What Will It Mean for Me? Perceptions of the ECFMG 2023 Accreditation Requirement from an Online Forum

J Med Regul. 2021 Jul;107(2):49-56. doi: 10.30770/2572-1852-107.2.49.


In 2010, the Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates (ECFMG) announced that as of 2023, physicians applying to train and practice in the United States will be required to graduate from a medical school that has been accredited using criteria such as those developed by the World Federation for Medical Education. This study analyzed posts on the Student Doctor Network (SDN) online forum that refer to this accreditation requirement to investigate how it has been perceived and understood by current and prospective medical students. A keyword search of relevant terms was used to identify posts discussing the accreditation requirement on the SDN online forum, which were subjected to thematic analysis. There were a total of 83 posts from 49 distinct user accounts between May 2012 and January 2020. Seven themes were identified in total; four whose overall purpose was to seek or offer advice and three whose overall purpose was commentary. Themes relating to advice included applications and admissions, future career planning, personal circumstances, and countryspecific issues. Themes relating to commentary included the accreditation requirement policy itself, the potential implications of the requirement, and the educational quality of non-U.S. medical schools. Only half of web links on these posts were to the ECFMG website for official information about the requirement. Although a variety of different perspectives about the ECFMG accreditation requirement were expressed on an online forum for student doctors, the overall number of posts was low, which suggests that the requirement has not been a frequent topic of discussion on this platform. The insights gained from posts suggest personal opinions about the requirement and consequences for individual student application and career choices were the main areas of interest. Signposting to official information channels may help to raise awareness about the requirement and tackle areas of uncertainty and confusion about its implementation.