Postgraduate Medical Education in the USA

After graduating from high medical school, a student takes the United States Medical Licensing Exam (USMLE). This exam is multi-level.

USMLE Step 1 is a computer test, consisting of questions on the subjects of the first two years of medical school. USMLE Step 2 is divided into two stages. Clinical Knowledge is a computer test with questions on the subjects of the last two years of medical school. Clinical Skills is a practical exam in which actors play the role of patients with various diseases and conditions. This exam is paid and is held on certain dates.

Postgraduate Education Process

After successfully completing the first two USMLE levels, to become real doctors, students must pass an internship in the chosen specialty. For each specialty, an internship lasts a certain number of years depending on the complexity of the chosen profession (therapy takes 3 years, various types of surgery can take from 5 to 9 years). The internship is for the most successful students, who have not only passed their exams perfectly but also were engaged in scientific activities and helped in hospitals in their spare time.

During the internship, young doctors pass internal exams in their discipline, and after the internship, they take USMLE Step 3. After passing the last level of USMLE, interns receive a license due to which they are officially considered practicing physicians and can work in the specialty throughout the United States.

Some specialties, such as neonatology, oncology, cardiology, require additional training, which is called fellowship. This training lasts another 2-4 years. Thus, medical training in the United States lasts at least 11 years. If a medical practitioner decides to change their specialization or choose a narrower specialization, then they also enter a fellowship and go through the whole course with the other students.

What to Do If You Are a Foreign Specialist?

A foreign trained medical doctor must confirm their qualification and obtain a license for medical practice if they want to continue to work in their profession. This can be done in two ways.

The first way is to enter higher medical school. That is, having a foreign diploma, you can skip the general four-year training. Also, having a transcript of an academic record book in hand, one can go through a simplified training program at medical school. For example, if the subject “Pathological Anatomy” lasted 48 hours at your medical university, and during this time you passed 2 tests and 1 exam, and at the American university this subject is given only 24 hours and 1 test, then you do not have to take a course of pathological anatomy. However, not all US medical schools accept foreign students. It is necessary to examine in detail the site of each university separately to learn about this opportunity.

Another way is to confirm your diploma and get a place in the postgraduate training program. However, in this case, the candidate will have to independently prepare for the exams.