ERAS 2022 Program Information for IMGs Now Available

Information for international medical students/graduates (IMGs) on the Electronic Residency Application Service® (ERAS®) 2022 application season is now available. If you plan to apply for U.S. residency positions that begin in July 2022, please visit the following sections of the ECFMG website for important information.

Most U.S. residency programs participate in ERAS. If you apply to participating programs, you must use ERAS to do so.

At the ERAS Support Services section of the ECFMG website, you will be able to:

  • See an overview of the Application Process and Timeline.
  • View instructions on how to obtain an ERAS Token, which will enable you to register at the MyERAS website of the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) and work on your residency applications.
  • Find instructions for submitting your supporting documents, such as letters of recommendation and transcripts.

ERAS Support Services will transmit your supporting documents to your ERAS application. All supporting documents must be submitted electronically. For more details, please refer to the “Upload Your Documents Now” e-mail that will be sent to you after you have registered at MyERAS.

Residency Tokens for the ERAS 2022 application season are expected to be available through ECFMG’s On-line Applicant Status and Information System (OASIS) beginning June 24, 2021. You can use a 2022 Token to register with AAMC’s MyERAS beginning June 24, 2021.

INPUT REQUESTED: Recommendations on the Transition to U.S. Graduate Medical Education

The Coalition for Physician Accountability, of which ECFMG|FAIMER is a member, has released its Initial Summary Report and Preliminary Recommendations of the Undergraduate Medical Education to Graduate Medical Education Review Committee (UGRC) and opened a 30-day public comment period, through May 26, seeking feedback on the report. The report offers 42 recommendations on how to improve the transition to U.S. graduate medical education for medical school graduates, teaching hospitals, and the patients they serve.

The mission of the Coalition is to advance health care and promote professional accountability by improving the quality, efficiency, and continuity of the education, training, and assessment of physicians. The Coalition’s members are the national organizations responsible for the oversight, education, and assessment of medical students and physicians throughout their medical careers.

ECFMG|FAIMER President and CEO William W. Pinsky, MD said he appreciated the important work of the Coalition and said the report includes important information for those entering graduate medical education, those involved in training the next generation of physicians, and the patients they serve.

“The report includes important information for house staff as well as patients,” Dr. Pinsky said. “There are issues specific to international medical graduates, both foreign nationals and U.S citizens. We are mindful of these specific issues and look forward to receiving your feedback.”

Before you begin the survey, we encourage you to review the supporting materials below to provide you with additional background information and context about the work of the UGRC to find solutions to identified challenges in the transition from undergraduate medical education (UME) to graduate medical education (GME).

1.) Initial Report and Preliminary Recommendations of the UGRC

2.) Glossary of Terms Used in UGRC Report, Recommendations and Survey

3.) Composite Ideal State of UME to GME Transition

To provide comments, please access the survey at https://www.research.net/r/UGRC. The deadline to submit your feedback to the UGRC’s preliminary recommendations is May 26. If you have questions or need assistance, please e-mail CoalitionUGRC@gmail.com.

Update: Pathways for ECFMG Certification for 2022 Match

Detailed Information, On-line Application for Pathways 1-5 Now Available

The 2022 Pathways application process for Pathways 1-5 is now open. Qualified international medical graduates (IMGs) who need to meet the clinical and communication skills requirements for ECFMG® Certification and who intend to participate in the 2022 National Resident Matching Program® (NRMP®) Main Residency Match® (The Match®) can apply to a Pathway to meet these requirements for ECFMG Certification and the requirements for Match participation.

The information available on ECFMG’s website includes:

As announced previously, ECFMG|FAIMER has added a sixth Pathway for 2022. The application process for Pathway 6 is expected to open in July. Preliminary information on Pathway 6 is available now, and additional details and instructions for meeting the requirements for Pathway 6 will be provided as soon as they are available. Please monitor the ECFMG website for the steps that applicants can take before July to prepare for Pathway 6.

Recognition of Non-Standard Training for Exchange Visitor (J-1) Physicians to Transition to the ACGME

Today, the Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates (ECFMG®), American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS®), and Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME®) announced a change in the process for recognition of non-standard training as it relates to the J-1 visa program administered by ECFMG. The term “non-standard training” refers to advanced clinical subspecialty disciplines or pathways for which there is no ACGME accreditation and/or ABMS Member Board certification available. Currently, all non-standard disciplines must be endorsed by an appropriate ABMS Member Board to be considered for J-1 sponsorship. The role of the ABMS Member Boards in providing this approval is detailed in federal regulation 22 CFR §62.27(e)(4)(i).

While the ABMS and its Member Boards have historically played a role in recognizing non-standard disciplines, ABMS initiated discussions several years ago with ECFMG about relinquishing that role. The rationale is that oversight of non-standard training does not fit with the mission of the ABMS and its Member Boards, which are responsible for certification of individuals; and, as such, the Member Boards are not structured to provide oversight of training programs and institutions. It was the consensus of the two organizations that the ACGME, as the primary national accreditor of graduate medical education programs and the institutions that sponsor them, is well suited to provide recognition of Sponsoring Institutions offering non-standard training opportunities to exchange visitor (J-1) physicians. At the request of the ECFMG and ABMS, the ACGME agreed to assume this responsibility. The ECFMG, ABMS, and ACGME jointly submitted a proposal to the United States Department of State (DOS) to substitute Sponsoring Institution “recognition” by the ACGME for the current ABMS endorsement role, with a transition period during which either organization’s recognition process may be honored based on criteria currently being developed. With publication of a Federal Register Notice on April 19, 2021, the DOS officially acknowledges the administrative change proposed by the ECFMG, ABMS, and ACGME.

Under the new model, the ACGME will offer recognition of Sponsoring Institutions that offer non-standard training programs for exchange visitor physicians. This recognition has been designed to ensure that institutions are providing appropriate oversight of the non-standard training program(s) they offer. The ACGME will not recognize individual non-standard training programs. A working group has been formed to develop Recognition Requirements and, upon ACGME Board approval of those Requirements, a new Recognition Committee will be formed to review and monitor institutions seeking to achieve and maintain this recognition.

Detailed information regarding the ACGME recognition process will be provided in the coming months, including notification when the proposed Recognition Requirements are posted on the ACGME website for a 45-day public comment period.

Questions regarding the release of the proposed Recognition Requirements should be directed to either Kathy Malloy, ACGME vice president, Accreditation Standards (312.755.5061 or kmalloy@acgme.org) or Tracy Wallowicz, assistant vice president, US Graduate Medical Education Services (215.823.2120 or twallowicz@ecfmg.org).

Questions regarding the recognition process should be directed to Paul Johnson, ACGME executive director, Institutional Accreditation (312.755.5005 or pjohnson@acgme.org).

Sincerely,

William W. Pinsky, MD, FAAP, FACC
President and Chief Executive Officer, ECFMG

Richard E. Hawkins, MD
President and Chief Executive Officer, ABMS

Thomas J. Nasca, MD, MACP
President and Chief Executive Officer, ACGME

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.

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.”

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.

Detailed Information on Pathways Application Process Now Available

On August 20, ECFMG|FAIMER published additional information on the new requirements for ECFMG Certification for the 2021 Match. The new information includes detailed instructions for applying to the pathways, which will allow qualified IMGs who have not passed Step 2 CS to meet the requirements for ECFMG Certification and the 2021 Match. Information on required documentation, application timing, fees, and a limited exceptions process also is available.

Potential applicants can use this information to preview the on-line application process and to prepare for the launch of the on-line pathways application at the end of August.

ECFMG|FAIMER Supports Coalition Recommendations for Fellowship Applicants in 2020-2021

On June 16, the Coalition for Physician Accountability, of which ECFMG|FAIMER is a member, released its report titled Recommendations for Away Rotations and Interviews for Graduate Medical Education Fellowship Applicants During the 2020-2021 Academic Year. The report builds on the Coalition’s work to address aspects of the transition from medical school to residency during COVID-19 (Coronavirus).

ECFMG|FAIMER supports the Coalition’s recommendations for the sub-specialty community, which address away rotations, in-person interviews, and general communications. More information is available in the full report.

The Coalition exemplifies 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.

ERAS 2021 Program Information for IMGs Now Available

Information for international medical students/graduates (IMGs) on the Electronic Residency Application Service® (ERAS®) 2021 application season is now available. If you plan to apply for U.S. residency positions* that begin in July 2021, visit the ERAS Support Services section of the ECFMG website for important information. Most U.S. residency programs participate in ERAS. If you apply to participating programs, you must use ERAS to do so.

At the ERAS Support Services section of the ECFMG website, you will be able to:

  • See an overview of the Application Process and Timeline.
  • View instructions on how to obtain an ERAS Token, which will enable you to register at the MyERAS website of the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) and work on your residency applications.
  • Find instructions for submitting your supporting documents, such as letters of recommendation and transcripts.

ERAS Support Services will transmit your supporting documents to your ERAS application. All supporting documents must be submitted electronically. For more details, please refer to the “Upload Your Documents Now” e-mail that will be sent to you via the MyERAS Message Center after you have registered at MyERAS.

Residency Tokens for the ERAS 2021 application season will be available through ECFMG’s On-line Applicant Status and Information System (OASIS) beginning June 23, 2020. You can use a 2021 Token to register with AAMC’s MyERAS beginning June 23, 2020.

*IMPORTANT NOTE: In order to be eligible to participate in the National Resident Matching Program® Main Residency Match®, which will be held in March 2021, IMGs must have a passing performance on the exams required for ECFMG Certification (Step 1 CK, Step 2 CK, and Step 2 CS). The United States Medical Licensing Examination® (USMLE®) program has suspended Step 2 CS exams for 12-18 months. ECFMG|FAIMER has published preliminary information on how qualified IMGs who have not passed Step 2 CS can meet the Requirements for ECFMG Certification. You can learn more on the ECFMG website at https://www.ecfmg.org/certification-requirements-2021-match/.

(posted June 9, 2020; updated June 19, 2020)