3 ways observership programs help IMGs with their Match prospects

Tanya Albert Henry , Contributing News Writer

Are you an international medical graduate (IMG) looking to boost your odds of succeeding in the Match?

If so, there are some steps you can take to educate and position yourself to have a better chance of matching within your preferred specialty. One of the best opportunities is an IMG observership program. Find out how an observership program can help you boost your resume and find a great IMG observership program list from the AMA. 

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In 2018, 51.2 percent of U.S. IMGs and 51.4 percent of IMGs matched within their preferred specialty, according to the National Resident Matching Program’s July 2018 report Charting Outcome in the Match: International Medical Graduates.

The AMA offers guidance for international medical graduates to begin a medical career in the United States. With the AMA, IMGs can:

  • Learn how the Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates (ECFMG) assesses their entry into a U.S. residency or fellowship.
  • See visa requirements.
  • Find information and resources to obtain a state license to practice medicine in the United States.
  • Learn about residency program requirements.
  • View specific licensure requirements for the state where you want to practice medicine.

Also, learn more about observership programs—hands-on experiences that can help qualified IMGs adapt to practicing medicine in the United States. Observership programs expose students to the inner workings of a specific specialty in a hospital or clinical setting with some structured as “mini residency programs.” Many programs are four weeks in length, with others going for six, 12 or as long as 48 weeks. IMGs pay tuition and fees for observership programs.

Here are three ways an observership program can help with your Match prospects. 

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  • Find your perfect match using full features of FREIDA™, the AMA Residency & Fellowship Database®
  • Distinguish yourself with AMA leadership opportunities

Supporting you today as a medical student. Protecting your future as a physician.

Observership programs offer a number of ways to experience the culture of the U.S. health system. Many programs allow IMGs to:

  • Use electronic medical record systems.
  • Collaborate with team members and learn about implementing patient care plans.
  • Experience a performance review.

Some programs allow IMGs to:

  • Take accent-reduction and dialect-coaching courses.
  • Participate in integrated cultural experiences with local community groups.
  • Attend social events.

Observerships offer IMGs many ways to sharpen what they know or learn new clinical skills. They will give you the chance to:

  • Improve history- and note-taking skills.
  • Observe or perform physical exams with physicians.
  • Discuss diagnoses.
  • Attend lectures.
  • Be part of daily rounds.
  • Learn to interpret basic lab tests and radiology data.

Depending on the observership program you choose, a good performance can lead to:

  • A powerful letter of recommendation.
  • Live mock-interview seminars that leave you better prepared when you are interviewing.
  • Opportunities to write case reports or participate in research projects that strengthen your curriculum vitae (CV).