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Fellowship Training as an IMG

September 23, 2011

So let’s be optimistic for a moment and assume that you end up in your residency of choice. You have worked hard and now you are a well-respected resident and thinking of applying for fellowship.  There is a trend in the fellow selection process that should concern IMGs.

Think about this…

A number of the top fellowship training programs in competitive specialties in the US are now not granting fellowship interviews to IMGs. Not because those IMGs are applying from residencies that don’t traditionally produce good fellowship candidates but any IMG regardless of where they trained. An IMG from a top-tier residency can have trouble getting interviews in their chosen specialty.

Why is that? Well in California the “Applicant Evaluation Status Letter” from the California Medical Board is cited as a major issue. The “Applicant Evaluation Status Letter” is a certification process (http://www.mbc.ca.gov/applicant/application_international.pdf) by the California Medical Board that can take months.

Other major issues for fellowships are that visa holders are not eligible for salary support from NIH T32 funded training programs. This results in situations where the division must pay salary to fellows during their non clinical training time. Visa holders are eligible for research funding from foundations but applications come from non visa holders as well.  Research funding in general is very hard to get at the moment.

So you should know that Cardiology, Gastroenterology and Hematology-Oncology can be very competitive for AMGs and are not IMG friendly in general.  There are some IMG friendly specialties where the above observations do not seem to apply such as Nephrology.

The views expressed in this post are those of Kenneth Christopher, MD and do not necessarily reflect the views of Dr. Christopher’s employer Partners HealthCare.

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