International Medical Graduates in Surgery – Blog Series

13 Aug 2022

By Gopika SenthilKumar and Jamesa Fabien

An international medical graduate (IMG) is a physician who received their medical degree from a medical school located outside the United States and Canada that is not accredited by a U.S. accrediting body, the Liaison Committee on Medical Education, or the American Osteopathic Association. While some IMGs complete the entirety of medical school outside of the U.S and follow a different curriculum, some international medical graduates attend ‘Off Shore’ schools. These medical schools closely follow the curriculum of U.S medical schools; students complete two years of basic science study outside of the U.S (most often in the Caribbean) and complete their clinical training in teaching hospitals or clinics in the US, Canada, or sometimes the UK. In contrast to IMGs, international students from around the country can choose to pursue their undergraduate and medical education in the US. These students may seek visas to complete their residency training in the US, however, their journey differs from IMGs as they hold degrees from US accredited medical schools. 

Through this blog series, we share stories and lessons learned based on interviewers with IMGs who have successfully secured surgical residency positions in the US. This series is curated and brought to you by members of the Association of Women Surgeons National Medical Student Committee. 


Gopika SenthilKumar is a 4th-year MD-PhD student at the Medical College of Wisconsin, Milwaukee WI. She is a current Mentorship Coordinator for the committee and is an Executive Director for F1Doctors – a national, student-led mentorship platform for international students pursuing medical education in the US. Through these roles, she hopes to increase access to quality mentorship for students throughout the world. 

Jamesa Fabien, born and raised in the Caribbean island Dominica, is a 4th-year medical student at Ross University School of Medicine, Barbados. She is the current chair of the National Medical Student Committee. Through her involvement in AWS, she hopes to serve as an Ambassador for international medical graduates by helping to pave the way, generating awareness, and by coordinating projects geared at increasing support for IMGS.

Our blog is a forum for our members to speak, and, as such, statements made here represent the opinions of the author and are not necessarily the opinion of the Association of Women Surgeons.