Medical Residency in USA - 10 IMG Steps from USMLE to ERAS, Match

10 IMG Steps From USMLE To Medical Residency in the USA

January 20, 2019


How do I get a medical residency in the USA as an International Medical Graduate?

U.S. Medical Residency for International Medical Graduates (Foreign Medical Graduates – FMG) is a common goal, but the path to IMG Residency Match in the USA can be confusing and overwhelming. If you are an IMG (earlier used abbreviation FMG) applying to a U.S. medical residency program, we are here to help.

Let’s break the IMG residency application journey down into a simple ten-step process that will help you understand what you need to do, and when you need to do it.

1) Register with the USMLE®

The Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates® (ECFMG ®) certifies the qualifications of International Medical Graduate physicians before they can begin their U.S. graduate medical education, or “Residency” for short. You will need to register with the ECFMG® to begin the ERAS® application process.

2) Pass the USMLE® Exams

The United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE®) is a three-step examination for medical licensure in the United States.

USMLE Step 1 examines how you understand and apply basic sciences to the practice of medicine. The USMLE Step 2 CK exam evaluates whether you can apply your medical foundation and understanding of clinical science for the provision of patient care. The USMLE Step 2 CS assesses your ability to employ medical knowledge and skills in a practical, patient-oriented setting.- UPDATE In January 2021, the USMLE Step 2 Clinical Skills (CS) test for medical school students and graduates was permanently canceled. 

Later, you will also have to pass USMLE Step 3 which is the final examination and focuses on providing patient care in an ambulatory setting. You have the option of taking this exam prior to applying for IMG residency or at the end of your internship year.

3) Get Valuable Clinical Experience in the USA

Participate in quality hands-on Externship in the United States. Even if you are still an undergraduate and have not passed USMLE steps, do not waste your time on the way to a medical residency, ask about clinical rotations opportunities.  

4) Register with the AAMC®

The Association of American Medical Colleges® (AAMC®) runs the Electronic Residency Application Service® (ERAS ®). ERAS® is the centralized online application system you will use for applying to residency programs through their MyERAS® Portal.

5) Pick your Residency Programs

By now you will have taken several of your USMLE® Exams and will have a better understanding of how competitive you are as IMG for the Medical Residency Match. This is important and will help you screen the hundreds of US residency programs in selected specialties (Internal Medicine, Family Medicine, Psychiatry etc.)  to find those that you will most likely be competitive for. The most efficient way to do this is to use IMGPrep’s Customized Residency Program Lists. Our programs list will help you streamline the ERAS® application process.

6) Get your ECFMG® Token and Register with ERAS®

Obtain your ECFMG® Token through the OASIS or the MyECFMG mobile app. The ECFMG Token is a 14-digit alphanumeric number that is unique to you and is required to register with ERAS®. Once you have your token, register with ERAS, which you will need to do to submit your ERAS® applications.

7) Finalize Documentation and Submit ERAS® Application

You have already identified those medical residency programs for which you are qualified. Now you apply to them through ERAS® and include all supporting documentation. This documentation includes your residency personal statement, ERAS® Common Application Form, curriculum vitae, and letters of recommendation. IMGPrep document services will help you ensure your documents are presented in a professional manner.

Your personal statement is your one chance to present yourself, in your own words, to an admissions committee. Learn more about how to prepare a professional personal statement here.

8) Medical Residency Interview

After you submit your ERAS® application, you may be asked to interview at one or more residency programs. This is one of the most important steps in the process. IMGPrep can help you prepare for your residency interviews through our one-on-one residency interview preparation service.

Preparing for your medical residency interview is critical for your ERAS application. Learn why to prepare with the coach and participate in mock interviews.

9) Register with the NRMP

The National Residency Match Program® (NRMP®) runs the annual Residency Match which pairs IMG residency applicants with residency and fellowship programs. The Residency Match uses “rank order lists” submitted by both applicants and residency program directors to determine how applicants and programs should be partnered. Following your residency interviews, you will rank residency programs in order of preference. Log into ERAS and update your profile with NRMP ID. Now you are ready for the ERAS Residency Match.

10) Residency Post-Match

If you have an IMG Match, then congratulations!

If you have not matched, you have a second chance with the post-residency Supplemental Offer and Acceptance Program®, or “SOAP®” where you can compete for the Residency Match’s remaining unfilled positions.

These ten steps are a simple outline of  how International Medical Graduates can succeed in the IMG residency application process. However, IMGPrep can increase your chances by affordable services and full consultation on the way.

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IMGPrep is a leading educational consulting firm dedicated to assisting IMGs in reaching their goals, dreams, and potential. Check out our other Articles and learn more about IMGPrep services at:

IMGPrep® is not affiliated with the ECFMG®, USMLE®, AAMC®, ERAS®, NRMP®, the Residency Match®, or the SOAP®.