Medical schools outside the United States and Canada vary in educational standards, curriculum, and evaluation methods. The purpose of Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates (ECFMG) Certification is to assess the readiness of international medical graduates to enter U.S. residency and fellowship programs that are accredited by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME).
If you are an international medical graduate and wish to enter an ACGME-accredited residency or fellowship program in the United States, you must be certified by ECFMG before you can enter the program. You must also be certified by ECFMG if you wish to take Step 3 of the three-step United States Medical Licensing Examination™ (USMLE™). ECFMG Certification is required to obtain an unrestricted license to practice medicine.
To be certified by ECFMG, you must pass a series of exams; you must also provide ECFMG with copies of your medical education credentials, which ECFMG will verify directly with your medical school. The certification process begins when you submit your first application for examination to ECFMG. At this time, ECFMG will assign you an identification number that you will use throughout the certification process.
The time required to complete the certification process is different for each applicant. There is no minimum time period required for ECFMG Certification. You may apply for the required exams as soon as you are eligible. All of the exams required for ECFMG Certification are offered regularly throughout the year.
Both medical school students and graduates may begin the certification process. However, since one of the requirements for ECFMG Certification is that your medical diploma be independently verified by your medical school to ECFMG, you cannot complete the certification process until you graduate and receive your diploma. The time required for some aspects of the certification process, such as the time required by your medical school to verify your medical diploma, are beyond the control of ECFMG.
[Last update: 31 August 2005]