Sep 21, 2023

IMGs Meaning: What's the Experience of Being an IMG?


In some ways, the medical community has struggled to thrive. We have a shortage of doctors. The physician workforce is aging. Long work hours and declining insurance reimbursement rates have students second-guessing their career paths. And considering it takes about a decade to train a physician, we have to act now, not later. One solution? IMGs. But what’s the meaning of IMGs, how are they helping combat physician shortage, and how can they get the support they need to have successful careers as physicians?

The Meaning of IMGs

“IMG” stands for “international medical graduate.” The term refers to a physician who received their medical degree from a school outside of the United States or Canada, which isn’t accredited by a US accreditation body. The location of the school determines whether or not someone is an IMG — not the individual’s citizenship.

IMG holding stethoscope in shape of a heart

How IMGs are Making a Difference

In an effort to counter the physician shortage, medical schools in the US have increased their enrollment rates over time. However, it hasn’t been enough. That’s where IMGs come into the picture.

For many years, international medical graduates have filled vital residency roles to become successful physicians. In fact, they account for more than one-third of the residency applicant pool and take about 10,000 residency slots each year. But the process for obtaining a medical residency as an IMG is becoming more competitive, and applicants have to abide by specific steps.

How Can an IMG Get a US Residency?

If they want to become a competitive residency candidate, then an IMG must train at an accredited hospital that has a residency program. Furthermore, many programs require IMGs to acquire US clinical experience as a prerequisite. So, every year, international medical graduates come to the US for clinical training with the goal of completing that prerequisite and securing a position in a residency program.

international medical student wearing mask

How can IMGs get the clinical training that they need? Each year, CHHA works with graduates to help them gain the experience and hands-on training that they must acquire in order to match into their residency of choice and ultimately gain US medical licensure. We’re a team of medical educators and other professionals who specialize in clinical rotation development and management. Our standardized clinical clerkship program works in unison with medical schools to provide clinical experience to IMGs in primary care and other specialties.

During rotation, IMGs get to work directly with physicians, nurses, and other staff within the hospital. They get hands-on, real-life experience, including participating in history taking, lab analysis, and physical exams. Rotations last anywhere from four to 12 weeks and can occur in both inpatient and outpatient settings.

We take pride in mentoring individuals for residency in this country. Training in the US as an IMG is a unique and rewarding experience. And it’s going to set you up for a long and fruitful career as a physician. If you need help getting the necessary training to build a competitive US residency application, apply with CHHA today.

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