News

Announcement Regarding ERAS 2021 Token Issuance

Please note that you can no longer use ECFMG’s OASIS to request a Token for the ERAS 2021 season. If a program requests that you submit an ERAS application for the 2021 season and you do not already have a 2021 Token, please call (215) 966-3520 to reach an ERAS Support Services representative to request a 2021 Token.

If you plan to use ERAS to apply for residency positions that start on July 1, 2022, you can request a 2022 Token via ECFMG’s OASIS beginning in late June 2021.

Matched Foreign National Physicians Seeking J-1 Visa Sponsorship for the 2021-2022 Academic Year

ECFMG|FAIMER remains ready to serve foreign national physicians seeking initial J-1 visa sponsorship to enter U.S. programs of graduate medical education (GME) in July 2021. According to results of the 2021 Main Residency Match®, 4,356 foreign national physicians matched to first-year residency positions. As the 2021 J-1 visa application season begins, below are a few reminders:

  • The Statement of Need (SON) is a regulatory requirement for all J-1 physicians. In 2020, ECFMG received authorization to accept electronically signed SONs. Applicants for J-1 visa sponsorship are encouraged to pursue this expedient option. Learn more on the SON webpage.
  • The U.S. Department of State (DOS) announced in April 2020 that U.S. embassies and consulates would resume visa services for medical professionals with an approved Form DS-2019. If requests for a J-1 visa interview are not accommodated, please e-mail EVSP-support@ecfmg.org with the applicant’s name, USMLE Identification Number, and the city/country of the consulate or embassy in question. ECFMG|FAIMER will work in partnership with DOS to help mitigate these issues.
  • The Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) has published a library of guidance and resources related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Current and prospective J-1 physicians and their training programs are encouraged to review and monitor this important information.
  • ECFMG|FAIMER collaborated with other national leaders in GME and medical school student leaders to develop a new toolkit of resources to support medical school graduates and U.S. GME programs in the transition to the first year of GME during the COVID-19 pandemic.

ECFMG|FAIMER is committed to supporting training programs and foreign national physicians throughout the 2021 visa application season and to ensuring J-1 physicians can join their programs on time in July. The ECFMG|FAIMER Exchange Visitor Sponsorship Program (EVSP) will communicate with all relevant stakeholders about any new immigration or COVID-19-related issues that may impact J-1 physicians and their training programs.

Step 2 CK – Delay in Score Reporting

Most 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, there will be a delay in reporting for some examinees who test beginning on or after the week of June 27, 2021.

If you need to receive Step 2 CK scores before August 25, 2021, the United States Medical Licensing Examination® (USMLE®) program recommends that you take the exam before Friday, June 25, 2021.

The target date for reporting Step 2 CK scores for most examinees testing the week of June 27, 2021, through Friday, August 13, 2021, will be Wednesday, August 25, 2021.

Examinees should visit the USMLE website for the latest information.

ECFMG|FAIMER, Other GME Leaders Collaborate on Toolkit for Transition to Residency

Transition in a Time of Disruption: Practical Guidance to Support the Move from Undergraduate Medical Education to Graduate Medical EducationECFMG|FAIMER President and CEO William W. Pinsky, MD recently joined forces with other national leaders in graduate medical education (GME) and medical school student leaders to develop a new toolkit of resources to support medical school graduates and U.S. GME programs in the transition to the first year of GME during the COVID-19 pandemic. The final product, titled Transition in a Time of Disruption: Practical Guidance to Support the Move from Undergraduate Medical Education to Graduate Medical Education, was announced Wednesday as a follow-up to last Friday’s Main Residency Match®.

The toolkit of resources is designed to support residents and their residency programs in delivering safe, high-quality patient care during the pandemic and beyond. In addition to ECFMG|FAIMER, the toolkit was developed by the American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine (AACOM), the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC), and the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME). FAIMER President Jeanette Mladenovic, MD, and Tracy Wallowicz, Assistant Vice President for U.S. Graduate Medical Education Services at ECFMG|FAIMER, joined Dr. Pinsky on the committee developing the toolkit.

“The COVID-19 global pandemic has disrupted almost all aspects of life and medical education has been no exception,” Dr. Pinsky said. “Supporting the well-being, professional development, and equitable treatment of incoming residents is critical as they begin their journey to the independent practice of medicine, especially during this time of disruption. These resources will help with that transition.”

This toolkit is divided into three sections:

  • Section I provides a framework and list of questions medical schools, residencies, and learners should review during this transition.
  • Section II provides a matrix of possible activities to help learners and residency programs implement a successful transition.
  • Section III provides a compendium of resources to support the transition for both learners and programs.

“The primary goal of the toolkit is to facilitate a successful and seamless transition from medical school to residency, and to create the necessary conditions to fully support young physicians’ early professional development during unprecedented times,” Dr. Pinsky said. “Investing in supporting all incoming physicians can help to facilitate their success throughout the entire residency.”

USMLE Policy Updates Following Step 2 CS Discontinuation

Step 3 Eligibility Requirements Reinstated; New Information Added to USMLE Transcripts; Attempt Limits Set at Four

The United States Medical Licensing Examination® (USMLE®) Composite Committee, the governing body of USMLE comprised of medical educators, regulators, and members of the public, recently met to determine how the discontinuation of the Step 2 Clinical Skills examination (Step 2 CS) will impact certain USMLE policies. The Composite Committee’s role is to ensure that the program fulfills its mission to support medical licensing authorities in the United States by providing them with meaningful information from assessments of physician competencies—including medical knowledge and skills—that are important to the provision of safe and effective patient care. The decisions surrounding these policies reflect that mission.

The policy decisions made regarding Step 3 eligibility requirements, reporting Step 2 CS results, and attempt limits are described below.

Step 3 Eligibility Requirements

During the Step 2 CS suspension, the USMLE program announced temporary Step 3 eligibility requirements. Since the Step 2 CS exam has been discontinued, these temporary requirements are no longer needed.

Step 3 eligibility requirements will conform with criteria established before Step 2 CS became part of the USMLE. The requirements, which can be found here, are:

  • Passing scores on Step 1 and Step 2 Clinical Knowledge (CK), and
  • An MD degree or DO degree from an LCME- or COCA-accredited U.S. or Canadian medical school, or
  • The equivalent of the MD degree from a medical school outside the U.S. and Canada that is listed in the World Directory of Medical Schools as meeting ECFMG eligibility requirements, and obtain ECFMG Certification.
  • Meets all other eligibility criteria as listed in the USMLE Bulletin of Information.

Reporting Step 2 CS Results

As a medical licensing examination, the USMLE program has the responsibility to produce transcripts that report to state medical boards a complete exam history for each examinee. Accordingly, all Step 2 CS results will continue to be reported on the USMLE transcript.

To facilitate the interpretation of transcripts with either Step 2 CS fails or no Step 2 CS attempts, the following statement will be included on all transcripts:

“The USMLE Step 2 CS examination was suspended on March 16, 2020 and formally discontinued on January 26, 2021. Due to the exam’s discontinuation, examinees with a failing Step 2 CS outcome may not have had an opportunity to retest and remediate their performance. The USMLE defines successful completion of its examination sequence as passing Step 1, Step 2 CK, and Step 3.”

Attempt Limits

Beginning with applications submitted on or after July 1, 2021, examinees will be limited to four attempts per Step exam rather than the six allowed under the current policy. This policy decision is designed to protect the integrity of the exam and more closely match the attempt limits imposed by state medical boards for USMLE in the majority of states.

Once the change to the attempt limit policy is effective, examinees who have attempted a USMLE Step four or more times and have not passed will be ineligible for other USMLE Steps.

If you have any questions about these policies, please contact the USMLE program by using the form available here.

Want to Know More About the Decision to Discontinue Step 2 CS?

Listen to a New Podcast: In the March 4, 2021 episode of USMLE Connection, David Johnson, the Chief Assessment Officer at the Federation of State Medical Boards, and Chris Feddock, Executive Director for the Clinical Skills Evaluation Collaboration, discuss the discontinuation of the Step 2 CS exam, the reasons behind the decision, and next steps.

Match Day Adds 7,500+ International Medical Graduates to U.S. GME Programs

International Medical Graduate (IMG) Performance in the 2020 Main Residency Match
(Click to enlarge)

More than 7,500 international medical graduates (IMGs) obtained first-year residency positions in U.S. programs of graduate medical education (GME), an increase of 132 from last year, according to results of the 2021 Main Residency Match® announced Friday by the National Resident Matching Program® (NRMP®). The number of first-year residency positions offered in the 2021 Match increased by 928 (2.7%) to 35,194 over 2020.

The 7,508 IMGs who matched represent an overall IMG match rate of 57% in this highly competitive process. Of the IMGs who matched, 3,152 are U.S. citizens, a decrease of two, compared to last year. The number of positions obtained by foreign national IMGs is 4,356, an increase of 134 compared to last year. The match rates for U.S.-citizen and foreign national IMGs are 59.5% and 54.8%, respectively. An infographic on IMG performance in the 2021 Match can be found here.

The journey to the 2021 Match for IMGs was fraught with changes and challenges spurred by the COVID-19 pandemic, including worldwide disruptions to medical education and changes to the certification process for IMGs. Despite the challenges, William W. Pinsky, MD, President and CEO of the Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates | Foundation for Advancement of International Medical Education and Research (ECFMG®|FAIMER®), said that he was pleased with the outcome of the Match for IMGs.

“ECFMG|FAIMER succeeded in ensuring an applicant pool of international medical graduates for the Match that was ample, diverse, and highly qualified, which is vital for the U.S. health care system,” Dr. Pinsky said. “IMGs play an important role in providing supervised patient care, contribute much needed diversity to our nation’s health care system, and help to address the nation’s growing physician shortage that is being exacerbated by the pandemic.”

ECFMG|FAIMER assesses the readiness of IMGs before they enter U.S. GME. The 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, and demonstration of clinical and communication skills. As part of the certification process, ECFMG|FAIMER also 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 accredited U.S. GME programs.

Beginning in March 2020, the pandemic forced the suspension and eventual permanent discontinuation of the Step 2 Clinical Skills (CS) component of USMLE, which had been used by IMGs to demonstrate the clinical and communication skills required for ECFMG Certification. ECFMG|FAIMER moved quickly to develop five pathways to allow qualified IMGs who had not passed Step 2 CS to meet the requirements for ECFMG Certification and participation in the 2021 Match. The pathways were critical to producing a robust IMG applicant pool for this Match. Approximately 6,000 IMGs who registered for the 2021 Match completed a pathway; this represents one-third of the total number of IMGs in the Match.

“Appropriate clinical and communication skills are essential for physicians who participate in U.S. graduate medical education,” Dr. Pinsky said. “The pathways ensure that the U.S. public and the U.S. GME community can continue to rely on ECFMG Certification as an indicator that IMGs are ready to enter U.S. GME and to provide supervised patient care.”

For the 2022 Match, ECFMG|FAIMER is expanding the pathways for IMGs to meet the requirements for ECFMG Certification. With the addition of a sixth pathway and changes to certain eligibility requirements, ECFMG|FAIMER expects that more IMGs will be eligible to pursue a pathway for the Match.

“The expansion of the pathways currently underway for the 2022 Match will ensure the continuity and integrity of ECFMG Certification and the vital service it provides to the U.S. public, the U.S. GME community, and to qualified IMGs who pursue training in our nation’s teaching hospitals,” Dr. Pinsky said.

ECFMG On-line Services Unavailable March 19-21

Due to scheduled maintenance, ECFMG’s on-line services are expected to be unavailable beginning at approximately 7:00 p.m. on Friday, March 19, 2021. Services are expected to be restored by 6:00 p.m. on Sunday, March 21, 2021. 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.

Announcement Regarding Eligibility Period Extensions for USMLE Step 1 and Step 2 CK

In early 2020, in conjunction with the United States Medical Licensing Examination® (USMLE®) program, ECFMG®|FAIMER® elected to automatically extend eligibility periods for international medical students/graduates (IMGs) who were registered for USMLE Step 1 and Step 2 Clinical Knowledge (CK) and to temporarily waive the fee for eligibility period extensions. These accommodations were made in order to give examinees flexibility in scheduling examinations during the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic. Since the start of the pandemic, Prometric indicates it has resumed operations in more than 90 percent of its global test center network. While temporary closures and unforeseen events may still occur, the direct impact of the pandemic on scheduling for examinees has declined. As a result, the automatic extension of eligibility periods and temporary fee waiver will end, effective April 1.

Effective April 1, 2021, IMGs who are registered for USMLE Step 1 and/or Step 2 CK and are unable to take the exam in the eligibility period that they are currently assigned may request a one-time, contiguous three-month eligibility period extension (EPEx) using ECFMG’s Interactive Web Applications (IWA) and pay the associated $90 fee.

ECFMG On-line Services Unavailable March 6-7

Due to scheduled maintenance, ECFMG’s on-line services are expected to be unavailable beginning at approximately 4:00 p.m. on Saturday, March 6, 2021. Services are expected to be restored by 8:00 p.m. on Sunday, March 7, 2021. 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.

Update on Pathways for ECFMG Certification for 2022 Match

As announced on January 26, 2021, ECFMG®|FAIMER® will offer expanded pathways for international medical graduates (IMGs) to meet the requirements for ECFMG Certification and to participate in the 2022 National Resident Matching Program® (NRMP®) Main Residency Match® (The Match®). On February 16, 2021, ECFMG|FAIMER published additional information on the 2022 pathways, including:

  • information on who should use the pathways;
  • general eligibility requirements for all pathways;
  • information on the individual pathways, including the new sixth pathway;
  • expected availability of the on-line application; and
  • important information for 2021 pathway applicants.

To access the updated information, visit Requirements for ECFMG Certification for 2022 Match.

Additional information, including detailed eligibility requirements and application instructions, will be published as it becomes available. Please monitor the ECFMG website for updates.