About ECFMG Certification | IMGs in the United States | Definition of an IMG | How the Certification Process Works | Requirements for Certification | Reference Guide for Medical Education Credentials | Eligibility for Examination | Verification of Credentials | Certification Verification
ECFMG was founded in 1956 to assess, through a program of certification, whether international medical graduates (IMGs) are ready to enter residency or fellowship programs in the United States that are accredited by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME). ACGME requires IMGs who enter ACGME-accredited programs to be ECFMG certified. ECFMG Certification is also one of the eligibility requirements for IMGs to take Step 3 of the three-step United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE). Medical licensing authorities in the United States require that IMGs be certified by ECFMG, among other requirements, to obtain an unrestricted license to practice medicine.
The foundation of ECFMG’s certification program has endured remarkably over the last five decades. Throughout the history of the program, the requirements have included examinations in the medical sciences, evaluation of English language proficiency, and documentation of medical education credentials. Over the years, there have been changes in the examinations accepted to meet the requirements for ECFMG Certification and changes to the requirements themselves. These changes have been made to enhance the certification program, respond to the needs of the U.S. graduate medical education community, comply with the changing immigration landscape, take advantage of new technologies, and achieve a common examination pathway to medical licensure for IMGs and U.S. medical graduates.
ECFMG Certification is an effective screening mechanism for ensuring that IMGs in patient care situations have met minimum standards. Each year, thousands of IMGs in the certification process apply to ECFMG for USMLE. Approximately one-half of these individuals are successful in completing all the examination and medical education credential requirements for ECFMG Certification. During the 20-year period between 1986 and 2005, more than 267,000 international medical students/graduates applied to take their first examination with ECFMG; of this number, only 57.2% ultimately achieved certification.