Facing pandemic-related challenges for a second year, international medical graduates (IMGs) remain resilient and competitive in pursuing graduate medical education (GME) in the United States, according to the results of the 2022 Main Residency Match® announced Friday by the National Resident Matching Program® (NRMP®).
A total of 7,670 IMGs obtained first-year residency positions in accredited U.S. GME programs in the 2022 Match, an increase of 162 (2.2%) from last year and up 294 (4.0%) compared to 2020, the last Match cycle not significantly impacted by the pandemic. Of the IMGs matched, 3,099 are U.S. citizens, down 53 compared to last year. The number of positions obtained by non-U.S. citizen IMGs is 4,571, up 215 compared to last year. The match rates for U.S.-citizen and non-U.S. citizen IMGs are 61.4% and 58.1%, respectively, both increasing compared to last year.
According to William W. Pinsky, MD, CEO of Intealth and President of the Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates (ECFMG®), IMGs are critical to U.S. health care. They account for about 25% of all physicians in accredited GME programs. They not only serve as vital members of health care teams at the institutions where they train, but also lend a diversity of thought and experience that is invaluable to U.S. health care.
“The results of recent Matches demonstrate that IMGs have not been deterred by the pandemic in seeking U.S. training and that they remain highly competitive,” Dr. Pinsky said. “It also demonstrates that ECFMG continues to ensure that the applicant pool of IMGs for the Match is ample, diverse, and highly qualified despite the challenges of the pandemic.”
Intealth is an integrated organization that advances the global health workforce. In the United States, ECFMG, a member of Intealth, assesses the readiness of IMGs to 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 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 and the Foundation for Advancement of International Medical Education and Research (FAIMER®) moved quickly to develop the Pathways to ensure that IMGs certified by ECFMG continue to have appropriate clinical and communication skills. Among IMGs who applied to U.S. GME programs beginning in 2022 through the Electronic Residency Application Service® (ERAS®) and who had satisfied ECFMG’s examination requirements, 62% met ECFMG’s requirements for clinical and communication skills through a Pathway.
“We have ensured the continuity and integrity of ECFMG’s program of certification and the vital service it provides to the U.S. public and the U.S. GME community,” Dr. Pinsky said. “The integrated efforts of ECFMG and FAIMER to develop the Pathways yielded an agile, successful solution. This is a great example of the power of Intealth to innovate and to address issues of importance to the health professions worldwide.”