Locum Tenens Tips

What International Medical Graduates Need to Know About Working Locum Tenens

Female doctor

Female doctorThe world of locum tenens is an equal opportunity world, welcoming physicians, nurse practitioners, and physician assistants with varying years of experience. And it offers international medical graduates (IMGs) a chance to experience different American cities and towns while advancing their practices.

However, before any healthcare professional sets off on a locum tenens assignment, there are a few preliminary requirements to complete. Of course, Weatherby Healthcare will guide you through each step, such as credentialing and licensing. For IMGs, though, the process entails a few extra steps.

To get an overview of what international medical graduates should expect in preparing for locum tenens assignments, we asked three of our medical staff services experts to weigh in.


First, providers who complete their medical school education outside of the United States must obtain an educational commission for foreign medical graduates (ECFMG) certification, which includes exams to assess knowledge of medical sciences and proficiency in English. This designation signifies that professionals meet minimum standards to qualify for further clinical training in the United States.

“Once they have their ECFMG certificates, international medical graduates can apply for a residency or fellowship with an accredited program,” notes Kristy Potter, manager of Weatherby Healthcare’s quality assurance team.

Regardless of how much experience providers gain abroad, IMGs are mandated to complete a residency in the United States, which typically requires a three-year commitment.


Doctors must secure a license for each state in which they wish to treat patients, and each state medical board develops its own application process. However, each requires verification of medical school transcripts. For some IMGs, this particular step could be bit challenging, logistically speaking.

“It can be more difficult to receive a transcript from Nigeria, Egypt, or Europe than it is from Canada or the United States,” says Diana Cosobea, supervisor of the licensing team.

There are numerous reasons why a delay could occur. For example, communication can be hampered by time differences and language barriers.

“Plus, some countries are in political disarray. However, many state medical boards recognize that fact,” says Jill Hassid, senior manager of the licensing team. “The boards generally will not penalize doctors based on the political state of their home countries. In those circumstances, the boards consider various options on a case-by-case basis.”

Still, both Cosobea and Hassid say physicians can act as their own best advocates. “The physicians’ involvement is key. They speak the native language and can develop contacts at their medical schools,” Hassid says.

One of the most efficient approaches is to apply for the Federation Credentials Verification Service (FCVS).

“It puts all your verifications into one profile, and that helps tremendously with the licensing process,” Cosobea says.

More specifically, the FCVS creates a lifetime portfolio of primary-source verified credentials that can be submitted for licensure, hospital privileges, credentialing and membership to professional or specialty associations. Once a document or transcript is verified via FCVS, no future verifications of it will be necessary.

In order to be granted a FCVS profile, you’ll be required to provide the following:

  • Photocopy of ECFMG certificate
  • National Board of Medical Examiners (MBME) examination history release
  • Photocopy of medical school diploma
  • Photocopy of English translation of medical school diploma
  • Photocopy of medical school transcript in original language
  • Photocopy of English translation of medical school transcript
  • Photocopy of required internship certificate – compulsory/internado

The FCVS also verifies personal data, including photocopies of:

  • Marriage certificate
  • Divorce decree
  • Court-issued name change
  • Naturalization certificate
  • Birth certificate
  • Passport
  • Refugee travel document

Though physicians who attend medical school outside the United States have to complete a few extra steps in the credentialing and licensure processes, international candidates shouldn’t interest in pursuing locum tenens assignments.

“Rest assured, we deal with these types of issues on a regular basis. We know the challenges and how to overcome them,” Hassid concludes.

About the author

Anne Baye Ericksen

Anne Baye Ericksen is a journalist and locum tenens subject-matter expert with more than two decades of experience. She was a regular contributor to LocumLife, Healthcare Traveler and Healthcare Staffing and Management Solutions magazines.