What websites are available to help IMGs to become familiar with the US medical licensing process?

We conisder the following websites essential to understanding what the US medical licensing process consists of:

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Are there special requirements IMGs must fulfill in order to apply to a residency program in the state of California?

Yes, an IMG or foreign medical graduate (FMG) interested in applying to any residency program in the state of California must becaome familiar with the requirements set forth by the Medical Board of California (MBC). An IMG will be required to obtain a Post-Training Authorization Letter (PTAL), also known as the California Letter. Please visit the MBC website to obtain further details.

We recommend that you pay close attention to Form L-5 "Certificate of Clinical Clerkships" which your medical school must complete. Please refer to page 6 of the PTAL application for further details. One week of clinical clerkship is equivalent to thirty-two (32) hours. Do not include any lecture hours. The Medical Board of California is only interested in actual clinical hours earned.

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How many Family Medicine Residency Programs exist in the state of California?

There are 38 programs. Please see the AMA website for details.

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How many California Family Medicine Residency programs are associated with the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA)?

There are eight California Family Medicine Residency programs associated with UCLA.

  • UCLA Medical Center Program
  • Los Angeles County Harbor-UCLA Medical Center Program
  • Kaiser Permanente Southern California (Los Angeles) Program
  • Kaiser Permanente Southern California (Woodland Hills) Program
  • Northridge Hospital Medical Center Program
  • Pomona Valley hospital medical Center Program
  • Riverside County Regional Medical Center Program
  • Ventura County Medical Center Program
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Is it important to become familiar with the ACGME core competencies prior to applying to residency programs?

Yes, we recommend that every IMG become familiar with the six ACGME core competencies in order to incorporate your personal experience and knowledge in these areas into your application process:

  • Patient Care
  • Medical Knowledge
  • Practice-based Learning and Improvement
  • Interpersonal and Communication Skills
  • Professionalism
  • Systems-based Practice

For more information on these competencies, please visit Penn State's Hershey Medical Center's website.

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Are there local free seminars that I can attend to obtain more information about the US medical licensing process?

Kaplan Medical offers free events nationwide on the following topics:

  • How to Match to a Residency
  • Begin your ERAS application
  • USMLE Test-Taking Strategies
  • Inside the Step 2 CS

For more information please visit the Kaplan Medical website or call 1-800-533-8850 for more information (outside the US and Canada, please call 1-213-452-5700).

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When should I take the USMLEs (US Medical Licensing Examinations)?

We recommend that you only take the USMLEs once you have taken assessment tests which indicate that you are "test ready". These tests are challenging and it has been our experience in communicating with many IMGs who apply to our program that many have taken and failed these tests because they lacked the necessary English skills. Further, many IMGs have never taken such timed standardized exams before and are unfamiliar with test taking strategies. Therefore, we recommend that IMGs never take any of the USMLEs without having concrete evidence that you are ready. Even if you have scheduled a test and postponing it would indicate that you would lose the cost of the examination fee, it is worth losing the cost of the exam. Every time you take any of these exams and do not pass the exam, you decrease your level of competitiveness.

Kaplan students should consult with their professional counselors who will guide them based on the result of your assessment exams.

There are assessment test such as those offered by the National Board of Medical Examiners (NBME) Self-Assessment Services which offer web-based exams to the general public for a fee per examination. Please visit the NBME website for further details.

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What level of English should I possess to apply to the UCLA IMG program?

Strong English skills (both oral and written). We can not stress enough how important it is for an applicant to our program to possess both strong oral and written skills. If you have recently immigrated to the US, we recommend that you invest your time improving your English. As an applicant to residency training programs, you will be required to submit applications, write personal statements and interview all of which will involve demonstrating that you possess strong English skills. Your chance of attaining a passing score on the USMLEs will be directly linked with how well you comprehend the questions and answers in English.

It is for this reason that we recommend that you practice speaking in English at all times possible. Incorporate listening to English (television, radio, etc) and speaking English into your daily lives. IMGs who participate in our program are required to speak English only at all times!

There are educational organizations which offer English as a Second Language (ESL) courses.

There are organizations such as UCLA Extension which offers an Accent Reduction course. Please refer to course entitled "Speaking with Clarity: An Accent-Reduction Workshop", Registration # T7592U. For registration or general information, please call (310) 825-9971. IMGs who participate in our program are evaluated on a case by case basis and provided with the opportunity to take this course at a very discounted cost.

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What USMLE study material should I purchase and how should I study?

Many of our IMG Program participants highly recommend the FIRST AID text books such as the First Aid for the USMLE Step 1 2008 Student-to-Student Guide, First Aid for the USMLE Step 2 CS (Clinical Skills), First Aid for the USMLE Step 2 CK (Clinical Knowledge), and First Aid for the USMLE Step 3 as well as the USMLE preparation text books offered by Kaplan.

Both Kaplan and USMLE World offer web-based questions known as Q-banks (questions banks) which have proven to be an essential part of our IMGs curriculum. There are membership fees for the purchase of these Q-banks. Please refer to each vendor's site for more information.

We highly recommend that you incorporate yourself into a study group. Those of you who are or have been Kaplan students should form highly focused study groups to offer each other peer support. You should speak English with your study group participants at all times. Many of our successful IMGs studied with a dedicated study group for at least a six month period prior to applying to our UCLA IMG Program.

Learning how to manage your time to study properly is an acquired skilled set. The following text is a recommended resource: How to Study in College, 9th Edition by Walter Pauk and Ross J.Q. Owens.

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Updated April 2014