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Setting the Record Straight

The AMA receives many requests for assistance and information related to IMG issues and concerns. Over the years it has become apparent that there is considerable misunderstanding that continues to be taken as fact. What follows is an attempt to "set the record straight" on a number of key issues.

Myth:
The examination previously administered by the ECFMG, known as the Foreign Medical Graduates Examination in the Medical Sciences (FMGEMS), was a route to licensure for IMGs.

Fact:
Passage of the FMGEMS was never a route to licensure but was only for the purpose of ECFMG certification. Passage of the FLEX was required for licensure. Therefore, those who have successfully completed the FMGEMS must now, during the transition period to the United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE), successfully complete all three parts of the USMLE. 

Myth:
The ECFMG is adequately funded and therefore should not charge IMGs a larger fee than U.S. medical graduates to take the USMLE examination.

Fact:
The ECFMG is supported only by the fees that it charges for the worldwide administration of the appropriate parts of the USMLE to IMGs. Therefore, it must include overhead and examination costs as well as the functional costs of gathering data and certifying to the eligibility of IMGs to enter graduate medical education programs in the U.S.

Myth:
The AMA did not respond to regulations proposed by the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) that would have required those in this country on an H-1B visa to be retroactively converted to J-1 status.

Fact:
The AMA delivered a formal complaint to the INS and also met with INS officials to strongly object to the retroactive provisions of the proposed regulations. Because of AMA and other efforts, the INS withdrew its proposed changes.

Myth:
The AMA discontinued its National Credential Verification Service because of a lack of interest in IMGs for whom this service would have provided the greatest benefit.

Fact:
Less than 1% of IMGs subsribed to The National Credential Verification Service. The AMA Membership Department provides a "Physician Profile" service free for all AMA members ($29 for non-AMA members). The content of AMA profiles are intended to assist with credentialing of Doctors of Medicine (MDs), Doctors of Osteopathic Medicine (DOs), and Physician Assistants (PAs).

Myth:
The IMG Section is able to provide support and assistance in personal matters such as residency availabilities, employment opportunities, and correcting incidents of perceived discrimination.

Fact:
The IMG Section serves as a general advocate and speaks out on issues affecting all IMGs. It assists the AMA in the development of policy that focuses the efforts of the Association in those areas that are important to IMGs and urges legislative remedies wherever and whenever appropriate. The AMA is prohibited by Internal Revenue regulations from providing individual services although it can, and does file "friend of the court" petitions in support of broad legal principles that affect a large number of its members.