Specialty board certification among U.S. citizen and non-U.S. citizen graduates of international medical schools

Acad Med. 2005 Oct;80(10 Suppl):S42-5. doi: 10.1097/00001888-200510001-00014.


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.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Certification / statistics & numerical data*
  • Databases as Topic
  • Foreign Medical Graduates / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Medicine / statistics & numerical data*
  • Specialization*
  • Specialty Boards*
  • United States