News

USMLE Step 2 Clinical Skills (CS) Testing Suspension to Continue Through May 31, 2020

The USMLE program is closely monitoring the guidance of the World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention regarding the spread of the novel Coronavirus and its associated disease, COVID-19.  We are aware that examinees are scheduled to take USMLE Step 2 Clinical Skills (CS) and of the importance of the examination to their future goals and obligations.  However, given the unique, human-to-human delivery mode of this exam, it is important to take the following precautionary steps to protect the health of examinees and test center staff.

Clinical Skills Evaluation Collaboration (CSEC) Test Center Closures
All CSEC test centers are temporarily closed.  We hope to resume operations of all centers on June 1, 2020.  Given the fluid nature of this situation, please be aware that this date is subject to change. Please monitor www.usmle.org and USMLE social media for updates.

Change to the Step 2 CS Calendar and Scheduling System and Impact to Examinees
The suspension in testing has resulted in the cancelation of a large number of testing appointments. In order to manage the large number of examinees impacted by the CSEC center closures, scheduling functionality in the Step 2 CS Calendar and Scheduling system has been temporarily suspended.

  • Canceled Appointments
    If your appointment was canceled as a result of the suspension of Step 2 CS testing, you will be contacted by April 17, 2020. All examinees scheduled to test from March 16 through May 31 will have their eligibility period extended to March 31, 2021. This extension will be done automatically, requiring no action on the part of the examinee.
  • Scheduled Appointments
    If you have an appointment scheduled AFTER May 31, 2020, you can review your scheduling information and you can cancel an appointment. However, if you cancel your appointment, you will not be able to reschedule until scheduling functionality is restored. PLEASE NOTE: Before canceling your appointment, be advised that you will not be able to reschedule until scheduling functionality is restored.
  • Recently Registered
    If you recently registered for Step 2 CS but have not yet scheduled an appointment, you will not be able to schedule until scheduling functionality is restored.
  • Planning to Register
    If you plan to register for Step 2 CS but have not yet done so, please be aware that the application processing and registration continues. However, once your application is accepted, you will not be able to schedule until scheduling functionality is restored.

We do not have an estimated timeline of when scheduling functionality on the Step 2 CS Calendar and Scheduling System will be restored. As soon as we have more information, we will update examinees via the USMLE website and social media.

Score Reporting
Changes to the Step 2 CS score reporting schedule will be necessary as a result of the CSEC test center closures. Updates will be posted to the USMLE website. Results for examinees who tested before March 16, 2020 will be reported on schedule, beginning April 29, 2020 through May 27, 2020.

We appreciate your patience and understanding as we work together through this challenging time. The USMLE program is actively working with other organizations in medical education and regulation to minimize disruption to examinees during this unprecedented situation.

Additional information on USMLE’s response to COVID-19 and some frequently asked questions are available here.

(posted March 13, 2020; updated Apr 3, 2020)

COVID-19 Updates and Resources from USMLE

The United States Medical Licensing Examination® (USMLE®) program has published a COVID-19 page to its website that includes information and FAQs about its responses to the pandemic, including information for examinees whose examination dates have been suspended or rescheduled. This information will be updated as the situation changes.

Examinees should monitor the COVID-19 page on the USMLE website for the latest information.

Announcement Regarding ERAS 2020 Token Issuance

Please note that you can no longer use ECFMG’s OASIS or the MyECFMG mobile app to request a Token for the ERAS 2020 season. If a program requests that you submit an ERAS application for the 2020 season and you do not already have a 2020 Token, please call (215) 966-3520 to reach an ERAS Support Services representative to request a 2020 Token.

If you plan to use ERAS to apply for residency positions that start on July 1, 2021, you can request a 2021 Token via ECFMG’s OASIS or the MyECFMG mobile app beginning in late June 2020.

COVID-19 (Coronavirus) 3/27/2020 Update: Prometric Closures and Step 1, Step 2 CK, and Step 3

Prometric announced on March 17 that test centers in the United States and Canada will be closed for a period of 30 days, starting March 18.

In response, the United States Medical Licensing Examination® (USMLE®) program is extending eligibility periods for Step 1, Step 2 CK, and Step 3 this week, beginning with those that expire in March. All eligibility periods for examinees who currently have a scheduling permit with an unexpired eligibility period ending in 2020 will be extended to have an end date of December 2020, regardless of the country in which they are testing.

Extensions will be processed in order of expiration date, with all extension processing expected to be completed by the week of April 13. Examinees will receive a notification and new scheduling permit when their eligibility extension has been processed. Examinees will need to use the new permit once received.

Extending the eligibility period for your Step 1, Step 2 CK, or Step 3 examination will not impact already scheduled appointments. No fees will be charged for these eligibility extensions. Eligibility periods will be extended automatically, requiring no action from examinees.

If you have questions about your Step 1, Step 2 CK, or Step 3 eligibility or scheduled appointment, the USMLE program again kindly asks you to wait until the week of April 13, when eligibility period extension processing will be complete before contacting your registration entity.  Please continue to check the USMLE website and USMLE social media for updates.

If you are scheduled to take a USMLE examination in a region outside the United States and Canada, please check the Prometric website for the most current list of test center closures before going to the test center on your scheduled test day.

Thank you for your patience, cooperation, and understanding during this challenging time.

(posted March 17, updated March 20; March 28; April 1)

Department of State Signals Visa Processing for Medical Professionals Will Move Forward

ECFMG|FAIMER Continues Focus on Obstacles to IMGs Entering U.S. Training

In a communication today, the U.S. Department of State (DOS) signaled that it would resume processing of J and H visa applications for medical professionals seeking to enter the United States. In its communication, DOS encouraged individuals with an approved U.S. non-immigrant or immigrant visa petition (I-129, I-140, or similar) or a certificate of eligibility in an approved exchange visitor program (DS-2019) to review the website of their nearest embassy or consulate for procedures to request a visa appointment.

The communication follows a March 18 announcement that the United States was suspending routine visa processing for immigrant and non-immigrant visas, including the J and H visas, at embassies and consulates worldwide due to the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic.

Since the March 18 announcement, ECFMG|FAIMER has been in close contact with DOS to raise awareness of the impact of the suspension in visa issuance on the 4,200+ foreign national physicians selected in the March 20 Match to participate in U.S. programs of graduate medical education (GME) beginning July 1. The addition of these physicians to health care teams at teaching hospitals across the United States is critical to meeting our health care needs and combating the current COVID-19 health care crisis.

“We are encouraged that our close relationship and communications with DOS on this issue have resulted in this positive development,” said ECFMG|FAIMER President and CEO William W. Pinsky, MD. “There are still significant obstacles to getting these physicians here, and we can now shift our focus to addressing these other issues.”

The J and H are the most common visa classifications used by foreign national physicians to participate in U.S. GME programs. ECFMG|FAIMER is designated by DOS as the sole J-1 visa sponsor of foreign national physicians in U.S. GME programs. Currently, ECFMG|FAIMER sponsors close to 12,000 physicians at teaching hospitals across the nation, where they engage in medical specialty training and provide supervised patient care.

Match Day Adds 7,000+ International Medical Graduates to U.S. GME Programs

Workforce Additions Critical to Combating COVID-19 Pandemic

Match 2020 Infographic
(Click to enlarge.)

More than 7,000 international medical graduates (IMGs) obtained first-year residency positions in U.S. programs of graduate medical education (GME), according to results of the 2020 Main Residency Match® announced Friday by the National Resident Matching Program® (NRMP®). On July 1 these physicians are scheduled to join teaching hospitals across the nation, where they will engage in medical specialty training and provide supervised patient care. They will join the U.S. physician workforce during a national health care crisis.

“Comprising approximately one-quarter of our active physicians, IMGs are critical to meeting our nation’s health care needs, including the current health care crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic,” said ECFMG|FAIMER President & CEO William W. Pinsky, M.D. “We need every one of these qualified physicians to join their U.S. training programs on time, and we are working aggressively to address any obstacles, such as immigration or travel restrictions, that would prevent these newly matched physicians from bringing their skills and talents to bear on the current crisis.”

IMGs practice in high numbers in medically underserved areas and in primary-care specialties. Friday’s Match results are consistent with the trends for IMGs to join primary-care specialties, such as Internal Medicine, Family Medicine, and Pediatrics—front-line providers in the fight against the current COVID-19 crisis.

The number of IMGs who matched at 7,376 represents an increase of 351 over last year’s Match. Of the 7,376 IMGs who matched, 3,154 are U.S. citizens and 4,222 are citizens of other nations. Sixty-one percent of IMG applicants were selected by U.S. GME programs in the highly competitive Match process, the highest IMG match rate in 30 years. An infographic on IMG performance in the 2020 Match can be found here.

Before they enter U.S. GME, IMGs are assessed by ECFMG®, the Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates. ECFMG’s program for certifying IMGs is a rigorous process that includes passing components of the United States Medical Licensing Examination® (USMLE®), the same examinations required of U.S. medical school students and graduates. As part of the certification process, ECFMG verifies the authenticity of IMGs’ medical education credentials, including their medical diplomas, directly with the issuing medical schools. Only IMGs who are certified by ECFMG can enter U.S. GME programs.

ECFMG On-line Services Unavailable March 20-22

Due to scheduled maintenance, ECFMG’s on-line services are expected to be unavailable beginning at approximately 7:00 p.m. on Friday, March 20, 2020. Services are expected to be restored by 6:00 p.m. on Sunday, March 22, 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
  • Step 2 CS Calendar and Scheduling
  • IAN—IMG Advisors Network
  • EMSWP—ECFMG Medical School Web Portal, and its programs for medical schools and other institutions:
    • Status Verification
    • Credentials Verification
    • Performance Data
    • EMSWP ERAS
    • GEMxSMfor 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.

ECFMG|FAIMER Update on Impact of COVID-19 (Coronavirus) Pandemic

ECFMG|FAIMER is closely monitoring the development of the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic, as well as on-going guidance from the World Health Organization, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, governments, and local public health authorities. In keeping with this guidance and our strong commitment to the health and safety of our employees, clients, and the public, we are making temporary changes to some programs and services. These changes include:

  • Postponement of the FAIMER Institute residential session, scheduled to take place in March 2020 in Philadelphia
  • Suspension of test administration for Step 2 Clinical Skills of the United States Medical Licensing Examination, in partnership with the National Board of Medical Examiners and the Federation of State Medical Boards, from March 16, 2020 through at least April 10, 2020
  • Canceling participation in domestic and international meetings

We also have transitioned our employees to working remotely. This will not only safeguard the well-being of employees, but also help to ensure the continuity of our services.

Finally, we are surveying certain stakeholders, including health professions education institutions around the world, to determine if there are local precautions, such as temporary closures of institutions, that might impact programs such as ECFMG Certification and our primary-source credential verification services. We will continue to monitor the status of our services and will provide updates on this website if there are any additional impacts.

We recognize that this situation may present significant disruptions to some who use our services. We are committed to providing support and assistance to clients in order to minimize these disruptions. Please note that, due to an exceptionally high volume of telephone and e-mail inquiries, we may be delayed in responding to inquiries.

Thank you for your patience and understanding during this challenging time. ECFMG|FAIMER extends best wishes for health and well-being to those that we serve around the world.

ECFMG|FAIMER Customer Service Experiencing Exceptionally High Volume

Due to inquiries related to the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic, some customer service departments of ECFMG|FAIMER are currently experiencing exceptionally high call and e-mail volume. We understand the urgency and importance of many of the inquiries, and we are working diligently to respond. Despite these efforts, you may experience extended wait times in the telephone queues and delayed e-mail responses.

We appreciate your patience and understanding as we all navigate this challenging time.

USMLE to Waive Fees for Eligibility Period Extensions and Testing Region Changes

The sponsors of the United States Medical Licensing Examination program (Federation of State Medical Boards and National Board of Medical Examiners®) have agreed, in response to concerns about the spread of COVID-19, to waive fees for eligibility period extensions and testing region changes effective immediately.

This temporary fee waiver is intended to give examinees flexibility in scheduling examinations during the COVID-19 outbreak. The USMLE program will continue to monitor the situation for any significant changes in the course of the pandemic that might warrant further action in order to protect the health of examinees, staff, and the general public.

If you reside in or have recently traveled to any country subject to a travel notice, or if you might have come in contact with anyone with suspected coronavirus infection, and/or have concerns about your health and/or the health and safety of those with whom you might come in contact, you should reschedule your examination. If you have any questions, please contact the organization that registered you for your examination.

Examinees should monitor the USMLE website for the latest information.