International Medical Graduates in Nephrology: Roles, Rules, and Future Risks

Am J Kidney Dis. 2018 Jul;72(1):113-117. doi: 10.1053/j.ajkd.2017.09.016. Epub 2017 Dec 6.


International medical graduates (IMGs) have become an increasingly essential part of many residency and fellowship programs in the United States. IMGs, who may be of either US or non-US citizenship, contribute significantly to the physician workforce across this country, particularly in underserved areas, as well as in their home countries on their return after training. Approximately 65% of nephrology fellows are IMGs, with most of these being non-US citizens. Non-US IMG applications for nephrology fellowship have been declining, exacerbating an ongoing shortage of nephrology trainees. IMGs face visa status restrictions and immigration policy concerns, limitations on federally funded research support, and difficulty finding desirable jobs in both private practices and academia after fellowship. We review training, examination, and licensure requirements, as well as visa status rules for IMGs. We also discuss the potential negative impact of recent immigration policies limiting the entry of non-US IMGs on the medical community in general and in nephrology in particular.

Keywords: ECFMG; International medical graduate (IMG); USMLE; immigration; immigration policy; medical licensure; medical training; nephrology fellow; physician workforce; residency; visa; visa status.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Internationality*
  • Internship and Residency / legislation & jurisprudence*
  • Internship and Residency / standards
  • Internship and Residency / trends
  • Licensure, Medical / legislation & jurisprudence*
  • Licensure, Medical / standards
  • Licensure, Medical / trends
  • Nephrology / legislation & jurisprudence*
  • Nephrology / standards
  • Nephrology / trends
  • Physicians / legislation & jurisprudence*
  • Physicians / standards
  • Physicians / trends
  • Risk Factors