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IMGs in Medicine and other FAQs

I am an IMG and my medical school does not award an MD degree. My degree is an MBBS. No one in the United States recognizes the MBBS degree. Can I use the initials "MD" after my name?

Before using MD after your name, check with your state licensing board. Many states permit a physician who is licensed to practice medicine in a state to use "MD", even if they earned an MBBS, MB ChB or other equivalent medical degree from an international medical school. Some states, however, require licensed physicians who earned a degree other than an MD to submit a second, separate application requesting permission to use "MD". If you need to use ‘MD’ in more than one state, check with each state’s medical board since policies between state boards can differ.

A recent case in Kansas illustrates the laws concerning use of MD. An oral surgeon who received a doctor of medicine (MD) degree from a medical school outside the U.S. had used the MD initials after his name in his professional practice. The Kansas Court of Appeals and the Kansas State Board of Healing Arts ruled that he could not use the MD initials in his practice because although he was licensed as an oral surgeon, he was not licensed to practice medicine.

To learn what types of medical degrees are offered in various countries, you can search the International Medical Education Directory (IMED). IMED lists and provides information on thousands of medical schools around the world and includes the title of the medical degree awarded in different countries. IMED is maintained by the Foundation for Advancement of Medical Education and Research (FAIMER) (This link will take you off the AMA Web site. The AMA is not responsible for the content of other Web sites.)

Can you tell me those states that are favorable to IMGs?

There are a number of states with significant numbers of IMGs in practice. Generally, though, these are large states that have greater needs and opportunities. They are also states with medical societies that sponsor either an IMG Section or an IMG Committee. Beyond that, there is almost no way to determine those states that are more favorable to IMGs. Some place artificial barriers in the way of licensure or make it more difficult for an IMG to obtain a license, but it is almost impossible to challenge these barriers because they apply to all. The AMA has advocated for many years that there be similar residency requirements for IMGs as for U.S. medical graduates and has model legislation to this effect that it regularly distributes, but progress has been slow to bring about change.

I am a U.S. citizen who went to a foreign medical school. Is there any way I can complete my clinical training at a U.S. medical school?

It is very rare for a U.S. medical school to accept students from foreign medical schools, but that is not to say that you should not apply and contact the medical school of your choice individually. The Association of American Medical Schools (AAMC) Web site (This link will take you off the AMA Web site.) provides information on U.S. medical schools and their admission requirements.

What is the Fifth Pathway program and how can I apply?

The AMA will no longer support new Fifth Pathway Program classes after July 1, 2009. The last Fifth Pathway Program class to be supported is the January 2009 entering class, which ends December 2009. Please contact the schools providing the Fifth Pathway Program directly if you have any questions or concerns.

The Fifth Pathway program was designed for students who graduated from a college/university in the United States but went to medical school outside the US. In addition, Fifth Pathway applicants must attend a medical school that requires one year of social service before awarding the degree. If you already have completed your medical education and have an MD degree (or its equivalent) you cannot participate in the Fifth Pathway Program.

If a University wants to accept a student into a Fifth Pathway program, they can set one up - some have done so just for a few students at a time. The only way a new Fifth Pathway Program can be started is if the Dean of a Medical College agrees to it, and sends the AMA letter stating his/her agreement. The requirements are simple, and can be implemented to facilitate even one single student. 'Beginning a program' doesn't require dozens of students. But it does require a sympathetic Dean who is willing to take on the extra burden of a non-traditional -- yet well-established -- pathway.

I am interested in pursuing other career opportunities available for foreign medical graduates other than practicing medicine.

"Leaving the Bedside: The Search for a Nonclinical Medical Career," a book published by the AMA, is a practical guide that leads the reader through a well-reasoned sequence of steps leading to the successful development of a nonclinical medical career. You'll find the information, guidance, and direction you need to achieve your personal and professional goals. You can buy it from AMA Store OP#392096 for $25.

Where can I find a copy of the “Green Book”?

You can purchase the Graduate Medical Education Directory (the "Green" Book) and the Supplemental to the GME Directory through AMA Customer Service. You can call them at (800) 621-8335 or order online through our AMA Store.

I am a foreign medical student in an observership in the U.S. What kind of insurance do I need?

There are two types of insurance that you should consider - medical liability coverage for patient care activities, and health insurance for medical care that you may need.

If you serve as an observer at a medical school or residency program, it is likely you would be asked to obtain liability coverage, and the school or program should have information for you on how to obtain the coverage. If you are interested in health insurance, the school may be able to assist you with that as well.

If you work directly with a physician, that physician should check with the insurance company that provides his/her liability coverage to see if your observership is covered. If you don't directly participate in patient care, it's possible that you may not need to carry liability coverage yourself. If you are looking for health insurance for yourself, the physician may be able to add you to the plan that covers his/her staff. Or you may obtain health insurance coverage directly from a number of insurance companies.

You may also be able to get insurance through the AMA Insurance Agency at (800) 458-5736 or (312) 419-9010.

AMA Insurance Agency Web site