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AMA Observership Guidelines

The guidelines contained in the attached document are designed to be used as a template for physicians and medical associations seeking to establish an Observership Program to help acculturate international medical graduates (IMGs) to the practice of medicine in the United States. An Observership Program is not intended to fill gaps in clinical knowledge or training; it is meant to familiarize and acculturate an IMG to the practice of medicine in an American clinical setting, and provide an introduction to American medicine as they will experience it in a hospital-based residency program. This guide may be modified to fit the needs of the physician preceptor and IMG observer in individual situations as appropriate.

An Observership Program is meant to be voluntary for interested IMGs and volunteer physician preceptors, and should not be considered a mandatory step before starting a residency program. Preferably, Observership Programs should be established as not-for-profit ventures. Appropriate permission from the hospital and/or department chair of the preceptor should be obtained before beginning the Observership Program. Because each medical licensing jurisdiction has its own regulations, program organizers should check with their local boards to see if there are restrictions on or requirements for medical observerships in their state or territory.

The American Medical Association (AMA) is not an oversight or accreditation entity. These guidelines are for informational purposes only. If you establish an Observership Program, please contact the AMA-IMG Section at img@ama-assn.org or (312) 464-5678 in order for your program to be listed on the AMA-IMG Web site.

What is an Observership Program?

An Observership Program may be established by a medical association or interested group of physicians to assist international medical graduates (IMGs) who wish to observe clinical practice in a U.S. setting. These programs should acculturate IMGs to American medical practices and help prepare them for residency. They typically last from two to four weeks per rotation (preceptor/specialty), and the observer can rotate among several preceptors to create a longer experience.  Observership programs are not intended to be organized for profit. Physician preceptors should volunteer their time and efforts. Actual costs (administrative fees, immunizations, etc.) may be itemized and paid for by the observer.

Register and download the Observership Guidelines document to view and use the entire program guide and evaluation forms. A separate Evaluation Forms document is available for your use and modification.