Celebrating 50 years of experience: an ECFMG perspective

Acad Med. 2006 Dec;81(12 Suppl):S7-16. doi: 10.1097/01.ACM.0000243344.55996.1e.


As indicated in its mission statement, the Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates (ECFMG), established in 1956, "promotes quality health care for the public by certifying IMGs for entry into U.S. graduate medical education, and by participating in the evaluation and certification of other physicians and health care professionals. In conjunction with its Foundation for Advancement of International Medical Education and Research, and other partners, it actively seeks opportunities to promote international medical education through programmatic and research activities." From 1958 through 2005, the ECFMG certified 287,382 international medical graduates (IMGs); the number per year has varied, depending on the world political situation and other factors. Currently, IMGs constitute 25% of practicing physicians in the United States. India, followed by the United States and the Philippines, has provided the largest number of certified IMGs. The ECFMG has developed extensive resources for verifying medical school diplomas and other credentials of applicants, and it provides credentials verification services to other organizations. Under the U.S. government J-1 Exchange Visitor Program, it also has played a major role in facilitating the entry of foreign physicians to the United States for clinical training and research experience. Over the years, testing of IMGs seeking ECFMG Certification has evolved; whereas initially applicants took examinations specifically for IMGs, they now take the same United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE) sequence of examinations as U.S. medical graduates. Passage of the USMLE is required for ECFMG Certification and licensure in all jurisdictions.

MeSH terms

  • Certification
  • Credentialing / organization & administration*
  • Credentialing / standards
  • Education, Medical / standards*
  • Educational Measurement
  • Foreign Medical Graduates / standards*
  • Foreign Medical Graduates / trends
  • Humans
  • International Agencies / organization & administration*
  • International Cooperation*
  • Internship and Residency / standards
  • Licensure, Medical
  • Organizational Objectives
  • Organizational Policy
  • Organizations, Nonprofit
  • Specialty Boards / organization & administration*
  • United States