News

ECFMG Partners with Other Leading Organizations to Launch Data Commons, LLC

ECFMG and other leading national physician education and assessment organizations announced today their partnership to launch the Data Commons, LLC. The Data Commons, an information-sharing company, is developing a system that could revolutionize the way in which researchers, policy makers, analysts, and other data users access and analyze data on physicians and other health care professionals.

The core of this new system is a secure data hub that will allow multiple organizations to make available selected information from their individual databases. The ability to access data more efficiently, and the ability to combine data sets in new ways, will have a positive impact on research efforts.

ECFMG is pleased to play a fundamental role in this initiative that has the potential to advance scientific knowledge, enhance patient safety, and improve medical quality, all of which are essential to furthering ECFMG’s mission to promote quality health care.

To learn more, read the Data Commons press release and explore the Data Commons website at www.mydatacommons.org.

ECFMG Launches EPIC—A Powerful New Tool for the World’s Physicians and Those Evaluating Their Credentials

Today, ECFMG launched a powerful and innovative tool for the world’s physicians and the entities worldwide responsible for evaluating physician credentials. The Electronic Portfolio of International Credentials (EPIC℠) enables physicians to build a digital career portfolio of primary-source verified medical credentials and to request those credentials, and reports verifying their authenticity, for any organization, anywhere in the world.

EPIC enables physicians to:

  • upload credentials related to their medical education, training, and registration/licensure
  • have those credentials primary-source verified by ECFMG
  • request to have reports verifying the authenticity of those credentials sent electronically to any organization, anywhere in the world
  • maintain a web-based portfolio of credentials that is convenient, secure, and affordable

For the world’s medical regulatory authorities, hospitals, medical schools, and training programs that receive these reports, EPIC is a powerful new tool in fulfilling their missions to serve and protect their constituents. EPIC provides these organizations with:

  • the confidence of knowing the authenticity of a physician’s credentials has been verified using ECFMG’s rigorous and internationally respected primary-source verification process
  • the security of receiving verifications directly from ECFMG
  • the ability to assure constituents and the public that their vetting process is world-class—that they are employing the best practice of primary-source verification
  • access to credentials and reports at no cost

For more than 25 years, ECFMG has employed primary-source verification of physician credentials, a process that includes verifying the authenticity of a document directly with the institution that issued it. ECFMG’s expertise in this area has long been available to organizations through its Certification Program and the ECFMG International Credentials Services (EICS). For the first time, EPIC makes this service available to individual physicians.

For more information or to start using EPIC, visit the EPIC website at http://www.ecfmgepic.org.

Announcement Regarding ERAS 2013 Token Issuance

Please note that you can no longer use ECFMG’s OASIS to request a Token for the ERAS 2013 season. If a program requests you to submit an ERAS application for the 2013 season and you do not already have a 2013 Token, please call (215) 966-3520 to reach an ERAS Support Services representative to request a 2013 Token.

For the remainder of the ERAS 2013 season, new users will only be able to register with AAMC’s MyERAS website on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m., Eastern Time in the United States. Once registered, MyERAS users will have access to MyERAS 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, except for periods of site maintenance.

If you plan to apply to a residency position that starts on July 1, 2014, you can request a 2014 Token via ECFMG’s OASIS starting at the end of June, 2013.

USMLE Step 1 Score Reporting

Most score reporting of Step 1 results occurs within four weeks of testing. However, because of necessary modifications to the test item pool, there will be a delay in reporting for some examinees testing beginning the week of May 13th. The target date for reporting Step 1 scores for most examinees testing the week of May 13th through late June will be Wednesday, July 10, 2013. For examinees whose circumstances require that they receive Step 1 scores before July 10, it is recommended that they take Step 1 no later than May 10, 2013.

Examinees should monitor the USMLE website for the latest information.

Changes to USMLE Procedures for Reporting Scores: Elimination of the 2-digit Score on or about April 1, 2013

As previously reported in 2011, the USMLE® program began the process of eliminating the reporting of results on the 2-digit score scale to parties other than the examinee and any state licensing authority to which the examinee sends results. This process began on July 1, 2011 with elimination of 2-digit scores from USMLE transcripts reported through the Electronic Residency Application Service (ERAS®).

The USMLE program will extend this change in reporting to include all score recipients (e.g., examinees, state medical boards). This means that scores on the 2-digit scale will no longer be calculated or reported. The USMLE Program expects to eliminate the 2-digit score on or about April 1, 2013. This change pertains to the Step 1, Step 2 Clinical Knowledge (CK), and Step 3 examinations only; Step 2 Clinical Skills (CS) will continue to be reported as pass or fail with no numeric score.

The full announcement is available on the USMLE website.

More about the 2-digit Score and Its Elimination

The following may be helpful in understanding the change in USMLE procedures for reporting scores, described above.

Why is the USMLE Program eliminating the 2-digit score?
The 2-digit score can be subject to misinterpretation. Some have interpreted it as a percentile (an indication of how an examinee’s performance compares to the performance of other examinees who took the same exam administration). Others have interpreted it as a percentage (an indication of how many questions an examinee answered correctly during an exam administration). The 2-digit score is neither of these things.

Additionally, unlike the 3-digit score, the 2-digit score does not allow reasonable comparisons over time. This may create challenges for score users that attempt to compare 2-digit scores that span several years. To eliminate the misuse of and confusion surrounding the 2-digit scale, the USMLE Composite Committee, the body that governs USMLE, decided that it should no longer be calculated or reported. Additional information about the relationship between the 2-digit and 3-digit score scales is available on the USMLE website.

Does this change apply to all USMLE examinations?
This change applies to Step 1, Step 2 CK and Step 3 only, since numeric scores are reported for these exams. It does not apply to Step 2 CS. Performance on Step 2 CS will continue to be reported as pass or fail with no numeric score.

Once this change takes effect, who will have access to 2-digit scores?
No one will have access to 2-digit scores. Beginning on the effective date of this change:

  • The USMLE Program will no longer report 2-digit scores to examinees on their exam score reports.
  • Two-digit scores will not be reported to any third parties via USMLE transcripts. This means that recipients of USMLE transcripts, including graduate medical education programs and state medical boards in the United States, will not receive 2-digit scores. This is true for all USMLE exam administrations, regardless of when the exam administration took place and regardless of whether a 2-digit score was reported previously.
  • Two-digit scores will no longer be calculated. As a result, the National Board of Medical Examiners® (NBME®), the entity responsible for scoring USMLE exams, will not be able to provide 2-digit scores. The entities responsible for registering examinees for USMLE and reporting their scores, including ECFMG and the Federation of State Medical Boards (FSMB), will not be able to provide 2-digit scores.

Why does the USMLE transcript I requested in April 2013 look different from the transcript I requested in December 2012, when it includes results for the same exam administration(s)?
Effective on or about April 1, 2013, the USMLE Program will stop calculating and reporting 2-digit scores. Two-digit scores reported before the effective date of this change will no longer be reported. As a result, a transcript issued prior to the effective date will include 2-digit scores for administrations of Step 1, Step 2 CK, and Step 3, while a transcript issued after the effective date will include only 3-digit scores for the same exam administrations.

Understanding the 3-digit Score

The elimination of the 2-digit score does not change the reporting or interpretation of results on the 3-digit scale. While the following information is not new, it may be helpful in understanding the 3-digit score.

What is the 3-digit score?
Since its beginning in the 1990s, the USMLE Program has reported scores for Step 1, Step 2 CK, and Step 3 on a 3-digit scale. When an examinee tests, the number of items the examinee answers correctly is converted to a score on the 3-digit scale. The 3-digit scale is considered the primary score reporting scale for USMLE exams.

What are the minimum passing scores for the exams?
The USMLE Program recommends a minimum passing level of proficiency for each exam. For Step 1, Step 2 CK, and Step 3, the USMLE Program sets a minimum passing score on the 3-digit scale. For the current minimum passing scores, visit Scores & Transcripts on the USMLE website.

The USMLE Program reviews the minimum passing level for each exam every three to four years. Since this process may result in changes, the minimum passing score for a given exam, expressed on the 3-digit scale, may change over time. The recommended minimum passing level in place on the day an examinee sits for an examination will be the level used for scoring purposes. Monitor the USMLE website for information on review of and changes to the minimum passing scores for USMLE exams.

How can I tell how well I did on the examination? How much better than passing did I do?
Your score report will include the 3-digit minimum passing score that applies to the exam administration.

On the 3-digit scale, most scores on Step 1, Step 2 CK, and Step 3 fall between 140 and 260. The mean score for first-time examinees from accredited medical school programs in the United States is in the range of 215 to 235, and the standard deviation is approximately 20. If your score is in the range of 215 to 235, your performance is on par with the average first-time examinee from an accredited medical school program in the United States. Your score report will include the mean and standard deviation for recent administrations of the examination.

Your score report will also include graphical performance profiles that summarize relative areas of strength and weakness to aid in self-assessment. The profiles are accompanied by further information on what they mean and how to interpret them.

More information on scores and score interpretation is available on the Scores FAQs page of the USMLE website at http://www.usmle.org/frequently-asked-questions/#scores.

How will U.S. GME programs be able to evaluate my 3-digit score?
The 3-digit score scale is the primary score reporting scale and has been used since the USMLE Program was established in the early 1990s. Unlike the 2-digit score, the 3-digit score is calculated using statistical procedures that ensure that scores from different years are on a common scale and have the same meaning. This means that GME programs can use the 3-digit score to make reasonable comparisons of examinees who tested at different times. Information on the meaning and interpretation of the three-digit score is included with USMLE transcripts, is available on the USMLE website, and is provided in the USMLE Bulletin of Information.

(posted December 28, 2012; updated March 22, 2013)

IMG Performance in the 2013 Match

For the eleventh consecutive year, the number of first-year (PGY-1) residency positions offered through the National Resident Matching Program® (NRMP®) Main Residency Match® increased. A total of 26,392 first-year positions were offered in the 2013 Match. This represents an increase of 2,358 positions compared to last year and an increase of nearly 5,800 positions since 2002.

The number of IMGs who matched to first-year positions increased by 1,425 compared to 2012. Of the 12,683 IMGs who participated in the 2013 Match, 6,311 (49.8%) matched. In the 2012 Match, 4,886 (43.9%) IMGs were matched to first-year positions. (These data include a small number of Fifth Pathway applicants who participated in the 2013 and 2012 Matches.)

Of the 7,568 IMG participants who were not U.S. citizens, 3,601 (47.6%) obtained first-year positions. The number of non-U.S. citizen IMGs who obtained positions in 2013 increased for the second year in a row, this year by 826.

Of the 5,095 U.S. citizen IMG participants, 2,706 (53.1%) were matched to first-year positions, an increase of 604 over last year. This is the tenth consecutive year that there has been an increase in the number of U.S. citizen IMGs matching to first-year positions.

The total number of IMGs who will fill PGY-1 positions for the 2013-2014 academic year may be higher than the number obtaining positions through the 2013 Match. Although the majority of PGY-1 positions in the United States are filled through the Match, in past years a significant number of IMG applicants obtained positions outside of the Match. For example, while 4,626 IMGs obtained PGY-1 positions through the 2011 Match, 6,754 IMGs entered PGY-1 for the 2011-2012 academic year.

For the 2013 Match, the NRMP introduced an “All-In” policy. This policy requires that, to participate in the Match, programs must register and attempt to fill all of their residency positions through the Main Residency Match, or through another national matching plan. Programs must place all positions in the Match or no positions in the Match. This policy is a factor in the higher numbers, compared to last year, of both positions offered through the 2013 Match (up 2,358 or 9.8%) and the number of IMGs participating in the 2013 Match (up 1,549 or 13.9%). It also, presumably, reduced the number of positions available outside of the 2013 Match. For more on the NRMP’s new All-In policy, visit the NRMP website and Ask the Experts: The NRMP’s New “All-In” Policy, a resource of the ECFMG Certificate Holders Office (ECHO).

About the Match

The annual NRMP Match is the system by which applicants are matched with available residency positions in U.S. graduate medical education (GME) programs. Participants submit to the NRMP a list of residency programs, in order of preference. Ranked lists of preferred residency candidates are likewise submitted by U.S. GME programs with available positions. The matching of applicants to available positions is performed by computer algorithm. The Match results announced in March of each year are for GME programs that typically begin the following July.

Additional Resources on the Match and Match Results

The preceding data are taken from the Advance Data Tables for the 2013 Main Residency Match compiled by the NRMP. These tables provide detailed information on the positions offered and filled by the Match in 2013 and prior years. To access these tables, or to obtain further information on the NRMP, visit www.nrmp.org.

The June issue of Academic Medicine, the journal of the Association of American Medical Colleges, usually offers an analysis of Match results from the preceding March. For more information, visit your medical school’s library or www.academicmedicine.org.

Late each year, JAMA: The Journal of the American Medical Association traditionally publishes an in-depth analysis of graduate medical education in the United States. This analysis includes the number of IMGs entering and continuing in U.S. GME programs and a breakdown of IMG resident physicians by specialty and subspecialty. Visit your medical school’s library or http://jama.ama-assn.org.

ECFMG Selected as a Top Workplace by Philly.com

The Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates (ECFMG®) has been named one of the 100 Top Workplaces in Philadelphia for 2013 by Philly.com. Organizations included in the list are not just better places to work, they are more likely to be successful than peer organizations.

Recognition as a Top Workplace is determined solely by employee feedback obtained through a survey conducted by WorkplaceDynamics, LLP, a leading research firm on organizational health and employee engagement. WorkplaceDynamics conducts national and regional workplace surveys on the principle that “The most successful companies are the ones that employees believe in.”

Now Available: New ECHO Resources for ECFMG-certified Physicians

Each month, the ECFMG Certificate Holders Office (ECHO) publishes free resources for ECFMG-certified physicians, and those about to be certified, who are planning their careers.

ECHO is pleased to announce that the following are now available.

  • A Preview of ECFMG’s EPICSM: ECFMG is about to launch a new service, the Electronic Portfolio of International Credentials (EPIC). EPIC is a powerful career development tool for the world’s physicians, allowing them to build a web-based portfolio of their primary-source verified medical credentials and to request that their credentials, and reports verifying the credentials’ authenticity, be sent electronically to any organization, anywhere in the world. EPIC launches in April, but we want you to know about it now, since EPIC offers special benefits for ECFMG-certified physicians. Visit Introducing EPIC to learn more.
  • Focus on Trends in Medical Education: Are you following trends in the dynamic field of medical education? Have you thought about how these trends may affect your medical career? We’ve selected some peer-reviewed research publications on: funding for graduate medical education, medical workforce issues, and international medical education to help you stay up-to-date on these essential topics. Learn more about them in Published Research on Trends in Medical Education.

In addition to providing valuable resources, ECHO offers certified physicians ways to stay connected with ECFMG and its expertise. Through ECHO, certified physicians can also connect with information from other organizations and experts, and each other. ECHO also offers new ways for certified physicians to communicate with ECFMG, for example, by participating in ECHO’s monthly surveys and sending feedback to ECHO.

For more information, visit the ECHO section of the ECFMG website at www.ecfmg.org/echo.

Paper Supporting Documents Will Not Be Accepted for ERAS 2014

Effective with the ERAS 2014 application season, ERAS Support Services at ECFMG will no longer accept paper documents in support of ERAS residency applications. All supporting documents must be submitted electronically using one of the available methods listed below.

ERAS Residency Applicants Can Use ECFMG’s OASIS

Applicants can electronically submit Medical Student Performance Evaluations (MSPEs), medical school transcripts, photographs, Postgraduate Training Authorization Letters (PTAL or “California Letter”), and  letters of recommendation (LoRs) if they have not waived their rights to view them, to ERAS Support Services using ECFMG’s On-line Applicant Status and Information System (OASIS). Please note that students/graduates of medical schools that participate in the ECFMG Medical School Web Portal (EMSWP) ERAS program cannot upload MSPEs or medical school transcripts using OASIS. These documents must be provided by the participating medical school (see below). For more information on how to upload documents using OASIS, and the types of documents applicants can submit, visit http://www.ecfmg.org/eras/applicants-documents-submission.html.

International Medical Schools Can Use ECFMG’s EMSWP

Through the ECFMG Medical School Web Portal (EMSWP) ERAS program, international medical schools can electronically submit Medical Student Performance Evaluations (MSPEs), medical school transcripts, and letters of recommendation (LoRs) on behalf of their students and graduates who participate in ERAS. Participating schools can also track receipt of ERAS supporting documents by ECFMG and verify the ERAS registration activity of their students and graduates.

For more information on the EMSWP ERAS program and how to establish an account, medical school representatives can contact Patricia Baldwin-Browns, ERAS Program Administrator, at erasadmin@ecfmg.org.

Letter of Recommendation Writers Can Use AAMC’s ERAS LoR Portal

Applicants can request that letter writers electronically submit letters of recommendation on their behalf using the AAMC’s ERAS LoR Portal. Applicants can submit ERAS LoR Portal requests to their letter writers using their AAMC MyERAS account. For more information on the ERAS LoR Portal, visit the AAMC website at https://www.aamc.org/services/eras/282520/lor_portal.html.

Paper documents submitted via mail or courier service to ERAS Support Services at ECFMG for ERAS 2014 will NOT be scanned or attached to international medical students’/graduates’ MyERAS applications.

Reminder: Once registered at MyERAS, it is your responsibility to monitor the status of your ERAS application through the AAMC Applicant Document Tracking System (ADTS) found at the AAMC MyERAS homepage.

Now Available: ECHO’s January Resources for ECFMG-certified Physicians

Each month, the ECFMG Certificate Holders Office (ECHO) publishes free resources for ECFMG-certified physicians, and those about to be certified, who are planning their careers.

ECHO is pleased to announce the following new resources for January.

  • Match Week is quickly approaching, and it is time to put the potential training programs you interviewed with in order and then submit your rank order list to the NRMP®. Besides reflecting on your interviews with these programs and where you would most like to train, there is much to consider, such as deadlines, policies, and procedures. Visit our new resource NRMP Rank Order Lists: Some Important Considerations to find out more about this process.
  • Do you know what to do if you find out you are unmatched for 2013? We asked the executive director of the National Resident Matching Program® (NRMP) to explain the organization’s Supplemental Offer and Acceptance ProgramSM (SOAP SM) that was put into place to help unmatched applicants find unfilled positions during Match week. Read all about it in Ask the Experts: NRMP’s Supplemental Offer and Acceptance Program (SOAP).

In addition to providing valuable resources, ECHO offers certified physicians ways to stay connected with ECFMG and its expertise. Through ECHO, certified physicians can also connect with information from other organizations and experts, and each other. ECHO offers new ways for certified physicians to communicate with ECFMG, for example, by participating in ECHO’s monthly surveys and sending feedback to ECHO.

For more information, visit the ECHO section of the ECFMG website at www.ecfmg.org/echo.