News

ECFMG’s IWA Unavailable August 26-27

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 August 26, 2019.

During this maintenance period, you will be unable to perform any IWA transactions, including working on or submitting an Application for ECFMG Certification or USMLE exam application, accessing a USMLE scheduling permit, or requesting an extension of a USMLE Step 1 or Step 2 CK eligibility period.

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

Incomplete USMLE Exam Applications in IWA Will Be Deleted on August 26

As part of the transition to the ECFMG 2020 Information Booklet and exam application materials, any United States Medical Licensing Examination® (USMLE®) 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 Monday, August 26, 2019. If you have begun but not yet submitted the on-line part of an exam application when IWA becomes unavailable on August 26, 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.

Call for Nominations to ECFMG/FAIMER Board of Trustees

DEADLINE: SEPTEMBER 20, 2019

The Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates (ECFMG®) (www.ecfmg.org) and its Foundation for Advancement of International Medical Education and Research (FAIMER®) (www.faimer.org) are seeking nominees to serve on their combined Board of Trustees. We invite your participation in this important process.

Commitment to Diversity                        

ECFMG and FAIMER are privileged to have a dedicated, volunteer board of up to 21 members with backgrounds in international and domestic medical education, hospital leadership, law, accounting, philanthropy, education, accreditation, business leadership, community health, and other fields.

ECFMG and FAIMER are committed to board diversity including, but not limited to, gender, race, ethnicity, age, and professional background.

Board Member Responsibilities

  • Board members accept programmatic and fiduciary responsibility for ECFMG and FAIMER.
  • Members are expected to prepare for and engage in three in-person board meetings per year, as well as virtual committee meetings for the committees on which they serve.
  • Board members support the philanthropic efforts of FAIMER and make an annual gift to the organization (of any amount).
  • Board members are expected to review and abide by the Bylaws of ECFMG and FAIMER and the Board Operational Policies and Procedures.
  • Board members are required to report all conflicts of interest.

Board Member Criteria

The Governance Committee will use these criteria as part of their assessment of candidates. A successful candidate need not satisfy each criterion.

  • Demonstrated capacity for organizational decision making with voluntary public service activities.
  • Maintain the highest professional and personal ethics.
  • Be a highly motivated individual who is committed to the furtherance of ECFMG’s and FAIMER’s missions.
  • Possess a sense of accountability to ECFMG and FAIMER.
  • Have good people skills and interact well with others.
  • Be capable of being a spokesperson on behalf of ECFMG and/or FAIMER.
  • Possess the interest, commitment, and time to devote to Board of Trustees meetings, committee assignments, appeal hearings, fundraising events, and other work of the Board.

Nominations

To recommend an individual for consideration as an ECFMG/FAIMER Trustee or to self-nominate:

  • Submit a current CV or resume, a brief statement of the individual’s qualifications for the role, and a description of your relationship to the nominee. Self-nominees should provide a brief statement of their qualifications with their CV or resume.
  • Materials should be submitted as soon as possible and no later than September 20, 2019, via e-mail to Maureen Sabo, Secretary of the Board, msabo@ecfmg.org.
  • New Board members will be elected in early December 2019. Members are elected to an initial term of four years and are eligible for reelection to a final four-year term.

Availability of ECFMG’s 2020 Information Booklet on ECFMG Certification and Application Materials

ECFMG’s 2020 Information Booklet on ECFMG Certification and the 2020 exam application materials are expected to be available on the ECFMG website in late August 2019. The ECFMG Information Booklet is the definitive source of information on ECFMG Certification and is required reading for applicants.

For the United States Medical Licensing Examination® (USMLE®) Step 1/Step 2 CK, you can use the 2020 materials to apply for:

  • available USMLE Step 1/Step 2 CK eligibility periods ending in 2019 (September 2019-November 2019 and October 2019-December 2019) and
  • all USMLE Step 1/Step 2 CK eligibility periods ending in 2020, beginning with the November 2019-January 2020 eligibility period.

For USMLE Step 2 CS, you can use the 2020 materials to obtain a 12-month eligibility period that begins on the date that the processing of your application is completed. You will be notified once ECFMG has processed your application.

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

Certain ECFMG On-line Services Briefly Unavailable August 7

Due to scheduled maintenance, certain ECFMG on-line services will be unavailable beginning at approximately 5:00 p.m. on August 7, 2019. Services are expected to be restored by 6:00 p.m. on 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 following:

  • IWA—Interactive Web Applications
  • OASIS—On-line Applicant Status and Information System
  • Step 2 CS Calendar and Scheduling
  • IAN—IMG Advisors Network
  • CVS ON-LINE—Certification Verification Service On-line
  • MyECFMG mobile app

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

ECFMG Co-Organizing Symposium to Address Global Health Workforce Accreditation and Regulation Issues

ECFMG is pleased to announce that it is partnering with the World Health Organization and the Global Health Workforce Network to convene a Global Symposium on Health Workforce Accreditation and Regulation. The Global Symposium, to be held December 10-12, 2019 in Istanbul, Turkey, will engage global experts to address issues in the accreditation of health worker education and the regulation of health workers, with the goal of expanding and optimizing the global health workforce. More information is available in the announcement.

We are now inviting abstracts for poster presentations related to the Global Symposium’s themes. For more information on submitting an abstract, please visit the Global Symposium website at http://www.healthworkforce2019.org.

New Case Studies Offer Actionable Insights to Reduce Clinician Burnout and Improve Well-Being

Clinicians of all kinds, across all specialties and care settings, are experiencing alarming rates of burnout. New case studies from the National Academy of Medicine’s (NAM) Action Collaborative on Clinician Well-Being and Resilience provide an overview of initiatives that reduce clinician burnout and support clinician well-being at organizations across the country.

The Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates (ECFMG®) is a member of the NAM Action Collaborative. Every year, ECFMG sponsors more than 11,000 foreign national physicians in J-1 visa status to participate in U.S. clinical training programs. These residents and fellows face the stresses of living and working in a foreign country in addition to the significant demands of their training programs. ECFMG and its Exchange Visitor Sponsorship Program (EVSP) are refining several initiatives to support these physicians and meet their unique needs.

“Our mission at ECFMG/FAIMER is to advance medical education and help improve health care worldwide,” said Dr. William W. Pinsky, President and CEO of ECFMG and Board Chair of FAIMER. “These case studies are important examples of how we can attend to the needs of clinicians, so they can attend to the needs of their patients.”

The NAM hopes that each case study serves as an idea-generating resource for leaders to implement programs and policies at their own organizations that address systemic factors that contribute to clinician burnout. Each case study is designed to help readers more fully understand the successes that organizations have had in implementing well-being programs.

Ohio State University Case Study

At Ohio State University, initiatives to address burnout and promote the well-being of medical, nursing, and health sciences students, trainees, and practicing clinicians are supported by the highest levels of leadership, including the university president. This case study explores the central coordination and alignment of well-being initiatives that span the university, as well as focused examples of programs and policies within the College of Nursing, College of Medicine, Department of Emergency Medicine Residency Program, and the Wexner Medical Center. The Ohio State University case study also explores the role of the University Chief Wellness Officer in advancing the professional fulfillment and well-being of the entire university community. Ohio State calculates a cumulative productivity net savings of over $15 million from wellness programming as well as a $3.65 return-on-investment for every dollar invested in wellness. Additional impact includes decreased anxiety, depression, stress, and suicidal intent among students, faculty, and staff as well as increased academic performance and levels of healthy lifestyle behaviors. University Chief Wellness Officer Dr. Bernadette Melnyk notes, “Leaders, faculty, and managers must ‘walk the talk’ and provide needed wellness resources as well as support for ‘grassroots’ initiatives. The return on and value of investment—including faculty, staff, and students who are happy, healthy, and engaged—will be well worth it.”

Virginia Mason Kirkland Medical Center Case Study

The Virginia Mason Kirkland Medical Center, an outpatient clinic located outside of Seattle in Kirkland, WA, utilizes an innovative, system-wide management method to improve patient care and safety by eliminating waste and inefficiencies. This management method is used to streamline repetitive aspects of care delivery, standardize clinical roles, and engage in continuous learning activities. Two pillars play a central role in improving wellbeing at the medical center: (1) Workflow optimization and (2) Promoting a culture of collegiality, respect, and innovation. Kirkland Medical Center relies heavily on the integration of clinical pharmacists into the care team to free up time for physicians, physician assistants, and advanced registered nurse practitioners to see patients with more complex conditions. Medical assistants help reduce clinician workload and manage administrative tasks, such as confirming patient medications, processing orders, and replying to patient portal messages. Mandatory “pauses” after every 3-5 patient visits allow clinicians to address documentation needs throughout the day, ensuring that all clinicians can leave for home within one hour of seeing their last patient. Surveys from the medical center show that 90% of Kirkland Medical Center’s non-clinician staff and 93% of clinicians are “content” or “engaged.”

The development of each case study was informed by expert interviews with professionals from each organization. The NAM conducted preliminary interviews, in-person site visits, extensive follow-up interviews, and document review for each case study. Additional case studies are forthcoming.

Read the full case studies: nam.edu/clinicianwellbeing/case-studies.

For questions, please contact the National Academy of Medicine at ClinicianWellBeing@nas.edu.

Hahnemann Closure: Release of Residents/Fellows from Contracts

At the July 19 bankruptcy court hearing on the closure of Hahnemann University Hospital, Hahnemann’s representatives reported that it would release residents and fellows from their contracts over the next few weeks. The anticipated release of trainees from their Hahnemann contracts represents tangible progress for trainees in transferring to new training programs.

ECFMG is following this developing situation closely and is continuing its outreach to other organizations, including the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) and the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME), to exchange information and to ensure timely and meaningful updates for Hahnemann’s trainees. Please monitor this webpage for updates. Residents and fellows training at Hahnemann under ECFMG J-1 visa sponsorship should contact their ECFMG case manager with any questions or concerns.

Additional information on Hahnemann’s closure is available on this website.

(published July 20, 2019, updated August 7, 2019)

ECFMG/FAIMER Awards $180,000 in Grants to Support Global Community Health Projects

The Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates (ECFMG®) and its Foundation for Advancement of International Medical Education and Research (FAIMER®) on Monday announced the award recipients from the 2019 Projects That Work competition. Each of the six projects will receive a $30,000 grant from ECFMG/FAIMER and the opportunity to send a representative to present the project on the world stage.

Launched in 2013, Projects That Work is an annual international competition that shines a spotlight on projects that have had a significant impact on the health of communities and the education of health professionals. This year, for the first time, ECFMG/FAIMER is awarding $180,000 to help recipients expand their work. A representative from each project will present his/her project at the 2019 conference of The Network: Towards Unity for Health (TUFH) to be held September 10-13 in Darwin, Australia.

“The projects are an important link between capacity building of health workers and impact on community health,” says William Burdick, MD, FAIMER’s Vice President for Education. “Our Projects That Work competition highlights the teamwork, innovation, and evaluation that characterize the best of these. We are committed to improving world health through education, and these outstanding projects help advance that important mission.”

For this year’s competition, ECFMG/FAIMER received 53 applications from around the world. Applications were reviewed by a distinguished panel of international reviewers with a wide variety of expertise in health professions education.

Attisso Komlan Dabla
Ending Preventable Deaths in Togo is one of six recipients of the 2019 Projects That Work Awards

The 2019 projects and representatives are:

Project: Chamas for Change: An Integrated Maternal and Child Peer Support and Micro-finance Model in Western Kenya
Country: Kenya
Representative: Laura Ruhl

Chamas for Change is a Community Health Volunteer (CHV)-led peer-support model that empowers women with health education and microfinance literacy during pregnancy and throughout their children’s infancy. Women participating in the program are engaged over three years. They join during the antenatal period and continue through the first and second years postpartum. The intervention combines best practices from women’s health groups and microfinance programs to improve maternal, newborn, and child health (MNCH) outcomes. Currently, nearly 2,000 women participate in 122 chamas (societies), led by 214 CHVs across the participating counties. A pilot study was conducted and showed a very positive impact on MNCH, and they are in the process of conducting a larger-scale validation study.

Project: ECO-SAN
Country: Rwanda
Representative: Ange Seminega

ECO-SAN was formed in May 2015 as a collaboration between the University of Rwanda and Water for People, to construct latrines for 17 selected families and at three schools for the Batwa, a socially marginalized group in Rwanda that face significant discrimination in education, housing, and employment. There is a high rate of diarrhea and pneumonia-related diseases among the Batwa, so this project aims to raise awareness about hygiene and sanitation through school education and monthly community meetings. The ECO-SAN project has taught thousands of community members proper hygiene techniques, how to properly take care of the latrines, and how to build new ones. By the end of the first year there was a sharp decrease in diarrhea and pneumonia-related cases.

Project: Ending Preventable Deaths in Togo
Country: Togo
Representative: Attisso Komlan Désiré Dabla

The Integrate Health program is aimed at raising the standard of emergency maternal care in under-served and rural areas of Togo, where maternal and child (under five) mortality rates are very high and many of these deaths are from diseases that are entirely treatable at very low costs. The program trains, equips, and supervises community health workers to provide home-based care, and trains traditional healers to help identify danger signs and refer sick women and children to appropriate care. It was piloted effectively in three rural communities and one peri-urban community from 2015 to 2018, and preliminary data indicates a 50 percent reduction in child mortality in those pilot communities.

Project: Improving Malawian Pediatric Assessment and Care through Training (IMPACT)
Country: Malawi
Representative: Charles Mulilima

The IMPACT project began in 2014 to fill the need of providing pre-service Emergency Triage, Assessment, and Treatment (ETAT) training to healthcare professionals in Malawi, ensuring effective patient care to even the most isolated regions. Pre-service ETAT training has been implemented at three universities to teach medical and nursing students early identification management of children with emergency conditions. IMPACT is responsible for the training of lecturers and mobilizing resources for student training. The project leaders also offer refresher training sessions for former students and have developed participant and facilitator manuals for pre-service use. With IMPACT, many new physicians are adequately trained in ETAT procedures and have the skills to perform quality in-patient pediatric care to reduce child mortality.

Project: The Mfangano Health Navigation Program
Country: Kenya
Representative: Robinson Okeyo

The Organic Health Response (OHR) and the Ekialo Kiona Center (EKC) developed the Health Navigation Program to sustainably strengthen maternal emergency care in the Mfangano Island region along the shores of Lake Victoria in Western Kenya. Approximately 30,000 people reside in these remote fishing communities, which are a two-hour boat ride from the mainland and have one of the highest maternal mortality rates in East Africa. Since the project began in 2014, OHR-EKC has trained more than 30 Health Navigators who have aided with nearly 550 emergency transfers between island facilities and mainland hospitals, with an average response time of 14.44 minutes. This project developed comprehensive referral protocols for two remote Ministry of Health facilities, has written safe birth plans for more than 310 pregnancies, and has implemented the region’s first 24-hour emergency boat service.

Project: Wax and Gold
Country: Ethiopia
Representative: Suzanne Hally

Wax and Gold, a non-profit, non-governmental organization, worked with the staff at Saint Paul Hospital Millennium Medical College in Addis Ababa to design a comprehensive program that trains existing hospital staff to provide on-site birthing care, attend all deliveries, and perform newborn stabilization and resuscitation. This Neonatal Advanced Life Support (NALS) team is selected from hospital staff members who have Bachelor of Science degrees and a minimum of two years of bedside patient care experience. Baseline data taken before and after the employment of full-time NALS teams show that neonatal mortality decreased from 3.53 percent to .33 percent, and rate of admission into the newborn intensive care unit decreased from 22.8 percent to 10.4 percent in two years.

Eric Nizeyimana of Rwanda, who originally was selected as a 2018 Projects That Work recipient, also will present at the 2019 Network: TUFH conference. His project is titled Community-Based Malaria Prevention Empowerment.

For more information on the Projects That Work competition, visit www.faimer.org/project-competitions/projects-that-work.html.

Hahnemann Closure: Information on GME Funding for Hahnemann Residents and Fellows

As plans for the closure of Hahnemann University Hospital in Philadelphia unfold, one important issue that must be resolved is the transfer of graduate medical education (GME) funding for physicians in training from Hahnemann to the other hospitals that accept these trainees. Since the issue of funding has received much attention in recent days, ECFMG is sharing the following basic information that may be helpful to Hahnemann residents and fellows as they seek to transition to training programs at other hospitals.

U.S. hospitals are reimbursed for the educational costs of training physicians by the U.S. Government, specifically by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS). Hospitals are reimbursed by CMS for each resident/fellow that they train, and each hospital is subject to a limit or “cap” on the number of trainees for which it receives reimbursement. Reimbursement for fellows is valued at 50% of the amount for residents.

When a hospital closes and its trainees are displaced, the trainees may continue their training at another hospital. In this case, the hospital that accepts a displaced resident or fellow is eligible to receive the entire CMS reimbursement for his/her position. At this time, Drexel University College of Medicine and Hahnemann University Hospital are negotiating the release of GME funding for Hahnemann’s residents and fellows. Once released, these funds will be available to move with trainees to their new training hospitals.

During these negotiations, Hahnemann residents and fellows should continue to look for positions in other training programs. They also should be aware of the following facts about GME funding for their positions:

  • Funds from CMS for the training of physicians are owned by the training hospital (in this case, Hahnemann), not by any affiliated medical school(s).
  • When a hospital closes and a trainee moves to another hospital, the funding for the trainee’s position moves with the trainee to the new training hospital.
  • When a trainee moves to a new training hospital, the funds that move with the trainee are for all remaining years in the trainee’s program.
  • A hospital is eligible to accept a displaced trainee and to receive his/her funding, even if the hospital is at or over its number of capped positions.

Please monitor this website for updates on this developing situation.

Additional information on Hahnemann’s closure is available on this website.

(published July 5, 2019, updated August 7, 2019)