top of page

Vietnamese Doctor's Pathways to

U.S residency

An IMG (International Medical Graduates) is definied as someone graduated from a medical school physically outside the US and Canada. Therefore, Vietnamese doctors, who not graduated from an accredited (LCME) US medical school, is considered an IMG. This page summarizes pathways to get into US residency. Regardless what pathways you take, it will be a long journey before you can reach your destination. VMGUS will try our best to help you regardless your pathways. Depends on individuals and situations, one pathway will be better than others but none is perfect.

A. If you're a doctor graduated from Vietnam, there are three ways you can go:

1. Study USMLE in Vietnam, then take Step 1,2 CK in Thai Lan, then Step 2 CS in the US. You'll be certified ECFMG and eligible to apply for US residency. This pathways can take a lot of time and effort. However, you can work and study USMLE in Vietnam at the same time. You do not have to spend a lot of money for traveling and paperwork yet. You can estimate self-readiness for the exam before deciding to take the real one in Thai Lan. However, you will have limited English practice, no US clinical experience.

2. Go to US study a Master degree in healthcare (such as MPH or MHA). You will spend 1-2 years to get an MPH or MHA or something similar. In the meantime, you'll acquire and practice medical English, take Step 1,2, CK and CS and have chances for US clinical experience. VMGUS have listed some MPH programs in the forum. Getting a Master degree will not enhance your chance to residency a lot but it gives you some advantages. However, it costs more money since most Master program are not free.

3. Go to US for PhD degrees in biomedical science. You will spend 4-5 years to get PhD. While you're in the US, you will take Step 1,2CK, CS and certified your Vietnamese MD, then apply for residency as usual. This is sometimes the best way because it have the highest chance for residency because you have PhD plus US clinical experience. In addition, getting a PhD is usually free. That means you'll get paid during study PhD. Please remember having a PhD doesn't mean you're eligible to apply for residency. This is just another graduate degree. This pathway takes the longest time. VietMD will put a list of PhD programs soon.

B. If you're a doctor graduated from Vietnam and reside in the US now:

You can study USMLE by yourself or at Kaplan Center or Testing Center. You can also volunteer or participate research at US clinics to get clinical experience. If you're a green card holder (permanent resident) and you want a US formal medical education, you can apply for D.O. program (Doctor of Osteopathy, legally equivalent to US M.D.) at New York College of Osteopathic Medicine. This is a 4 year DO program (similar to MD one). More information can be find at

C. If you're a Vietnamese Doctor graduated from a medical school outside the US:

Make sure that your school is listed here
If your school is not listed here, you're not eligible to take USMLE and not eligible to apply for US residency.

D. If you're a Vietnamese doctor graduated from a US medical schools (MD or DO):

You're considered as an American Medical Graduate (AMG), not IMG. Your chance to residency is very good. 

bottom of page