News

Announcement Regarding Fee for Requests to Change Testing Regions for USMLE Step 1 and Step 2 CK

In March 2020, ECFMG|FAIMER elected to temporarily waive the fee associated with testing region changes for Step 1 and Step 2 Clinical Knowledge (CK) of the United States Medical Licensing Examination® (USMLE®) in order to give examinees flexibility in scheduling examinations during the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic. Since then, individuals and organizations have made significant adjustments in order to resume activities. Prometric indicates that it has resumed testing in more than 90 percent of its global test centers and operationalized COVID-19 safety protocols. As availability and administration of the COVID-19 vaccine increases around the world, ECFMG|FAIMER expects a corresponding decline in the direct impact of the pandemic and a reduction in examinee need for scheduling flexibility.

Effective April 1, 2021, ECFMG|FAIMER will reinstate the $85 fee to change testing regions for Step 1 and Step 2 CK. International medical students/graduates who are registered for Step 1 or Step 2 CK and are unable to take the exam in the testing region that they selected may request to change their testing region using Form 312. International test delivery surcharges also may apply. For more information, visit the ECFMG website.

Coalition for Physician Accountability Updates Recommendations on Away Rotations

The Coalition for Physician Accountability, of which ECFMG|FAIMER is a member, recently released updated recommendations on away rotations for medical education institutions of Liaison Committee on Medical Education (LCME)-accredited, U.S. Osteopathic, and non-U.S. medical school applicants for the 2020-21 and 2021-22 academic years. More information is available in the full report.

  • For the remainder of the 2020-21 academic year (ending June 30, 2021), as recommended in its May 2020 report, the working group recommends that away rotations be discouraged, except under certain circumstances.
  • For the 2021-22 academic year, the working group recommends that away rotations resume no earlier than August 1, 2021 and offers additional guidance.

ECFMG|FAIMER supports the Coalition’s recommendations, which are intended to add to, but not supersede, the independent judgment of a medical school, sponsoring institution, or residency program regarding the immediate needs of its patients and preparation of its learners.

ECFMG|FAIMER Will Offer Expanded Pathways for 2022 Match

ECFMG®|FAIMER® will expand its 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®). The pathways evaluate IMGs’ clinical and communication skills—skills that are critically important to participate in U.S. graduate medical education (GME) and to provide supervised patient care.

Until mid-March 2020, IMGs were required to pass Step 2 Clinical Skills (CS) of the United States Medical Licensing Examination® (USMLE®) to satisfy the clinical and communication skills requirements for ECFMG Certification. The USMLE program suspended Step 2 CS in March of last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequently indicated that it would take 12-18 months to bring back a modified Step 2 CS exam. In June 2020, ECFMG|FAIMER established five pathways to allow IMGs who had not passed Step 2 CS to meet ECFMG’s clinical and communication requirements and to participate in the 2021 Match (in March 2021). On January 26, 2021, the USMLE program announced that it had decided to discontinue the Step 2 CS exam.

In establishing the pathways, ECFMG|FAIMER has ensured that ECFMG Certification continues to perform the critical role for which the program was established more than 60 years ago—assessing the readiness of IMGs to enter U.S. GME. Clinical and communication skills are essential components of this readiness, and an evaluation of these skills always has been required for ECFMG Certification due to the variety in medical education systems at more than 3,000 medical schools around the world. 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.

The ECFMG|FAIMER pathways for the 2021 Match succeeded in producing an IMG applicant pool that is ample, diverse, and highly qualified. ECFMG expects to certify approximately 5,000 IMGs based on one of these pathways leading up to the July 1, 2021 start date for U.S. GME programs. Overall, more than 19,000 IMGs have applied to residency positions beginning in 2021 through the Electronic Residency Application Service® (ERAS®).

The expansion of the pathways currently underway for the 2022 Match ensures 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.

The pathways for IMGs planning to participate in the 2022 Match (in March 2022) will expand on the pathways that were established for the 2021 Match. The existing five pathways will continue to be offered with some modifications. ECFMG|FAIMER has identified an additional pathway for evaluation of clinical skills. As a result of the addition of this sixth pathway and changes to certain eligibility requirements, we expect more IMGs to be eligible to pursue a pathway for the 2022 Match. Detailed information on eligibility is not yet available; please monitor the ECFMG website since we expect to publish guidelines very soon.

Consistent with the requirements for the existing pathways, IMGs who pursue one of the six pathways for the 2022 Match will be required to pass the Occupational English Test (OET) Medicine to satisfy pathway requirements. OET Medicine is designed specifically for physicians, in consultation with physicians. The test assesses the health care-specific English language competency of physicians. It emphasizes the type of language physicians will need to communicate effectively in a clinical setting with peers and patients, including the ability to show empathy and to break down complex medical terminology and procedures into simpler language.

Who Should Use the Pathways?

The six pathways for the 2022 Match are intended for IMGs who need to meet the clinical and communication skills requirements for ECFMG Certification and who plan to participate in the 2022 Match (in March 2022).

IMGs who applied to a pathway for the 2021 Match and whose 2021 application was rejected can reapply to a pathway for the 2022 Match. Please see “Important Information for 2021 Pathways Applicants,” below.

The following individuals already have satisfied the clinical and communication skills requirements for ECFMG Certification and therefore do not need to pursue a pathway to meet these requirements or to participate in the 2022 Match:

  • IMGs who have a passing performance on Step 2 CS that is valid for ECFMG Certification,
  • IMGs who are certified by ECFMG, and
  • IMGs with an approved pathways 2021 application.

 Application to the pathways for the 2022 Match is not yet available. Please monitor the ECFMG website for information on the availability of the on-line application for the expanded pathways.

Important Information for 2021 Pathways Applicants

If your pathway application for the 2021 Match is approved and you do not enter U.S. GME in 2021, you will not be required to apply for a pathway for the 2022 Match. Your previously accepted pathway application will remain valid for the 2022 Match.

If you applied to a pathway for the 2021 Match and your application is rejected, you can pursue a pathway for the 2022 Match, provided you meet all eligibility requirements, but you will be required to reapply. Please monitor the ECFMG website for information on the timeline to reapply.

More Information on Pathways for 2022 Match

ECFMG|FAIMER is developing detailed information on eligibility and application procedures, including documentation requirements. ECFMG also is preparing the on-line pathways application to accept applications from IMGs who plan to participate in the 2022 Match. Please monitor the ECFMG website, since updates will be posted as they become available.

Please contact the USMLE Program with any questions on its decision to discontinue Step 2 CS and any other USMLE-related inquiries.

USMLE Program Discontinues Step 2 CS

The United States Medical Licensing Examination® (USMLE®) program announced today that it has discontinued work to relaunch a modified Step 2 Clinical Skills (CS) examination. In the spring of 2020, the USMLE program suspended Step 2 CS due to the COVID-19 pandemic and announced that it would take 12-18 months to bring back a modified Step 2 CS exam. In today’s announcement, the USMLE program indicated that it has no plans to bring back Step 2 CS and that it would use this change in direction to take additional time to partner with the medical education and medical board community to better develop innovative ways to assess the breadth of clinical skills in medicine. Please contact the USMLE Program with any questions on this decision and with any other USMLE-related inquiries.

Prior to the suspension of Step 2 CS, IMGs were required to pass this exam to meet the clinical and communication skills requirements for ECFMG Certification and to pursue U.S. graduate medical education (GME). Today, ECFMG®|FAIMER® announced that it is expanding its pathways that allow qualified IMGs to meet these requirements for ECFMG Certification and to continue to pursue U.S. GME. Detailed information is under development and will be posted on ECFMG’s website very soon. Please monitor the 2022 pathways web page on the ECFMG website for the latest information.

Step 1 – Delay in Score Reporting

Most Step 1 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 May 3, 2021.

If you need to receive Step 1 scores before July 7, 2021, the United States Medical Licensing Examination® (USMLE®) program recommends that you take the exam before May 3, 2021.

The target date for reporting Step 1 scores for most examinees testing the week of May 3, 2021 through mid-June 2021 will be Wednesday, July 7, 2021.

Examinees should monitor the USMLE website for the latest information.

ECFMG Closing in Observance of New Year’s Holiday

ECFMG will close in observance of the New Year’s holiday at 2:00 p.m., Eastern Time (ET), in the United States, on Thursday, December 31, 2020. We will be unavailable for calls and e-mails until we reopen at 9:00 a.m., ET, on Monday, January 4, 2021.

Please also note that ECFMG Applicant Information Services representatives will not be available by telephone at (215) 386-5900 on Thursday, December 31.

ECFMG Closing in Observance of Christmas Holiday

ECFMG will close in observance of the Christmas holiday at 2:00 p.m., Eastern Time (ET), in the United States, on Wednesday, December 23. We will be unavailable for calls and e-mails until we reopen at 9:00 a.m., ET, on Monday, December 28.

Please also note that ECFMG Applicant Information Services representatives will not be available by telephone at (215) 386-5900 on Wednesday, December 23.

Fee Increases for 2021

Effective January 1, 2021, fees for the following ECFMG applications/service requests will increase:

  • The fee for Application for ECFMG Certification will be $150.
  • The examination fees for United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE) Step 1 and Step 2 Clinical Knowledge (CK) will be $975 for each exam registration.
  • The fee for a Certification Verification Service (CVS) request will be $60.
  • The fee for an application for J-1 visa sponsorship will be $360.
  • The fee to establish an Electronic Portfolio of International Credentials (EPICSM) account and confirm identity will be $130.
  • The fee to verify a credential through EPIC will be $100.
  • The fee to request an EPIC Report will be $50.
    • For credentials submitted to EPIC on or after January 10, 2018, the first report requested for each credential will remain free.
    • For credentials submitted to EPIC prior to January 10, 2018, the first report requested for each credential will remain $15.
    • For a previously verified credential, reports will be $50.

The new fees will be assessed for all applications/requests submitted to ECFMG on or after January 1, 2021 (Eastern Time in the United States). All fees are listed in U.S. dollars.

For more information on the fees associated with applying for ECFMG Certification and for USMLE Step 1 and Step 2 CK, refer to the ECFMG 2021 Information Booklet and the Fees page of the ECFMG website.

For more information on the fees associated with EPIC, refer to the Fees page on the EPIC website.

ECFMG Closing in Observance of Thanksgiving

ECFMG will close in observance of the Thanksgiving holiday at 2:00 p.m. on Wednesday, November 25. We will be unavailable for calls and e-mails until we re-open at 9:00 a.m. on Monday, November 30. All times are calculated using Eastern Time in the United States.

Please also note that ECFMG Applicant Information Services representatives will not be available by telephone at (215) 386-5900 on Wednesday, November 25.