News

Application for Pathways for ECFMG Certification for 2021 Match Briefly Unavailable on October 20

Due to scheduled maintenance, the Application for Pathways for ECFMG Certification for 2021 Match is expected to be unavailable from approximately 7:00 p.m. on Tuesday, October 20, 2020, and it is expected to be restored by 10:00 p.m. the same day. All times are calculated using Eastern Time in the United States.

During this maintenance period, you will be unable to access the Application for Pathways for ECFMG Certification for 2021 Match.

Thank you for your patience and cooperation as we work to maintain high-quality on-line services.

ECFMG On-line Services Unavailable October 16-18

Due to scheduled maintenance, ECFMG’s on-line services are expected to be unavailable beginning at approximately 7:00 p.m. on Friday, October 16, 2020. Services are expected to be restored by 6:00 p.m. on Sunday, October 18, 2020. All times are calculated using Eastern Time in the United States.

During this maintenance period, you will be unable to access most ECFMG on-line services, including the following:

  • IWA—Interactive Web Applications
  • OASIS—On-line Applicant Status and Information System
  • Application for Pathways for ECFMG Certification for 2021 Match
  • EMSWP—ECFMG Medical School Web Portal, and its programs for medical schools and other institutions:
    • Status Verification
    • Credentials Verification
    • Performance Data
    • EMSWP ERAS
    • GEMxSM for Partner Institutions
  • CVS ON-LINE—Certification Verification Service On-line
  • EVNet—Exchange Visitor Network (for staff of U.S. training programs that host ECFMG-sponsored exchange visitor physicians)
  • EPICSM—Electronic Portfolio of International Credentials
    • Physician Portal
    • Report Portal
  • GEMx on-line services for students
  • MyECFMG mobile app

The World Directory of Medical Schools also will be unavailable during this maintenance period.

Thank you for your patience and cooperation as we work to maintain high-quality on-line services.

Eligibility Requirements for Pathways Expanded, More IMGs May Be Eligible

ECFMG|FAIMER has expanded the eligibility requirements for certain pathways used to meet the Requirements for ECFMG Certification for 2021 Match, and additional international medical graduates (IMGs) may be eligible to apply to the pathways. Details on the expanded eligibility requirements and instructions are under development and will be posted to ECFMG’s website as soon as possible. We also are updating the on-line Application for Pathways for ECFMG Certification for 2021 Match to allow newly eligible applicants to apply. Please monitor the ECFMG website for the status of the updated information and on-line application.

We are providing this preliminary information now so that individuals who may be eligible under these expanded requirements can make decisions regarding their applications to residency programs for 2021. Program directors can begin downloading residency applications through the Electronic Residency Application Service (ERAS) on October 21.

If you want to apply to a pathway and believe you are eligible based on the expanded eligibility criteria outlined below, you are strongly encouraged to apply to ERAS now and to complete your ERAS application as soon as possible.

Eligibility requirements have been expanded for Pathways 1, 2, and 4, and the changes are highlighted below. Other eligibility requirements apply to specific pathways, and all applicants who apply to a pathway must meet all other requirements for ECFMG Certification.

Pathway 1:

The types of licenses that satisfy the requirements for Pathway 1 have been expanded. The following has been added as acceptable:

  • Applicant has held a license/registration to participate in postgraduate medical education (i.e., a provisional or training license/registration for postgraduate training) in any country at any time on or after January 1, 2015.
    • The license does not need to permit unsupervised practice.
    • A provisional or training license/registration for the purpose of participating in pregraduate clinical training does not meet the requirements for Pathway 1.

Pathway 2:

There is now an additional option for satisfying the requirements for Pathway 2. The new option is:

  • Applicant attends or has graduated from a medical school in a country where the medical regulatory authority requires an Objective Structured Clinical Examination (OSCE) for licensure of IMGs but does not mandate that same licensure requirement for graduates of domestic medical schools.
    • Students/graduates of medical schools in Malaysia will satisfy the requirements for this new option. These schools will be added to the list of schools eligible for Pathway 2 as soon as possible.

Pathway 4:

The requirements for Pathway 4 have been expanded to include the following:

  • Applicant attends or has graduated from a medical school that is accredited by an agency that has received a determination of comparability by the National Committee on Foreign Medical Education and Accreditation (NCFMEA).
    • Schools that are accredited by the following agencies meet the new requirements:
      • Czech Republic – National Accreditation Bureau for Higher Education
      • Dominican Republic – Ministry of Higher Education, Science and Technology
      • Hungary – Hungarian Accreditation Committee
      • Israel – Council for Higher Education
      • Poland – Polish Accreditation Committee
      • United Kingdom – General Medical Council
    • The schools that meet the new requirements will be added to the list of schools eligible for Pathway 4 as soon as possible. If you are unsure if your school is accredited by an agency listed above, please contact your school or the accrediting agency.

More information will be made available as soon as possible. Please monitor the ECFMG website for updates.

Modern Healthcare Again Names ECFMG|FAIMER a Best Workplace

The Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates|Foundation for Advancement of International Medical Education and Research (ECFMG|FAIMER) has again been selected by Modern Healthcare as a Best Place to Work in Healthcare. ECFMG|FAIMER placed first for the Healthiest Workplace Award in the Suppliers category, and was a finalist for the Family-Friendliest Workplace Award in the Suppliers category.

The Best Places to Work in Healthcare program identifies and recognizes outstanding employers in the healthcare industry nationwide. Modern Healthcare partners with the Best Companies Group on the assessment process, which includes an extensive employee survey.

“Like most high performing organizations, our greatest strength is our people,” said ECFMG|FAIMER President and CEO William W. Pinsky, MD. “Due to the pandemic, we have needed to be nimble and flexible in adapting our operations to continue to serve worldwide communities of medical educators, regulators, and physicians. All of our employees have had to adapt to new challenges and stressors. We have made every attempt to give them the time, resources, and support to ensure they, and their families, are staying well mentally, physically, and emotionally during these challenging times. This honor recognizes our holistic approach to our employees and their families that goes above and beyond the traditional compensation and benefits approach to human resources.”

“It has been an especially trying year for the world, and healthcare in particular as COVID-19 ravages our communities and your workplaces,” said Aurora Aguilar, Modern Healthcare‘s editor. “But the organizations recognized on this year’s list rose to the top and continued to be a source of strength for their teammates. They have seen their colleagues fall ill to the virus and struggled with the economic impact of the pandemic. The loyalty and trust between employers and their workers is being put to the test now more than ever. We congratulate the Best Places to Work in Healthcare for continuing to serve their workforce and communities during such an unprecedented time.”

The complete list of this year’s winners is available here (by subscription only). Modern Healthcare will publish a special supplement featuring a ranked list of all the winners along with its October 12 issue.

Step 1 and Step 2 CK – Score Delays in 2021

Most United States Medical Licensing Examination® (USMLE®) Step 1 and Step 2 Clinical Knowledge (CK) scores are reported within 3-4 weeks of testing. However, because of necessary annual modifications to the test item pools, delays occur for examinees who test at certain times of the year.

Please be aware that examinees testing during the following dates may experience delays in score reporting:

  • Step 1 examinees testing early May through early July 2021 – more specific information will be posted January 2021
  • Step 2 CK examinees testing early July through late August 2021 – more specific information will be posted March 2021

Why is this important to know?
If you need to receive a score before a certain date, plan to take that exam before the projected score delay windows to avoid missing deadlines.

Examinees should monitor the USMLE website for the latest information.

ECFMG On-line Services Unavailable October 2-4

Due to scheduled maintenance, certain ECFMG on-line services are expected to be unavailable beginning at approximately 6:00 p.m. on Friday, October 2, 2020. Services are expected to be restored by 6:00 p.m. on Sunday, October 4, 2020. All times are calculated using Eastern Time in the United States.

During this maintenance period, you will be unable to access some ECFMG on-line services, including the following:

  • IWA—Interactive Web Applications
  • OASIS—On-line Applicant Status and Information System

Thank you for your patience and cooperation as we work to maintain high-quality on-line services.

ECFMG’s 2021 Information Booklet on ECFMG Certification and Application Materials Now Available

ECFMG’s 2021 Information Booklet on ECFMG Certification and the 2021 exam application materials for international medical students/graduates (IMGs) are now available on the ECFMG website. The ECFMG Information Booklet is the definitive source of information on ECFMG Certification and is required reading for applicants.

To meet the examination requirements for ECFMG Certification, IMGs have been required to pass Step 1, Step 2 Clinical Knowledge (CK), and Step 2 Clinical Skills (CS) of the United States Medical Licensing Examination® (USMLE®). The USMLE program has suspended administration of Step 2 CS until at least June 2021. ECFMG has established pathways that will allow qualified IMGs who have not passed Step 2 CS to meet the requirements for ECFMG Certification. These pathways are directed toward individuals who intend to apply to accredited graduate medical education programs in the United States for the 2021-2022 academic year. Information on the Requirements for ECFMG Certification for 2021 Match is available now on the ECFMG website.

Availability of 2021 Eligibility Periods for USMLE Step 1/Step 2 CK

Applicants can use the 2021 Information Booklet and 2021 exam application materials to apply for all available Step 1/Step 2 CK eligibility periods that end in 2021.

As announced previously by the USMLE program, all currently registered examinees who have a Step 1 or Step 2 CK scheduling permit with an unexpired eligibility period with an end date in 2020 will be extended through June 2021. ECFMG expects to complete these automatic extensions by the end of October.

Please monitor the ECFMG website, and follow ECFMG on Facebook and Twitter for updates and important information.

(published August 27; updated September 30)

Proposed ICE Change Will Severely Impact Health Care Delivery During COVID-19 Pandemic and Beyond, Leading Health Care Organizations Say

Five of the nation’s leading organizations in medical education and health care oppose a proposed Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) rule change that will impact more than 12,000 foreign national physicians training in the United States in J-1 visa status. This change will severely hinder health care delivery during the COVID-19 pandemic and into the future.

Earlier this year, ECFMG®|FAIMER® was joined by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME), American Hospital Association (AHA), American Medical Association (AMA), and Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) in opposition to this rule change that has the potential to stress an already strained health care system further as it battles COVID-19 amidst a growing physician shortage. Collectively these organizations asked that ICE exclude J-1 physicians from the rule change.

“If implemented, this will affect thousands of physicians who already have been thoroughly vetted and are serving in nearly 750 teaching hospitals across the nation,” said ECFMG|FAIMER President and CEO William W. Pinsky, MD. “It is a misguided policy for J-1 physicians and will have the unintended consequence of disrupting patient care, especially in underserved areas.”

The proposed change was published in the Federal Register on September 25, opening a 30-day public comment period. In light of this development, the organizations now are working to renew their objection and to urge members of the medical education and health care communities, and policymakers to ask ICE to exclude J-1 physicians from the proposed rule change. ECFMG|FAIMER and allied organizations are calling on the health care community to mobilize in response to ensure ICE reevaluates the proposed rule change and ensures a strong frontline health policy. More information is available at www.ecfmg.org/protect-ds-for-J1s.

The proposed rule change will alter the process used by F, I, and J visa holders to extend their period of authorized stay in the United States. Specifically, it will eliminate “duration of status” as an authorized period of stay, replacing it with a specific end date and the additional requirement to apply through the U.S. government each year to extend this end date. The five organizations agree that the proposed change is redundant for J-1 physicians and will not accomplish its stated goal of reducing visa overstay rates, since J-1 physicians already are monitored closely.

For nearly 50 years, ECFMG|FAIMER has been designated by the Department of State (DOS) as the sole J-1 visa sponsor for physicians in U.S. training programs. In this role, ECFMG|FAIMER already coordinates closely with DOS and with U.S. teaching hospitals to monitor J-1 physicians carefully throughout the academic year. Additionally, under the current process, J-1 physicians are required to apply annually to ECFMG|FAIMER to extend their visa sponsorship. This required annual renewal process already ensures a careful review by ECFMG|FAIMER in order to assure DOS that these physicians are compliant with J-1 visa requirements and progressing through their training programs as planned. When ECFMG|FAIMER completes this annual review and renews a J-1 physician’s visa sponsorship for an additional year of training, the physician’s authorized period of stay is extended for the “duration of status” of the renewed ECFMG|FAIMER visa sponsorship.

If the change is implemented, the physicians’ authorized period of stay would not be extended after the annual ECFMG|FAIMER review and renewal of J-1 visa sponsorship. Instead, J-1 physicians would be required to apply for an extension of stay, after and in addition to renewing their sponsorship annually with ECFMG|FAIMER, either through a U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) Service Center in the United States or through a consulate abroad. Currently, the published processing time at USCIS’ five Service Centers ranges from five to 19 months. Based on current USCIS processing times, thousands of J-1 physicians will be unable to continue their training programs and provide patient care. Similarly, annual travel abroad to extend visa status during residency and fellowship would be problematic due to its likelihood to disrupt training and, in effect, patient care.

REMINDER: Incomplete USMLE Exam Applications in IWA Will Be Deleted on September 29

As part of the transition to the ECFMG 2021 Information Booklet and exam application materials, any United States Medical Licensing Examination® (USMLE®) exam applications that have been saved but not submitted via ECFMG’s Interactive Web Applications (IWA) will be deleted. If you have a saved exam application in IWA, you must complete and submit the application, including payment, by 5:00 p.m., Eastern Time in the United States, on Tuesday, September 29, 2020. If you have begun but not yet submitted the on-line part of an exam application when IWA becomes unavailable on September 29, your incomplete application will be deleted. If your application is deleted, you will be required to begin a new application in order to apply for examination.

(published September 16; updated September 24)

REMINDER: ECFMG’s IWA Unavailable September 29-30

Due to required maintenance, ECFMG’s Interactive Web Applications (IWA) will be unavailable for up to 24 hours, beginning at approximately 6:00 p.m., Eastern Time in the United States, on September 29, 2020.

During this maintenance period, you will be unable to perform any IWA transactions, including working on or submitting an Application for ECFMG Certification or United States Medical Licensing Examination® (USMLE®) exam application, and accessing a USMLE scheduling permit.

Thank you for your patience and cooperation as we work to maintain high-quality on-line services.

(published September 16; updated September 24)