An ERAS-based survey evaluating demographics, United States medical licensing examination performance, and research experience between American medical graduates and United States citizen international medical graduates: Is the bar higher on the continent?

Pauline H. Go, Zachary Klaassen, Ronald S. Chamberlain

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

10 Scopus citations


Objective: To provide an assessment and comparison of the demographics, medical school academic performance, United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE) performance, and research experience between American Medical Graduate (AMG) and United States International Medical Graduate (USIMG) candidates who applied for and successfully matched into categorical general surgery residency programs. Design: Data were obtained through the Electronic Residency Application Service (ERAS) and a post-match survey distributed to all applicants. Setting: The study was conducted at a community-based, university-affiliated hospital. Participants: All United States citizen graduates of allopathic American medical schools or international medical schools, who were applying for a general surgery residency position at our institution. Results: A total of 854 candidates applied, including 143 AMGs and 223 USIMGs. Seventy-two AMGs (50.3%) and 41 USIMGs (18.4%) were invited to interview (p < 0.0001). Mean USMLE step 1 scores were higher among USIMG applicants overall (USIMG: 212.1 ± 14.9 vs AMG: 206.9 ± 15.5; p < 0.0005) and among those invited to interview (USIMG: 227.8 ± 16.2 vs AMG: 215.5 ± 16.2; p < 0.0001). Seventy percent of AMGs matched into a categorical surgery residency compared with 31.6% of USIMGs (p < 0.001). Compared with AMGs, USIMGs applied to more programs (USIMG: 90.3 ± 42.8 vs AMG: 52.1 ± 26.4; p < 0.002), were offered fewer interviews (USIMG: 9.0 ± 6.9 vs AMG: 20.9 ± 13.7; p < 0.0001), and subsequently ranked fewer programs (USIMG: 7.5 ± 4.5 vs AMG: 12.5 ± 6.1; p < 0.0008). Conclusions: USIMGs require higher USMLE scores than their AMG counterparts to be considered for categorical general surgery residency positions. However, excellence on the USMLE neither ensures an invitation to interview nor categorical match success. A well-rounded application in conjunction with a practical application strategy is critical for USIMGs to achieve success in attaining a general surgery residency position.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)143-148
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of surgical education
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 1 2012
Externally publishedYes



  • United States medical licensing examination (USMLE) step 1 research
  • international medical graduate
  • residency match

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Education

Cite this