ECFMG Pathways for IMG Certification in 2022 Residency Match
There are 6 ECFMG Pathways for International Medical Graduates (IMGs) seeking eligibility for the 2022 Match Cycle. As most residency candidates already know, the USMLE Step 2CS exam has been permanently discontinued. Accordingly, the ECFMG committed itself to providing alternative Step 2CS Pathways for IMGs to satisfy this clinical skills portion of ECFMG Certification. So, if you successfully completed a Pathway in 2021, you won’t have to resubmit for the 2022 Match. However, you should take the time to contact the ECFMG to verify your status.
Importantly, the following is taken directly from the ECFMG (Requirements for ECFMG Certification for 2022 Match):
Alternative Step 2CS Pathways for ECFMG Certification – 2022 Match Cycle
Assessment of Communication Skills, Including English Language Proficiency
Applicants who pursue one of the Pathways must attain a satisfactory score on the Occupational English Test (OET) Medicine to satisfy the communication skills requirement for ECFMG Certification. All Pathway applicants, regardless of citizenship or native language, must satisfy this requirement.
Information on Expiration of the ECFMG Certificate for the Purpose of Entering GME
Note, ECFMG Certificates issued to applicants who satisfy the clinical and communication skills requirements for ECFMG Certification through a Pathway will be valid for entry to positions beginning in 2021 and 2022 at U.S. GME programs accredited by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME). So, once the applicant successfully completes the first year of ACGME-accredited training, the ECFMG Certificate will no longer be subject to expiration for the purpose of entering GME.
Please note, if you do not enter an ACGME-accredited training program in 2021 or 2022, your ECFMG Certificate will expire for the purpose of entering GME. So, should you wish to enter a GME program in the future, you must meet the clinical and communication skills requirements for ECFMG Certification in place at that time in order to revalidate your ECFMG Certificate.
If your ECFMG Certificate lists a 2021 expiration date, it is extended through December 31, 2022.
General Eligibility for All Pathways
Essentially, applicants who are eligible to pursue ECFMG Certification based on one of the Pathways include those who have:
- not already met the clinical and communication skills requirements for ECFMG Certification.
- completed an Application for ECFMG Certification.
- previously registered for a USMLE Step or Step Component.
- Are not barred by ECFMG from pursuing certification.
Note, applicants who failed Step 2 CS one or more times must apply to Pathway 6 in order to meet the clinical and communication skills requirements for ECFMG Certification. Keep in mind, this is regardless of whether they meet the eligibility requirements for other Pathways.
Alternative Step 2CS Pathways
(Quoted directly from the ECFMG as of April 17, 2021)
Pathway 1: Already Licensed to Practice Medicine in Another Country
Note, applicants who currently hold or have recently held a license/registration to practice medicine without supervision can use Pathway 1. Therefore, applicants who meet the eligibility requirements for Pathway 1 must apply to Pathway 1 in order to meet the clinical and communication skills requirements for ECFMG Certification, unless they failed Step 2 CS; see Important Note.
See the Pathway 1 page for more information.
Pathway 2: Already Passed a Standardized Clinical Skills Exam for Medical Licensure
This Pathway is for applicants who do not currently hold/have not recently held, a license/registration to practice medicine without supervision. And, applicants have completed a secure, standardized clinical skills exam. Essentially, this was done as a requirement for medical licensure or registration in a country other than the United States.
See the Pathway 2 page for more information.
Pathway 3: Medical School Accredited by Agency Recognized by World Federation for Medical Education (WFME)
See ECFMG.org for more information.
Pathway 4: Medical School Accredited by Agency that Has Received a Determination of Comparability by National Committee on Foreign Medical Education and Accreditation (NCFMEA)
See ECFMG.org for more information.
Pathway 5: Medical School Issues Degree Jointly with a U.S. Medical School Accredited by Liaison Committee on Medical Education (LCME)
Accordingly, Pathways 3, 4, and 5 are intended for applicants who have not yet obtained a license/registration to practice medicine without supervision (Pathway 1) and who have not already passed an acceptable standardized clinical skills exam for medical licensure (Pathway 2). Also, an applicant to Pathway 3, 4, or 5 must be a student or a recent graduate of a medical school that meets eligibility requirements established by ECFMG.
See the page for Pathways 3, 4, and 5 for more information.
Pathway 6: Evaluation of Clinical Patient Encounters by Licensed Physicians
Next, Pathway 6 is if you do not meet the eligibility requirements for Pathway 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5. And, it is also for those who have failed Step 2 CS one or more times. Keep in mind, this is done using ECFMG’s Mini-Clinical Evaluation Exercise (Mini-CEX).
Applying to the Pathways
In conclusion, to meet the clinical and communication skills requirements for ECFMG Certification through one of the Pathways:
- First, determine your eligibility to apply to a Pathway by reviewing all information on [the ECFMG] website carefully.
- Next, if you believe you are eligible to apply to a Pathway, complete and submit your Application for Pathways for ECFMG Certification for 2022 Match.
- Submit application by December 15, 2021.
- You can apply to Pathways 1-5 now.
- The on-line application process for Pathway 6 should open in July 2021. Please monitor this website for the steps that you can take to prepare for Pathway 6 before July.
- Then, meet the communication skills requirement.
- Attain a satisfactory score on each of the four sub-tests.
- You must take OET Medicine on or before the last available test date in December 2021.
- Release your OET Medicine scores to ECFMG. Please, see Assessment of Communication Skills, Including English Language Proficiency for instructions. And, ECFMG must receive your scores directly from OET by January 15, 2022.
- Make sure the ECFMG receives all required documentation. So, see the detailed instructions for the Pathway to which you are applying for complete information on required documentation and deadlines. Note, it is your responsibility to ensure that ECFMG receives all required documentation.
- Monitor the status of your application by logging into the Application for Pathways for ECFMG Certification for 2022 Match. Then, you will be notified by e-mail when processing of your application is complete.
So, if you submitted an Application for Pathways for ECFMG Certification for 2021 Match, please see here for important information based on the status of your 2021 application. And, determine what steps you may need to take if you wish to participate in the 2022 Match.
Visit the ECFMG’s website for the most up to date information. Make sure to contact the ECFMG directly if you have specific questions or clarifications regarding these requirements.