FAIMER Celebrating 20th Anniversary with Virtual Conference Oct. 20-22 Featuring Dr. Abraham Verghese

The Foundation for Advancement of International Medical Education and Research (FAIMER) is celebrating 20 years of accomplishments and service to world health with a virtual conference from October 20-22. Dr. Abraham Verghese, the noted physician and best-selling author, will provide the keynote address during the free three-day event. For more information and to register, please visit: https://cvent.me/qMoN9L.

Titled Celebrating 20 Years of FAIMER: Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow, the virtual conference is of interest to medical and health professions educators; international medical students; medical regulatory authority officials; those interested in improving world health through education; and anyone who has participated or is interested in FAIMER programs and initiatives, including the thousands of FAIMER Fellows worldwide.

The first day of the conference will focus on FAIMER’s history and will feature Dr. John Norcini, who was FAIMER’s President from its founding until 2019; Dr. Page S. Morahan, Founding Co-Director of the International FAIMER Institute; and Dr. James A. Hallock, President Emeritus of ECFMG and a FAIMER Senior Scholar.

The conference’s second day will feature Dr. Verghese, who will talk about his experiences as an international medical graduate and his career in medical education. In addition, the directors of FAIMER’s Regional Institutes in Chile, China, Egypt, India, and Indonesia will highlight their histories and accomplishments.

The third day of the conference will look forward to FAIMER’s future, including the organization’s new strategic plan offering exciting new curricula for health professions educators, expanding its Regional Institutes in Africa, developing new assessment tools, and creating additional data resources for the global health care community. Speakers for the third day will include Dr. Jeannette Mladenovic, President of FAIMER; Dr. William W. Pinsky, President and CEO of ECFMG|FAIMER and Chair of the FAIMER Board of Trustees; and Dr. Francis Omaswa, Executive Director of the African Centre for Global Health and Social Transformation (ACHEST).

We invite you to join us in celebrating two decades of progress and accomplishments and looking forward to a bright future for FAIMER.

ECFMG|FAIMER Named Best Place to Work in Greater Philadelphia

The Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates | Foundation for Advancement of International Medical Education and Research (ECFMG®|FAIMER®) has been named a Best Place to Work in the Greater Philadelphia Region for 2021 by the Philadelphia Business Journal.

Best Places to Work logoECFMG|FAIMER President and CEO William W. Pinsky, MD said the organization, which serves global communities of health professions providers, educators, regulators, and researchers, had to pivot several times over the past year to address the challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic, and ECFMG|FAIMER employees responded.

“I am proud of this honor, especially after such a challenging year,” said Dr. Pinsky. “Our employees rose to the occasion and faced these challenges with a high level of dedication, resilience, and innovation. I am grateful for the team we have here at ECFMG|FAIMER.”

Employees from each nominated company were asked to complete an online survey administered by Quantum Workplace that takes into consideration compensation, benefits, and trust in senior leadership. Responses from each completed survey were compiled and evaluated, companies were ranked, and winners were chosen in each size category by their composite score. The 2021 list includes 66 companies from around the region. ECFMG|FAIMER is recognized in the large companies category (100-499 employees).

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.

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.

ECFMG|FAIMER Supports Recommendations for Medical School Graduates Entering PGY-1 Residency Positions in Coming Months

On May 18, the Coalition for Physician Accountability, of which ECFMG®|FAIMER® is a member, released the final report of its work group on Learner Transitions from Medical Schools to Residency Programs in 2020. The report provides important and timely recommendations to mitigate the effects of pandemic-related disruption in the transition from undergraduate medical education to graduate medical education (GME) for more than 30,000 medical school graduates who will begin first-year (PGY-1) residency positions in the United States in the coming months.

ECFMG|FAIMER was represented on the work group, which considered the entire population of incoming PGY-1 residents, including more than 7,000 international medical graduates (IMGs), and the institutions and programs where they will train. The recommendations acknowledge that the pandemic may present elevated risks to the well-being of all PGY-1 residents and that IMGs may face unique challenges.

ECFMG|FAIMER strongly endorses the report’s recommendations, which include:

  • Accommodation of delayed arrival at residency programs due to reasons that include international travel, health concerns, visa issues, or licensure delays
  • Orientation to infection protection, including the provision of personal protective equipment and training in its use
  • Augmented relocation assistance in the form of referrals for services such as health care, housing, legal assistance, transportation, and child care
  • Augmented assessment and monitoring of resident well-being throughout the academic year
  • Enhanced cultural and community support for IMGs, in recognition of their increased risk for social isolation and other unique circumstances

For complete information, please read the final report.

As the J-1 visa sponsor for all foreign national physicians in U.S. GME, ECFMG|FAIMER is committed to the well-being of these physicians as they train in the United States. We welcome the Coalition’s coordinated and collaborative approach to protect all learners, as well as the broader health care workforce, patients, and the public.

ECFMG|FAIMER Endorses Recommendations and Resources for Medical Students, Trainees, and Physicians during COVID-19

On May 11, the Coalition for Physician Accountability, of which ECFMG®|FAIMER® is a member, released final reports from two work groups that examined critical issues facing medical students, residents, medical educators, and medical regulators during the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic.

ECFMG|FAIMER membership on the work groups represented the unique needs and perspectives of international medical students/graduates (IMGs). ECFMG|FAIMER plays key roles in the transition of IMGs from undergraduate medical education to U.S. graduate medical education (GME)—certifying the readiness of IMGs to enter U.S. GME; serving as the designated “Dean’s Office” for IMGs using the Electronic Residency Application Service® (ERAS®) to apply to U.S. GME programs; and sponsoring foreign national physicians for the J-1 visa to participate in such programs. ECFMG|FAIMER also is a leading expert on the medical credentials issued to physicians by medical schools and other institutions around the world. These credentials are a core component of establishing the qualifications of physicians.

ECFMG|FAIMER strongly endorses the work groups’ recommendations.

  • Medical Students in the Class of 2021: Moving Across Institutions for Post Graduate Training

The current health care crisis presents new challenges for medical students/graduates, trainees, and U.S. GME programs. This work group considered three major issues in preparation for the 2020-2021 residency cycle during the COVID-19 pandemic: away rotations, in-person interviews for residency, and the ERAS timeline. The recommendations, detailed in the following documents, will provide a consistent approach to disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, greatly reducing unnecessary confusion, stress, and inequity among students, and promoting a more successful residency selection process for all.

  • Maintaining Quality and Safety Standards Amid COVID-19

The pandemic has created a public health emergency that is rapidly altering the provision of health care services across the country. Physicians and other clinicians have responded with offers to provide care outside of their previously licensed jurisdiction and beyond their typical scope of practice. This work group has developed the following guidance and resources for the deployment of physicians, physicians in training (interns, residents, and fellows), and retired or inactive physicians, to ensure the safe delivery of quality clinical care during this unprecedented emergency.

The Coalition work groups exemplify the collaboration required to create the best solutions for all stakeholders impacted by the pandemic. ECFMG|FAIMER looks forward to continuing to join with Coalition members and other partners to find those solutions.

ECFMG|FAIMER Assisting New Jersey in Bolstering COVID-19 Physician Workforce

ECFMG|FAIMER will assist the State of New Jersey by confirming the authenticity of certain credential information of internationally licensed physicians seeking temporary medical licensure to help in New Jersey’s fight against the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic. New Jersey announced its program to reinforce the state’s health workforce in a press release today.

ECFMG|FAIMER is the leading expert on the medical education and credentialing of physicians around the world. “During this public health crisis, we are proud to lend our expertise to the State of New Jersey,” said ECFMG|FAIMER President and CEO William W. Pinsky, MD. “We stand ready to assist other states and organizations in this time of need.”

More information on New Jersey’s program and an on-line portal for physicians who wish to register are available here. More information about ECFMG|FAIMER activities in response to the pandemic is available on this website.

ECFMG/FAIMER Boards Elect New Trustees

The Boards of the Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates (ECFMG®) and its Foundation for Advancement of International Medical Education and Research (FAIMER®) elected six new trustees at their final meeting of the year on December 5. ECFMG/FAIMER trustees serve at-large, and five of the new trustees will serve four-year terms.

As part of the election, ECFMG/FAIMER established a new trustee position reserved for a U.S. resident or fellow who is an international medical graduate (IMG). A sixth new trustee was elected to this position, which is a voting member of the Boards with a two-year term.

“We are very pleased to welcome these six accomplished individuals to our Boards,” said William W. Pinsky, M.D., President and CEO of ECFMG and Board Chair of FAIMER. Andrew T. Filak Jr., M.D., Chair of the ECFMG Board of Trustees, continued: “They all bring significant skills and experience to the stewardship of ECFMG/FAIMER as we explore new pathways to improve health care and medical education worldwide. The addition of the IMG resident/fellow perspective to our governance will be invaluable to enhancing our service to IMGs and their U.S. training programs.”

The new trustees are:

Cheryll Albold, Ph.D., MS. Ed.
Dr. Albold is an Assistant Professor of Medical Education at the Mayo Clinic College of Medicine and Science and the Designated Institutional Administrator for the Mayo Clinic School of Graduate Medical Education. In partnership with the Designated Institutional Official, she provides leadership and oversight for sponsoring institution and program accreditation activities governing over 300 residency and fellowship programs that enroll more than 1,800 trainees at campuses in Minnesota, Arizona, Florida, and the Mayo Clinic Health System. She has over 25 years of professional experience in a wide variety of education settings. Dr. Albold received both a Ph.D. degree in educational studies (higher education) and a certificate in educational research, measurement, and evaluation from the University of North Carolina-Greensboro, and a master’s degree in counseling and student professional services from Fordham University.

Donald Craig Brater, M.D.
Dr. Brater is the Vice President of Programs at the Walther Cancer Foundation and President of the Regenstrief Foundation, both of which are based in Indianapolis. He served as the ninth dean of the Indiana University School of Medicine for 13 years before retiring from that position in 2013, at which time he was presented with the university’s highest honor, The University Medal, for his visionary leadership. He serves as a board member of BioCrossroads and is President of the Alliance for Academic Internal Medicine. He also served on the Editorial Board for the American Journal of Medicine and served on the National Institutes of Health National Advisory Council for Complementary and Alternative Medicine. Dr. Brater received a Bachelor of Arts in chemistry and a Doctor of Medicine from Duke University.

Anne Marie Irani, M.D.
Dr. Irani is Emerita Professor of Pediatrics and Internal Medicine in the Division of Pediatric Allergy and Immunology at Virginia Commonwealth University and a U.S. Medical Expert in the Department of Medical Affairs within the Research and Development Section at GlaxoSmithKline. She currently serves as the Vice Chair of the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education Residency Review Committee for Allergy and Immunology. She was the Co-Director of the Allergy/Immunology training program at Virginia Commonwealth University for 26 years. She has served on the Editorial Board of The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology; as an Associate Editor of the Annals of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology; and is the current secretary treasurer for the Board of Directors of the American Board of Medical Specialties. Dr. Irani graduated from the American University of Beirut in Lebanon.

Prerna Mona Khanna, M.D., M.P.H.
Dr. Khanna is a triple board-certified medical doctor, Emmy Award-winning multi-platform medical journalist, and an acclaimed humanitarian and disaster volunteer. She is the medical director of a thriving occupational medicine practice in Palm Springs, CA; a visiting clinical associate professor at her alma mater, the University of Illinois; and an affiliate of the Center for Global Health at the university. Her humanitarian work after numerous natural disasters such as hurricanes, earthquakes, and tsunamis has brought her overseas aid work to more than 14 countries. Dr. Khanna is a lifelong advocate of patient empowerment through consumer education, and has been recognized for dedicating thousands of hours since her student days in medical school to educating the public through speaking events, television broadcasts, and publications. Dr. Khanna earned her master’s degree in public health from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, her M.D. degree from the University of Illinois, and a Bachelor of Science in journalism from Northwestern University.

John Ogunkeye
John Ogunkeye is Chief Financial and Administrative Officer and Executive Vice President of Global Services for the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME). Before joining ACGME, John held senior leadership positions at Johns Hopkins Medicine, Sidney Kimmel Medical College of Thomas Jefferson University, and the University of Chicago Medical Center. In his role at ACGME, John is responsible for managing the organization’s administrative and financial systems as well as oversight of international consultations to governmental agencies in the evaluation and the design of medical education systems. Growing up the son of a diplomat, John lived in many countries, which drove his passion for working in the international arena. John holds Master of Science degrees in biology and health care administration.

Beatriz Wills, M.D. (IMG Resident/Fellow Trustee)
Dr. Wills is a hematology oncology fellow at Memorial Sloan Kettering in New York City. Previously, she was an internal medicine resident in the Osler Internal Medicine Residency Program at Johns Hopkins Medicine in Baltimore, Maryland. A resident of Bogota, Colombia, she is studying on a J-1 visa sponsored by ECFMG. Dr. Wills completed medical school at Los Andes University in Colombia. Prior to her residency with Osler, she completed a post-doctoral research fellowship in Pulmonary and Critical Care at Johns Hopkins and has several journal publications to her credit. Her initial interest in medicine was influenced by her family, which includes several doctors. She is passionate about immunotherapy and hematologic malignancies, and aspires to become a world leader in oncology and medical education.

The December 5 meeting also was the last for Anne M. Murphy, J.D. and Daniel V. Schidlow, M.D., who are stepping down from the Boards. “I would like to thank Ms. Murphy and Dr. Schidlow for their years of dedication to ECFMG and FAIMER,” Dr. Filak said. “Their experience and expertise have helped lead us through a time of growth and change, and we are grateful for their service.”

ECFMG/FAIMER Convenes Stakeholders to Discuss Impact of Hahnemann University Hospital Closure

The Boards of the Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates (ECFMG®) and its Foundation for Advancement of International Medical Education and Research (FAIMER®) held a biannual Stakeholder Engagement Forum on Friday. The Forum explored the impact of the closure of Philadelphia-based Hahnemann University Hospital, which occurred earlier this year and was the largest permanent displacement of medical trainees in U.S. history.

Doctor holding sign that reads "Closed"The closure of Hahnemann displaced about 570 medical residents and fellows, including 55 international physicians sponsored by ECFMG to train on J-1 visas. According to Dr. William W. Pinsky, President and CEO of ECFMG and Board Chair of FAIMER, several of the organizations represented at the Stakeholder Engagement Forum joined in a coordinated effort to assist the displaced trainees.

“The closing of Hahnemann University Hospital had a significant impact on the city of Philadelphia, especially its patients. It also was a wake-up call for our nation,” Dr. Pinsky said. “Given the economics of health care in the United States, such incidents are likely to happen again. By engaging with other leading organizations like those represented here today, we will be better prepared to coordinate efforts to protect the interests of patients and the physicians in training who are a vital part of our physician workforce.”

Forum participants included John Andrews, M.D., Vice President, GME Innovation, American Medical Association; David Johnson, Chief Assessment Officer, Federation of State Medical Boards; David Kountz, M.D., Board of Directors, Alliance of Independent Academic Medical Centers; John Prescott, M.D., Chief Academic Officer, Association of American Medical Colleges; and Kevin Weiss, M.D., MPH, Chief Sponsoring Institutions and Clinical Learning Environment Officer, Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education. They joined ECFMG/FAIMER Trustees for the half-day session.

Held twice annually in Philadelphia, the Stakeholder Engagement Forums offer the opportunity for industry thought leaders to share perspectives on emerging trends and pressing issues and to strengthen partnerships among organizations involved in medical education and health care worldwide.

Dr. Pinsky Conducts National Media Tour with Renowned Forensic Pathologist

ECFMG President and CEO William W. Pinsky, M.D., on October 24 joined Bennet Omalu, M.D., the Nigerian-born forensic pathologist who was the subject of the 2015 film Concussion, for a television and radio tour of cities nationwide to talk about the importance of international medical graduates (IMGs) to health care in the United States.

William W. Pinsky & Bennet Omalu

From a studio in New York City, Drs. Pinsky and Omalu did 24 interviews via satellite with television and radio stations in 19 cities in 17 different states, including such large-market cities as Dallas, Denver, Minneapolis, Orlando, Pittsburgh, Raleigh, St. Louis, and Tampa.

During the interviews, Dr. Omalu talked about his path from medical school in Nigeria to being one of the eminent forensic pathologists in the United States. Dr. Pinsky discussed the important contributions that physicians, such as Dr. Omalu, make to health care in the nation.

Dr. Omalu identified and named the disease Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE), which results from repeated concussions suffered by athletes, including football players. He is the President and Medical Director of Bennet Omalu Pathology and author of the memoir Truth Doesn’t Have a Side, which was published in 2017 by Zondervan, HarperCollins.

The television and radio tour was part of Strategic Initiative 9 of the ECFMG/FAIMER strategic plan to be a thought leader and to serve as an active advocate for IMGs. In recent months, the Communications Department paired Dr. Pinsky with several IMGs to talk about the important contributions they make to U.S. health care, especially amidst a growing national physician shortage.

Dr. Pinsky did a video interview and opinion pieces in cardiology trade publications with Mandeep R. Mehra, M.D., a renowned cardiologist and medical director of the Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Vascular Center; a widely published press release with Archana Chatterjee, M.D., a pediatric infectious disease specialist in South Dakota; and a radio media tour with Beatriz Wills, M.D. of Colombia, an internist at Johns Hopkins Medical Center.

The television and radio tour with Dr. Omalu included interviews with the following media outlets (links to available interviews are included below):

  • KCTU, Wichita-Hutchinson, KS
  • KETV, Omaha, NE
  • KRMG-AM/FM, Tulsa, OK
  • WYRQ-FM, Minneapolis, MN
  • Daybreak USA, IRN/USA Radio
  • Health Professional Radio
  • WXGM-FM, Norfolk-Portsmouth, VA
  • KTXA, Dallas-Ft. Worth, TX
  • WALA, Mobile-Pensacola, FL
  • WTWO, Terre Haute, IN
  • WHIG, Raleigh, NC
  • Spectrum News 13, Orlando, FL
  • KPLR, St. Louis, MO
  • KFKA-AM, Denver, CO (interview begins at 8:18)
  • WISR-AM, Pittsburgh, PA
  • News Around America
  • SNN 6, Tampa, FL
  • WKUL-FM, Birmingham, AL
  • Park City TV, Salt Lake City, UT
  • WFIF-AM, Hartford-New Haven, CT
  • Mississippi Hometown, Jackson, MS
  • Louisiana Hometown, New Orleans, LA
  • Sports Byline USA