Beginning in 1998, international medical school graduates were required to pass a clinical-skills component of the U.S. Medical Licensing Examination to be certified by the Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates. International medical graduates must complete the requirements for commission certification to participate in the National Resident Matching Program. Meanwhile, the match rate for international graduates rose from 34.5% in 1997, the year before the clinical exam requirement, to 52.4% this year, according to Robert Beran, executive director of the matching program, in part because program officials are now more comfortable with the international graduates' qualifications. Substantial increases in international graduates matching to positions in internal medicine, family practice and OB/GYN have been concurrent with fewer U.S. medical school seniors matching to these specialties. The total number of positions available in these specialties has increased from 1997 to 2004.
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