IMG Secrets

10 Elite US Hospitals Open Doors for IMG Observerships

Observerships are informal experiences provided to IMGs and will not involve patient contact. They are limited to one to two weeks and sometimes can be offered for a longer duration. Many of these observerships help you get into residency or fellowship at reputed US & Canadian Hospitals.

I will give you a list of 10 Elite US Hospitals that accept International Medical Graduates (IMGs) for Observership. These Elite hospitals have been consistently ranked as one of the top by US News World Report. I will give you a link to apply for each hospital and tell you how to apply. The hospital requirements may vary but have a lot in common, which I will summarize for you. This list is not exhaustive and has 8 pediatric and 2 adult hospitals as examples. The observership opportunity is provided for all specialties.

This observership is available for

  • IMG consultants
  • IMG Fellows
  • IMG residents
  • IMG medical students

Let’s jump in to find out more about the hospitals and how to apply.

1. Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, USA

The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) is the oldest Children’s Hospital in the World established in 1885. It is also one of the largest and most prestigious children’s hospitals in the World. CHOP is affiliated with the University of Pennsylvania, an Ivy League university, and provides state-of-the-art pediatric care. When I say Ivy League Universities, these are reputed universities in the US, and in fact, most US graduates want to do their training in Ivy League universities.

CHOP has an international observership program that accepts eligible IMGs for observership. CHOP provides observership in all pediatric subspecialties. Rotating through CHOP as an observer is considered prestigious.

You can apply for the CHOP observership program as an IMG at this link. There are certain restrictions specific to CHOP that you can check on this website.

2. Boston Children’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School

Boston Children’s Hospital, is located in Boston, Massachusetts. This is affiliated with Harvard Medical School. Most people in the world have heard of Harvard University.


Here is the link to where you apply for an observership at Harvard Medical School. 

You might have read during your medical school or during your USMLE/MCCQE1, that hydroxyurea is a medication used for sickle cell disease. I read that this drug was first used for sickle cell disease at Boston Children’s Hospital.

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3. Cincinnati Children’s Hospital, University of Cincinnati, Ohio

The next on the list is Cincinnati Children’s Hospital, located in Cincinnati in the state of Ohio. This is affiliated with the University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati Children’s is an outstanding hospital. This was built in the 1800s.

You must be familiar with the oral polio vaccine right called the Sabin vaccine. This was discovered by Dr. Albert Sabin at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital. 

Here is the link to apply for an observership at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center. 


4. Texas Children’s Hospital, Baylor College of Medicine, Texas

The next elite hospital on the list is Texas Children’s Hospital located in Houston, Texas. This is affiliated with Baylor College of Medicine within the Texas Medical Center.

Texas Children’s has some limitations on what the purpose of observerships should be. Some hospitals may have this, but other hospitals may not. When you apply to an observership as an IMG, be upfront about what you’re trying to get out of this observership, and what your ultimate goal is.

You can apply for an observership at the Texas Children’s Hospital using this link.

5. Children’s Hospital of Colorado, Denver School of Medicine

Next on the list is the Children’s Hospital of Colorado, which is located in Aurora, Colorado. This is a more than a 100-year-old hospital. This is affiliated with the University of Colorado, Denver School of Medicine.

In fact, Colorado is an excellent place for any winter adventurous activity. So if you are into any of this, you can explore Colorado. You can have a great vacation there plus do your observer trip.

You can apply for an observership at the Children’s Hospital of Colorado using this link.


6. Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles, California

Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles (CHLA) is affiliated with the Keck School of Medicine of the University of Southern California.  CHLA was established in 1901 and is one of the Elite US hospitals. CHLA has been consistently ranked amongst the top 10 pediatric hospitals by the US News World Report.

You can apply for an observership at the Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles using this link. 

7. Nationwide Children’s Hospital, Columbus, Ohio

The next on the list is Nationwide Children’s Hospital. This is a children’s hospital located in Columbus in the state of Ohio. Nationwide is affiliated with The Ohio State University College of Medicine. This is, again, a more than a hundred-year-old hospital that provides you with various opportunities to rotate through many specialties.

You can apply for an observership at Nationwide Children’s Hospital, Columbus, Ohio using this link. 

8. Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital in Stanford, Palo Alto, California.

Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital provides opportunities for a lot of different observers. Lucile Packard was established in 1991. Although fairly new compared to other examples on this list, Lucile Packard is an elite hospital affiliated to the Stanford University Health System.

You can apply for an observership at Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital, Palo Alto, CA using this link. 

The list so far is all children’s hospitals. This will still make you competitive for both pediatric and adult residency programs. Of course, there may be a few programs that put a restriction on how you can use this experience and whether you could use this towards your benefit to apply for residency or fellowship or not.

9. Einstein Medical Center, Philadelphia

Now I’m going to give you two adult hospital examples.

Next on the list is Einstein Medical Center in Philadelphia. This is part of the Jefferson Hospital Network in the city of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Below is the link to apply for an observership at Einstein Hospital.  If you click the link you’ll see the various options they provide and the duration of the observership they have provided for each specialty.

You can apply for an observership at Einstein Hospital, Philadelphia by clicking on this link. 


10. Cleveland Clinic, Ohio

The next on the list is Cleveland Clinic, located in Cleveland, Ohio. This is more than a hundred-year-old hospital. They have a reputed adult cardiac program. If you’re interested in adult cardiology, this is a great program. You should keep this in mind.

You can apply for an observership at Cleveland Clinic, Ohio by clicking on this link. 

How do I get an observership in the USA as an IMG?

When you click the link under the individual hospital above, you will see what all documents are required. Here are the things you require to apply

  • Profile Picture
  • Personal statement: This is a one-page document describing all about yourself. This is not a CV or a resume.  This is a summary of your accomplishments on one page.
  • CV: Updated, and edited with no typos or grammatical errors
  • Letter of Recommendation: 2-3
  • Passport Copy
  • Medical Degree Diploma
  • Internship Certificate
  • Specialization Certificate (if already specialized)
  • Vaccination Documentation including COVID Vaccine

When you apply through the above links, you can mention the specialty you like to rotate and you will get directed to your specialty of interest. This will make your life easy. If selected, you will hear back from the program. It helps if you have any personal contacts in these hospitals since it increases your credibility to be offered an observership.

This article was originally published in IMGSecrets.com. If this is found elsewhere this is stolen content.

What are the benefits for IMGs with observership in the USA?

There are many benefits for IMGs in USA & Canada.

  • Rotating through these hospitals as an observer will improve the credibility of your CV when you apply for residency or fellowship (some hospitals may have limitations on how you can use this experience)and will help you as an IMG when you apply for residency matching through National Residency Matching Program or NRMP. (Remember some programs may have restrictions on how you will use this observership experience)
  • You can put this on your CV, which will make your fellowship match competitive
  • You establish US connections
  • These observership programs can also be a stepping stone for getting into a clinical fellowship and potentially into an alternate entry path for primary certification. 
  • You never know, you may even be offered a Letter of Recommendation!

Which visa is required for observership in the USA?

IMGs enter clinical work either on a J-1, H1B, or an O Visa. The visa IMGs need for the observership program is typically B1/B2. There are a few other visa types that are eligible but the most common ones I have seen are B1/B2. I am not a professional immigration specialist but I am saying this based on my personal experience.

The observership program does not sponsor any visa. So you want to have your own visa. You also need some funds to stay in the US and also to take care of your food and travel. So plan all your expenses accordingly when you’re coming in for an observership program because these are not supported by the hospital.

Observership vs. Clerkship for IMGs

Observership is an informal passive observation of the clinical work that goes on. There is no active clinical involvement. On the other hand, clerkship is something that final-year medical students do. Clerkship is a hands-on clinical experience.

When you’re going through an observership, you have to remember this is not clerkship, meaning you cannot do the following

  • Cannot have any physical contact with patients
  • Cannot do any clinical care
  • Cannot do any procedures
  • Cannot place any orders.

Here are the things you can do during observership

  • You can stand at the bedside when the rounds are on
  • Listen to the discussion about clinical care
  • Attend grand rounds for the department
  • Be a part of journal club case discussions and other non-patient-related activities
  • Have lunch or dinner with US consultants to get insight into the US healthcare system


How much is the observership fee in the USA for IMGs?

These elite programs charge fees for the observership. They could have an initial application fee or fees for the duration of the observership or both. When you apply for observer ship you may want to plan for these expenses. The actual dollar amount is variable. However, if you are an IMG from a low-income country and have difficulty funding for this, you can ask the hospitals if they are willing to waive part or the whole observership fees. I have personally seen the fees be waived if you have a strong reason.

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Are any exams required for the IMG observerships?

For the observer ship, you do not need to take any exams. Since the role is to serve exclusively as an observer without direct patient interaction, USMLE or MCCQE1 examinations are not required.

If you like to settle eventually in the USA or Canada, then you will have to complete the requisite exams and do the necessary steps to complete training or get an unrestricted license or both.

Check Other Related Topics

Top 10 IMG Friendly Specialties in the USA

Specialties That Are Difficult for IMGs to Match

Dr. Rajeev Iyer, MBBS, MD, FASA
Associate Professor of Anesthesiology
University of Pennsylvania, USA

This article is the opinion of the author and does not representethe opinion of University of Pennsylvania or any other organization. 

4 thoughts on “10 Elite US Hospitals Open Doors for IMG Observerships”

  1. Pingback: 10 Tips to Match Into a Top Canadian Residency Program | IMG Secrets

  2. Pingback: How to Become a Doctor in Canada as an IMG? | IMG Secrets

  3. Thank you so much. The information is valuable.
    I did my MD Pathology and recently completed fellowship in Clinical Hematology in India. Now I came to US on H4 visa. My work permit will be issued in next 5-6 months. Please guide me on opportunities in USA.

    1. You are very welcome. Do you mean an EAD? You could do observership or fellowship but this would depend on your CV, background etc. If interested to discuss the exact steps so you dont miss out any opportunities you can book an appointment at Calendly.com/IMGSecrets.
      Best Wishes,
      The IMG Secrets Team

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