How can International Medical Students and Doctors Practice in the US?

Getting jobs among foreign professionals abroad is a new trend with the advent of technology and globalization in the 21st century. Professionals in various industries are finding it easier to get work overseas thanks to the trend of globalization. But this isn’t always the case in the medical industry, especially when it comes to foreign doctors working in the US.

Foreign medical graduates (FMGs) frequently have to complete a significant number of coursework requirements that may not have been included in their foreign medical school curriculum, and it’s quite tasking.

Getting your medical license in the US

In the US, there is a more stringent onboarding process for Foreign Medical Graduates (FMGs) who wish to practice as doctors, even though the entry standards in those disciplines may be relatively simpler. International medical graduates (IMGs) are often required to acquire a translation certificate from the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

After that, in addition to the medical degrees they earned back in their various home countries, they will need to complete further coursework and training. According to the ECFMG stats on international foreign graduates, about 59.4% obtained medical positions in the US. This shows that it is relatively easy to get a license in the US, although it can be tasking. Thus, it is expected that most FMGs should pass the licensing exams in the US in order for them to participate in residency or fellowship for international doctors.

Next, let’s discuss the requisites for foreign doctors who intend to practice in the US.

Pre Med Education

In the US, there are numerous ways to become a doctor, but they all involve attending medical school. In American universities, students who choose the pre-medical or pre-med track must complete certain courses in order to be eligible for medical school after receiving their bachelor’s degree. To become a doctor, you don’t have to major in biology, but you do need to complete some prerequisite courses.

Why do IMGs and Doctors require additional education in the US?

It is stated that when it comes to medical education, the US has very high standards. Even though international physicians may have had very high-quality training in their home countries, the US medical community has the necessary safeguards in place to ensure that foreign physicians intending to practice in the US have received US educational training.

Foreign medical professionals who wish to practice in the US must get ready to take and pass the US Medical Licensing Exams, as well as complete residency training, obtain certification from the Educational Commission for Foreign-Trained Medical Graduates, and take a third licensing exam.

Additionally, fieldwork is typically emphasized in the curriculum of several international education programs (mainly hands-on knowledge and skills). However, it is also expected that foreign Doctors who wish to get a license in the US should do the following:

  • Prepare ahead for the US Medical Licensing Examinations.
  • Obtain certification from the  Educational Commission for Foreign-Trained Medical Graduates.
  • Participate in, apply for, and finish residency programs designed for recent graduates of medical schools abroad.
  • Pass the third US medical licensing examination.
  • Fluently communicate in and comprehend English.
  • Possess a rudimentary comprehension of science.
  • Recognize the fundamental standards established by US colleges and institutions with accreditation.

The core courses required to practice medicine in the US

If you do intend to practice in the US as a foreign medical graduate or medical doctor, these are the core courses you need:

  • Chemistry Intro
  • Molecular & Cell Biology
  • General Biology
  • Physics
  • Calculus
  • College Algebra
  • Anatomy & Physiology
  • Principles of Genetics
  • Biochemistry
  • Research Writing
  • Epidemiology
  • Human Embryology

Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates

The Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates (ECFMG) offers thorough resources and information about licensure, residencies, the US Medical Licensure Examination (USMLE), and recognition.

The ECFMG evaluates international medical graduates’ preparedness to enroll in residency or fellowship programs in the United States that are accredited by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) through its certification program.

To be certified by the ECFMG, the candidates must meet the following requisites:

  • USMLE Step 1 and Step 2 completion is a requirement for the examination.
  • Fulfilling the prerequisites for clinical and communicative skills
  • Requirements for medical education credentials: a medical education certificate obtained from a school listed in the World Directory of Medical Schools (WDOM).

What you need to know about the United States Medical Licensing and its requirements

The USMLE is a three-step exam that is required to obtain a license to practice medicine in the United States. It is organized by the Federation of State Medical Boards (FSMB) and the National Board of Medical Examiners (NBME).

The exam measures how well a medical student can apply medical knowledge, principles, and concepts. It also assesses how well the medical practitioner can demonstrate fundamental and critical patient-centered skills. These skills are extremely crucial in the practice of health and diseases, and these skills constitute the foundation of safe and effective patient care procedures.

USMLE requirements for ECFMG certification

To get the ECFMG certification, you must pass both the USMLE Step 1 and USMLE Step 2 CK (Clinical Knowledge). Once you pass all three of these US medical licensing examinations, you get certified. Note that you can apply for this certification before you graduate from medical school. However, until you submit proof of graduation, you won’t get confirmation.

Still, you are eligible to start your US residency after obtaining ECFMG certification. So, make sure to apply for your residency well in advance of receiving your certification and degree. Note that the application process may require some time to complete. Now, one might ask, “What do I need to do in order to pass my USMLE test?” Well, you use resource sites like CanadaQBank to get practice questions and ideas on what the test looks like.


As a foreign medical student and doctor who intends to practice in the US, you must take into cognizance these tips as they will help you advance in your career. It’s not difficult to practice in the US; however, it’s quite tasking, but the tips mentioned above would help lighten the burden.

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