A number of factors determine how long it takes a participant to complete the UCLA IMG Program.
Some applicants may enter the IMG Program with only rudimentary preparation for the USMLE. They may be reviewing material online on their own, or they may have enrolled in an online or in-person test prep course. They may have never taken an NMBE self-assessment exam. They may have not yet applied for ECFMG certification. These individuals, if admitted, would be expected to work through the full length of Program A.
Others may have already completed an online test prep course, or they may have already achieved a passing score on an NBME self-assessment exam at the time they enroll in the IMG Program. They may have registered for ECFMG certification which is required to take the USMLE. These individuals may be asked to continue self-study, and to take more NBME self-assessment exams until they can score higher than 500 points on three successive NBME exams. These individuals may be able to complete Program A in less than the expected 6 to 9 months.
Still other applicants may have already taken and passed USMLE Step 1 at the time of enrollment. These individuals may be admitted to Program B to begin preparation for USMLE Step 2.
Applicants who have already successfully passed USMLE Step 1 and 2 (CK and CS) may be admitted to Program C.
English language readiness is yet another consideration. Regardless of what an applicant’s status is regarding the USMLE, his or her level of English language competency may also determine how long he or she is asked to remain in a particular Program.
No matter at which level (Program A, B, or C) an applicant is admitted to the UCLA IMG Program, their progress will be dictated by how quickly they can examination milestones. This will depend on how committed each individual is to engage in self-study, and how quickly and consistently they can reach satisfactory scores on the NBME self-assessment exams, and subsequently pass the appropriate USMLE exams. Any failing score on a USMLE will obviously set back their time to completion.
Both of the major certifications required for IMGs seeking medical licensure in California—ECFMG certification and PTAL authorization—are involved processes that require timely completion of documents, as well as the filing of materials and verifications from one’s original medical school and other institutions. A registration for ECFMG certification must be on file before one is allowed to take any USMLE exam. Complete ECFMG certification is required before one can apply for PTAL authorization. PTAL authorization is required before one can register for the national match. Hence, any incomplete, delayed, or erroneous information that is submitted can create delays that can impact progress through the IMG Program.
Although the UCLA IMG Program can offer admission, and participants can begin their programs of study, at any time throughout the calendar year, many of the Program’s required milestones occur according to set schedules. For example, online courses are offered at discreet times of the year, and registration for the national match occurs only once a year. If an IMG is admitted to the program but misses a course start date, his or her progress may be delayed by several months; if he or she misses the match registration deadline for any reason, they will have to wait another year to apply.