Background: Graduates of international medical schools (IMGs) make up approximately one-quarter of the physician population and play a key role in the provision of health care in the United States. This study investigated whether they differ from U.S. medical graduates (USMGs) in specialty board certification.
Method: The study compared USMGs, U.S. citizen IMGs (USIMGs), and non-U.S. citizen IMGs (non-USIMGs) who graduated from medical school between 1958 and 1994 and were involved in direct patient care in 2003.
Results: There is variability among the specialties, but overall USMGs have the highest specialty certification rates followed by non-USIMGs, and USIMGs. Among recent medical school graduates, non-USIMGs have certification rates that are comparable to USMGs.
Conclusions: IMGs have lower board-certification rates than USMGs, although a sizeable majority has achieved board certification in the specialty they practice. There are differences between non-USIMGs and USIMGs, with the former more likely to become board certified.