Tag Archives: medical

ECFMG and Iranian Medical School Graduates: A (real life) Drama in 3 Acts

June 11th, 2015


-ECFMG (Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates)
-Iranian medical school graduates
-Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) of the U.S. Department of the Treasury

Once upon a time in America, over the course of a week, there happened to be some confusion at the ECFMG (Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates) on what to do with medical school graduates from Iran. What transpired in those seven days demonstrates the state of confusion that exists concerning the sanctions placed on Iran which prohibit individuals/entities in the U.S. from engaging in commerce with Iran or otherwise face severe repercussions.

Here’s how it started:

Act I

On May 29, 2015, the ECFMG announced that it would no longer accept medical degree graduates from Iran. In their announcement they noted that Canada too would no longer accept Iranian medical school graduates. This prompted a huge outcry from the Iranian diaspora and educators leading to the circulation of a petition to have ECFMG place Iranian medical school graduates back on its list. Had ECFMG done its due diligence before reaching the controversial decision? Perhaps not, as seen by what transpired five days later.

Act II

On June 3, 2015, the ECFMG issued the following update: 

“ECFMG has consulted with officials of the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) of the United States Department of Treasury to clarify whether OFAC restrictions permit ECFMG to engage in verification activities for medical credentials issued in Iran. Based on this consultation, ECFMG is diligently working toward resolution of this important issue. Once again, we regret any inconvenience, and we thank all of our clients for their patience and cooperation.” 

Two days later, this happened…


On June 5th, ECFMG amended its position and released the following statement:

“ECFMG is pleased to announce that it will resume processing of requests for verification of medical credentials issued by educational, health care, and medical registration/licensing institutions in Iran. As previously announced, ECFMG was not processing such requests, pending clarification of restrictions of the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) of the U.S. Department of the Treasury. On June 5, ECFMG was advised by OFAC officials that it is permitted to engage in verification activities for medical credentials issued in Iran. ECFMG would like to thank all affected physicians and clients for their patience and cooperation while we worked toward positive resolution of this important issue”. See more at: http://bit.ly/1IxiVYL

The End!

My 2 Cents:
In most likelihood, the ECFMG was apprised by the OFAC and the US Department of Treasury of the issuance of General License G in 2014 which allows for education and cultural exchange between the USA and Iran. For a summary of the activities allowed under General license G, please also see the blog on General License G. For the PDF copy of General License G: http://1.usa.gov/1Ixjthc

All and all, a story with a happy ending!

The Frustrated Evaluator

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Filed under Credentials, Education, Human Interest, Politics

Is there a doctor in the house?

August 12, 2011

According to a recent report on PRI’s The World, “the U.S. suffers from a shortage of primary care physicians, and the problem is expected to worsen. America’s baby boom generation is aging, and health care reform could put greater demands on doctors as more American gains medical insurance.”

How do we intend to address this problem? There is one solution that can address the physician shortage and it would be to allow more foreign-trained doctors to work in the United States. In fact, thousands of such doctors are already here, but face a myriad of challenges that prevent them from the profession they spent years studying and practicing before coming to the U.S.

In order to get a medical license in the U.S., a foreign-trained doctor must first take board exams followed by an English language proficiency test, and complete a residency program. This is where the process becomes difficult. Foreign-trained candidates, along with their U.S. trained counterparts, apply for hundreds of residency positions but nearly “95% of candidates accepted for residency positions are graduates of U.S. medical schools while fewer than 40% of the foreign-medical doctors are accepted for US residency.”

In order to qualify for the board exams, the foreign-trained doctors seeking a medical license in the U.S. have already satisfied the academic and medical education criteria, otherwise they would not be eligible to sit for the exams. And, if they pass the exams, they are qualified to apply for residency like their U.S.-trained counterparts. Given the shortage of medical doctors and the expected demand for more physicians, why is our system stacked against these qualified individuals? Is the residency system unfair and biased against non-U.S. trained medical doctors? Or, is this selection process intended to discourage foreign-medical doctors from abandoning their home countries in order to practice in the U.S.?

The PRI report cites Prof. Mullan of George Washington University School of Medicine who studies the global migration of doctors that “there are several reasons why US residency programs prefer US graduates. A doctor in almost every country in the world is a product of the taxpayers or the tax base of that country. Because governments spend money on medical education, countries want a return on their investment. For that reason, it is appropriate for U.S. residency programs to select US graduates over those from foreign countries…if the US made it easy for foreign doctors to work here, that would be unfair to other countries.” But this is true of foreign-educated candidates with degrees in business, humanities, science, nursing, engineering who migrate to the US for either economic or socio-political reasons.

The fact remains that we have a shortage of medical professionals and we are not addressing this need through our limited residency programs. And until which time we have more medical schools, expand existing schools and able to increase the number of American medical graduates, we would need to deal with the qualified foreign-medical graduates in the US who are eager to step in and help.

Alan A. Saidi
Sr. VP & COO, ACEI, Inc.

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