International medical graduate speaking with patient at hospital

The United States is currently experiencing a physician shortage, and experts at the Association of American Medical Colleges predict that this shortfall will more than double by 2025. This leaves IMGs with many opportunities for placement, but it also makes it all the more important to stand out from the competition.

According to the Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates (ECFMG), approximately half of the international medical graduates (IMGs) applying for a U.S. medical residency program through the NRMP Match were unable to secure a spot. Their American counterparts had significantly more success—more than 90 percent of American medical graduates are matched with a residency program each year.

Comparison of Patient Outcomes

Despite added obstacles to match, IMGs bring many great assets and skills to their work. Researchers at the Foundation for Advancement of International Medical Education and Research in Philadelphia conducted a study comparing mortality rates of 244,153 patients admitted to the hospital in Pennsylvania. The researchers of this study found no difference in patient outcome between those patients treated by international medical graduates and those treated by American medical graduates.

The study also found that patients of foreign-born primary care physicians experienced better outcomes than those cared for by American primary care physicians. Lead author of the study J. John Norcini notes that IMGs account for approximately 30 percent of primary care physicians in the U.S.—a specialty that fewer and fewer American medical graduates are choosing as a career path.

A second study published by The BMJ analyzed data on 1.2 million Medicare patients treated by approximately 44,000 general internists. After controlling for patient characteristics and hospital fixed effects, the researchers found that patients treated by international medical graduates had slightly lower mortality rates. Readmission rates between international and American-trained physicians were the same.

How Can IMGs Stand Out?

These studies prove that IMGs are equally qualified for residency positions. However, Residency Coordinators for programs that are IMG-friendly may simply have such a large influx of applications that they don’t have enough interview slots for the number of potentially qualified candidates. Often, the programs most in need of qualified applicants are small, rural hospitals with limited resources.

This makes it vitally important for international medical graduates to stand out during the application process. It’s essential for IMG candidates to convey their communication skills and work ethic to busy coordinators from the start if they want to secure an interview. Learn how creating an account with MetMatchPlus+ can help IMGs showcase all their best assets with a supplemental profile.

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