ECFMG Acculturation Program
IMG Advisors Network (IAN)
IMG Advisors Network
Nature of Advice
How to Participate
ECFMG has begun a series of initiatives designed to facilitate the transition of international medical graduates (IMGs) arriving from outside the United States into U.S. medicine and culture. These efforts are in response to the growing recognition that, even though many IMGs arrive with excellent prior medical education and fluency in English, there are still many issues that are confusing and unclear. The U.S. health care system and the institutions where IMGs train may be organized and operate very differently from those with which they are familiar. They must learn to live and work in the United States and adjust to differences in language and culture. This transition can be quite stressful not only for the physician but for family members as well when they accompany the IMG.
Most IMGs do make the necessary transitions and eventually become comfortable working in U.S. hospitals and clinics and living in the United States. However, ECFMG’s discussions with focus groups of IMGs indicate that this transition could be facilitated by:
Advice from other IMGs who have entered U.S. training programs and can provide very practical and useful answers to questions and concerns on a wide range of topics.
Access to this advice and other acculturation resources before leaving the home country, where these resources may be limited, and before the demands and challenges of the new training program begin.
To accomplish this, ECFMG has launched the IMG Advisors Network.
IMG Advisors Network
The IMG Advisors Network (IAN) is a free service that allows qualified IMGs who will be coming to the United States from other countries to connect with advisors who can answer questions about living and working in the United States. To use this service to obtain advice, you must meet the qualifications of advisees. There are also qualifications for advisors, which include being in or having completed an ACGME-accredited training program in the United States.
IAN advisors serve on a volunteer basis. The IAN database lists available advisors by name, medical specialty, U.S. GME institution, location in the United States, country of medical education, medical school, and other demographics. The IMGs using this service will be able to select an advisor based on these criteria. Once an advisor has been selected, the e-mail address of the IMG seeking advice will be provided to the advisor, who can then begin communicating directly with the advisee. ECFMG is actively recruiting IMGs to serve as advisors; refer to Information for Potential Advisors.
The communications between advisors and advisees are direct, rather than through ECFMG. However, there is an option to copy ECFMG on any particular e-mail, if the advisor or advisee chooses to do so. The purpose for this is simply to allow those of us working on this program to see what kinds of issues are being raised and to use that information to develop more and better resources to assist IMGs throughout the acculturation process. There will be no response from ECFMG to such “cc:s”. If you choose not to copy ECFMG, correspondence between advisor and advisee will not be visible to or monitored by ECFMG.
Nature of Advice
There is a wide range of topics that might be raised by advisees and could be addressed appropriately by advisors. A sample of such topics includes:
Bringing spouses or family right away versus having them come after getting settled
When to arrive
Where to find lodging
Where to find ethnic restaurants and grocery stores
Where to find houses of worship
Setting up personal finances – bank accounts, credit cards, Social Security Numbers
Advisability of buying an automobile; getting a driver’s license
What to pack – kinds and amount of clothes, personal effects
Spouses and children – employment opportunities, child care, schools
Support groups – people from the same country or ethnic groups
What to expect as far as work and call schedules, time off, vacations
U.S. culture – books, TV shows, movies, music, sports
Language – idioms, jargon, abbreviations (ECFMG will be developing and making available materials in these areas)
Unique features or characteristics of the program or the area in which it is located
Some topics should not be addressed to advisors:
Questions regarding the ECFMG Certification process. The policies and procedures related to ECFMG Certification are complex and subject to change. For these inquiries, advisees should refer to the ECFMG website or contact ECFMG’s Applicant Information Services at [email protected] or (215) 386-5900.
Questions regarding participation in or application to ECFMG's J-1 Exchange Visitor Sponsorship Program. The requirements for ECFMG J-1 visa sponsorship and the related federal regulations are complex. Advisees should refer these issues to ECFMG’s Exchange Visitor Sponsorship department at (215) 823-2121 or visit www.ecfmg.org/evsp/index.html. Discussion and advice regarding the various visa options for physicians may be an area in which the advisors might contribute; however, ECFMG discourages IAN advisors from providing specific immigration counseling.
Although advisors can provide advice regarding preparation for the USMLE examinations, including USMLE Step 3, they must never disclose actual test material, such as questions, test cases, or other specific test content. IMGs receiving such information would be at risk of sanction for irregular behavior and could have their records permanently annotated or be subject to bars from future examinations.
Advisors will defer to program directors or program administrators if advice or information differs from that the IMG might receive directly from the program director or program or institution staff.
How to Participate
For eligibility and information on participating as an advisee or advisor, follow the appropriate link, below.