may discover a passion for a medical subspecialty in which few physicians in your area have significant expertise. By choosing a US-based clerkship as a clinical elective, you could spend three months gaining hands-on experience with three different Attending Physicians who have dedicated their careers to the subspecialty. This would enable you to explore the subject in-depth and gain real-world experience that you wouldn’t be able to get at your medical school.

Alternatively, if you haven’t yet decided on your subspecialty area, there are clinical clerkships in the United States that empower you to explore three different specialty areas over the course of three months. Again, some of these clinical experiences could be in specialty/subspecialty areas that aren’t available in your area. In a US-based clerkship, you may also have the chance to decide between inpatient and outpatient availabilities — another choice that is not available at every foreign medical school.

Even if your medical school does offer electives in your specialty area of interest, it still makes sense, from an academic standpoint, to complete a US-based clerkship if you plan on applying for a US medical residency program in the future. A clinical elective also offers a real-world introduction to the complexities of the US healthcare system, which is a valuable learning experience for foreign medical students who aspire to enter US medical residency programs. The healthcare system in every country is different, and you can learn a lot about what it truly means to practice medicine in the United States over the course of a three-month clerkship.

Practical Considerations for Your Residency Application

For foreign medical students who are planning to enter a US medical residency program after graduation, earning clinical electives through a US-based clerkship makes even more sense from a practical standpoint. Completing a clerkship does not guarantee that you will be matched to a US medical residency program, but it can give you opportunities that will make you a more competitive candidate and help you throughout the application process. Here are a few of the things you would get to do during a clinical clerkship:


  • Make connections with US-based Attending Physicians. Some US medical residency programs require at least one Letter of Reference to be written by an Attending Physician in the United States. During a clerkship, you may be able to develop a positive working relationship with an Attending Physician who could potentially write you a letter of reference in the future.
  • Gain experience in a subspecialty area (or multiple areas) of interest. When you are writing your Personal Statement, you need to be able to lay out a clear set of professional goals and explain why you are a great candidate for a US medical residency program. If you already have experience working in the United States in your specialty or subspecialty area of interest, you can make a much stronger argument.
  • Start preparing for the USMLE. Before you can apply for a US medical residency program, you need to get certification from the Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates (ECFMG) — and for that, you have to pass the USMLE Step 1, Step 2 – C2, and Step 2 – CK exams. The knowledge and skills you gain in a clerkship can help you prepare for success on these exams.
  • Learn what it’s like to live in a certain region of the United States. Because the United States is a large country with diverse regions, it is impossible to give a simple explanation of “what it’s like to live in the United States.” During a clerkship, you will have the chance to find out about the lifestyle of a medical resident in a particular location, which may help you narrow down your residency application choices based on regional considerations or a preference for an urban or rural residency program.



FMG Portal offers top-notch US-based clerkships for foreign medical students who want to earn elective credits in the United States. Contact us today to learn more about what makes our programs stand out!


More Lessons from the 2016 Residency Match Data: Are Outside Experiences Important?


Last week on the blog, we discussed the NRMP report on the outcomes of foreign medical graduates in the 2016 Main Residency Match. To create this report, the NRMP tracked the rates of match success for foreign medical graduates based on a number of key measures, such as program ranking choices and test scores. As we mentioned in last week’s post, there are clear lessons that you can learn from the data on ranking choices and test scores as a foreign medical graduate preparing for a U.S. medical residency.

However, when it comes to the report’s information on foreign medical graduates’ outside experiences, the implications of the raw data are less clear. Read on for more about how you can understand the numbers and apply the information to maximize your chances of match success as a foreign medical graduate.

Statistics on the Outside Experience of Matched and Unmatched Foreign Medical Graduates

As a foreign medical graduate, you might find yourself asking the question of whether or not it is important for you to get outside research and/or work experience before you apply for a U.S. medical residency program. At the outset, the data in the NRMP report doesn’t seem to provide much help in answering that question. For all the different types of outside experiences that the NRMP measured, the average numbers for matched and unmatched foreign medical graduates was almost exactly the same. Consider the following statistics:

  • For foreign medical graduates who were matched in 2016, the mean number of research experiences was 2.2. For those who were unmatched, the mean number of research experiences was also 2.2.
  • For unmatched foreign medical graduates, the mean number of abstracts, presentations, and publications  was 6.4 — slightly higher than the same statistic for matched candidates, which was 6.1.
  • The mean number of work experiences was 5.3 for matched foreign medical graduates and 5.5 for unmatched candidates.
  • For foreign medical graduates who were matched, the mean number of volunteer experiences was 3.5, as compared to 3.4 for candidates who were unmatched.

When you look deeper into the data and examine these same statistics broken down by specialty area, the numbers only get more confusing. For some specialty areas, the mean number of experiences reflects the overall average — about the same for matched and unmatched candidates. There are only a few where the average number for matched candidates significantly outweigh those for unmatched candidates. There are even some specialty areas where the average number of experiences is considerably higher for unmatched applicants.

What the Statistics Mean for You as a Future US Medical Residency Applicant

Considering these statistics can be daunting for foreign medical graduates. Based on the data, it just isn’t clear whether having more outside experiences — or any at all — can truly help you in the matching process.

One of the reasons why it is so hard to draw conclusions from the data is that averages are prone to skewing. Consider the data for abstracts, presentations, and publications. While the average for both matched and unmatched candidates was around 6, nearly 40 percent of the of the applicant pool of foreign medical graduates in 2016 had no publications at all. This indicates that certain applicants are skewing the data, so if you have less than 6 publications, it doesn’t mean you fall short of the “average” applicant.

Ultimately, the main takeaway from the NRMP data about outside experiences is that the number of outside experiences you have does not really matter. What matters is the quality of the outside experiences — and your ability to illustrate that quality on your application. An outside experience can be worthwhile if you can weave it into your personal statement — writing about how it has prepared you for your residency and how it has influenced your career goals — or if you can get a letter of recommendation from a supervisor or mentor who can speak to your excellent performance during the outside experience. Otherwise, if the outside experience is just a line item on your CV, it probably won’t make much of a difference for whether or not you end up getting matched.

Thus, one of the best options for an outside experience is a clinical externship in the United States. Completing a clinical externship in the United States is ideal because it shows residency programs that, as a foreign medical graduate, you are already comfortable working in a clinical setting in the United States. After completing a clinical externship, you may also be able to get a letter of recommendation from an attending physician in the United States, which is preferred (or even required) by many U.S. medical residency programs.


If you’re interested in completing a clinical externship before you apply for a U.S. medical residency program, FMG Portal offers 3-month and 6-month externship options in a wide range of specialty areas. Contact us today for more information!


Medical Specialty Spotlight: Nephrology


Kidney disease is a growing problem around the world, but if you are looking to specialize in nephrology, one of the best countries to train in is the United States. According to the National Institutes of Health, about 14 percent of the American population has chronic kidney disease (CKD), as compared to only 10 percent of the world population as a whole. In total, about 661,000 American have kidney failure. About 468,000 of these patients are on kidney dialysis, and about 193,000 have a functioning kidney transplant. According to the American Journal of Kidney Diseases, the prevalence of CKD in the United States is expected to increase by 27 percent by 2030.

The two most common causes of CKD are high blood pressure and diabetes, with almost half of CKD patients reporting that they have been diagnosed with one or both of these conditions. That’s why CKD is so common in the United States — because of the high prevalence of cardiovascular disease and diabetes. However, its is important to note that changing lifestyles in developing countries are also raising the rates of these diseases worldwide, especially as the number of elderly individuals in countries like China and India grow. Therefore, in the future, there will probably be a high demand for nephrology specialists around the world.

If you are looking to become a nephrologist — that is, a physician specializing in the treatment of kidney disease — it just makes sense to complete your residency and fellowship in the United States, given the high rate of CKD in the country and the likelihood that it will rise in the future. Read on to learn more about the educational pathway to becoming a nephrologist.

Internal Medicine Residency: The First Step on the Path to Nephrology Career

Because nephrology is a specialization within the field of internal medicine, the first step to becoming nephrologist (after finishing medical school) is to complete an internal medicine residency program. These programs last for three years, and they are particularly popular among foreign medical graduates. Of all the foreign medical graduates who were matched to residency programs in the United States in 2015, 67.3 percent were matched to internal medicine programs, according to the National Residency Matching Program (NRMP).

In an internal medicine residency program, you can expect to gain a broad background education in the diagnosis, treatment, and management of disease and disorders that affect all of the internal body systems — including the renal and urinary systems. In addition to your clinical and didactic training, you may also have the opportunity to engage in research. If you are hoping to become a nephrologist, you may be able to conduct advanced research in nephrology, which can help you prepare for the specialization later on in your career.

Once you finish your internal medicine residency program, you will be prepared to take the American Board of Internal Medicine (ABIM) certification exam. After you pass the exam, you will be eligible to apply for a fellowship in nephrology in order to pursue your dream of becoming a specialist in the field.

Completing a Nephrology Fellowship Program

During a nephrology fellowship program, your studies will focus specifically on kidney-related diseases and disorders. As previously mentioned, CKD is the most common kidney disease in the United States and around the world, but as an aspiring nephrologist, you will also gain expertise in other kidney conditions, including:

  • Kidney stones
  • Polycystic kidney disease (PKD)
  • Acute renal failure
  • Glomerulonephritis
  • Pyelonephritis
  • Bartter syndrome
  • Dent disease
  • Nephronophthisis
  • Gitelman syndrome

Depending on your area of interest, a nephrology fellowship program can last anywhere from two to four years. If you choose to focus your fellowship on clinical training, it will typically last for two years. In addition to learning about the treatment of the conditions listed above, you may also have the chance to learn about cutting-edge clinical treatment options, such as home-suitable dialysis. You will also gain expertise in related areas of clinical care that you will likely encounter in your practice, such as geriatric care and palliative treatment.

Alternatively, you can choose to focus your fellowship on research — either clinical research, translational research, or basic science research. For aspiring researchers, a nephrology fellowship typically lasts three to four years. If you choose the clinical research pathway, you may be able to earn a master’s degree over the course of your training. As a nephrology research fellow, some of the topics you might study include:

  • Epidemiology of kidney disease
  • Public health strategies to improve access to CKD treatment in developing countries
  • Drug development for rare kidney disease
  • Cancer-related signaling pathways in kidney cells

After you finish the fellowship program, you can take the optional Nephrology Certification exam offered by the ABIM to demonstrate your expertise in the field. From there, you start your career as a nephrology-focused clinician, researcher, your researcher/practitioner.

If you are a foreign medical student or graduate, getting a job as a nephrologist might seem like a long way off, considering the years of preparation that are required, but it’s never too early to start preparing yourself! A clinical externship in nephrology can be a great way to get a feel for the field and establish connections with medical professionals in the United States before you apply for an internal medicine residency. Contact FMG Portal today to learn more about how this opportunity and the other ways we can help you get matched!