Clinical fellowships in the United
States can be an excellent opportunity for international medical graduates
(IMGs) to gain further education and training in their specialty of interest.
It can be a challenging and competitive process, but with dedication and
persistence, it is possible to secure a clinical fellowship and enhance your
professional career. However, do you know a US fellowship can be obtained without doing residency training in US. More on this below.
Eligibility Requirements for Clinical Fellowships in the US
The first step in pursuing a
clinical fellowship in the United States is to ensure that you meet the
eligibility requirements. IMGs who wish to pursue a clinical fellowship in the
US must have completed their FCPS or any other local post-graduate qualification
and passed the USMLE Step 1 and 2 exams.
Additionally, they must have ECFMG
certification, which is a requirement to qualify for fellowship training in the
US. ECFMG certification is a process that involves verifying an IMG’s medical
education credentials and assessing their ability to communicate in English.
Apart from the basic eligibility
requirements, most fellowship programs prefer candidates who have completed
their residency training in their home country and have FCPS Part II cleared.
US clinical experience is also preferred, but not mandatory. However, having
research experience can give IMGs a competitive edge in the application process.
The “Post-graduate fellowship
pathway” can be a potential route for IMGs to secure a clinical fellowship in
the US. This pathway is an alternative pathway for IMGs who did not match or
did not apply for residency to gain fellowship training. The Post-graduate
fellowship pathway provides a chance for IMGs to gain valuable clinical
experience in their specialty and potentially qualify for residency in the
However, it is important to note
that completing a fellowship program via the Post-graduate fellowship pathway does
not automatically make an IMG eligible for board certification or the ability
to practice independently in the US. IMGs who wish to practice medicine
independently in the US must complete a US residency program and become
board-certified in their specialty. If an IMG does not wish to repeat residency
training, they must return to their home country upon completion of their
It is important to note that some
states require IMGs to have an unrestricted license to participate in a
fellowship program. Therefore, some programs prefer candidates who have taken
the USMLE Step 3 before starting their fellowship program.
Specialties That Offer Fellowships
Many specialties offer clinical
fellowships in the US, including internal medicine subspecialties, surgical
subspecialties, and diagnostic radiology subspecialties. Some specialties
participate in a fellowship match similar to the NRMP residency match, while
others do not participate in any program, and you have to email programs
individually to find out.
Some fellowships are easier to get
than others. For instance, neurology subspecialties, nephrology, or non-ACGME
accredited fellowships are generally less competitive than highly competitive
ones like interventional cardiology, Gastroenterology and critical care. It is
important to research the specific specialty and fellowship program of interest
to determine their competitiveness and application requirements.
Tips for Securing a Clinical Fellowship
Securing a clinical fellowship in
the US as an IMG can be a challenging and competitive process. Here are some
tips to increase your chances of success:
- Start early: The application process for clinical
fellowships in the US can be long and competitive. It is important to
start early and gather all the necessary documents and certifications.
- Network: Networking can be a useful tool in securing
a clinical fellowship. Attend conferences and events in your specialty of
interest to meet and connect with physicians and researchers in the US.
- Research: Research the fellowship programs you are
interested in and their specific requirements. Some programs may require
specific research experience or publication, so it is important to be
aware of their expectations.
- Personal Statement: The personal statement is an
essential component of the application process. Use it to showcase your
passion, skills, and accomplishments and make yourself stand out from
- Letters of Recommendation: Choose recommenders who
know you well and can attest to your skills and qualifications. Letters of
recommendation can be a critical factor in securing a clinical fellowship.
- Be Flexible: Be willing to consider different
locations and specialties if necessary. Some locations and specialties may
have fewer applicants and be easier to secure.
Clinical fellowships in the US can
be a great opportunity for IMGs to gain further education and training in their
specialty of interest. The reverse pathway provides an alternative route for
IMGs who did not match or did not apply for residency to gain fellowship
training. However, it is important to note that completing a fellowship program
via the reverse pathway does not automatically make an IMG eligible for board
certification or the ability to practice independently in the US.
To increase their chances of
success, IMGs should start early, network, research fellowship programs, craft
a compelling personal statement, choose recommenders carefully, and be flexible
in their approach. By following these tips and persevering through the
application process, IMGs can achieve their goal of securing a clinical
fellowship in the US and enhancing their professional career.