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How Foreign Citizens Become Doctors in the US

We answer a question from a doctor in Vietnam in Part 39 of our Foreign Student Series. Transcript of radio broadcast:

This is the VOA Special English Education Report.

We continue our Foreign Student Series this week with a question from a doctor at a hospital in Vietnam. Tran Kinh Thanh in Ho Chi Minh City asks how a foreign doctor can become an American doctor.

One way is to complete a medical residency in the United States. A residency is a period of hospital training for medical school graduates.

To be accepted, foreign-trained doctors need approval from the Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates. The process involves passing several tests. After that, foreign doctors can receive a visa to stay in the United States, at least for the training period.

Practicing medicine in the United States also involves other steps.

But the first thing that foreign-trained doctors have to do is make sure they attended a recognized medical school. It has to be listed in the FAIMER International Medical Education Directory. FAIMER is the Foundation for Advancement of International Medical Education and Research.

If their school is not listed, then foreign-trained doctors cannot be approved for a residency. One solution is to go back to medical school -- an American medical school.

One hundred twenty-five schools in the United States belong to the Association of American Medical Colleges. The group says more than one thousand one hundred foreign citizens applied for the current school year. One-fourth of them were admitted last fall.

Almost all medical schools in the United States require applicants to report scores from the Medical College Admission Test.

Future doctors in the United States traditionally complete four years of medical school after undergraduate school. Then, as residents, they treat patients under the supervision of experienced doctors. A residency is generally between three and seven years. The first year is called an internship.

The Association of American Medical Colleges publishes a book called Medical School Admissions Requirements. The newest one is for two thousand eight-two thousand nine. The guide has details about every school as well as information for foreign students.

The book costs twenty-five dollars and can be ordered through the association's Web site.

For a link to that site, go to You can also find all of the earlier reports in our Foreign Student Series on higher education in the United States.

And that's the VOA Special English Education Report, written by Nancy Steinbach. I'm Bob Doughty.