When Foreign Educated Physicians (FEPs) move to the United States, they face many barriers that make it extremely difficult to establish their practice as US-certified medical doctors. First, foreign-born physicians must reside in the US for two years before they are eligible to obtain the appropriate Visa needed to practice as an MD. They must also pass two parts of the US Medical Licensing Examination, and match with and complete a residency program – a highly competitive process, as many American-trained physicians can attest to.
Because the process can become lengthy and expensive, many FEPs find themselves either accepting less qualified positions as CNAs or phlebotomists or leaving the medical field altogether in pursuit of other low-paying jobs in order to provide for their families.
In lieu of these obstacles, Florida International University offers the FEP to BSN/MSN Program, which trains foreign doctors to become nurse practitioners or registered nurses. While a handful of universities offer educational options for FEPs to train as registered nurses at the Associate and Bachelor’s level, FIU was the first on the scene to offer an MSN option. Graduates of its program are given the opportunity to reemerge as providers treating patients in specialties such as family, adult, pediatrics and mental health; in addition to earning a substantial salary.
Admission and Application Requirements
Acceptance into the program is extremely competitive. On average, the school receives over 400 applications a year from candidates from more than thirty countries around the world, but only accepts 50 cohorts each fall. To be eligible for the program, applicants must be US citizens or residents and must also have a medical degree from an accredited non-US university, in addition to meeting other application requirements for entry into the program.
Before beginning the application process, candidates must have their transcripts evaluated by the National Association of Credential Evaluations Services (NACES) and schedule an advisement appointment with the FIU School of Nursing, at which time the school will review translated transcripts to determine the FEP’s eligibility and what prerequisites will be required.
After the FEP has completed the required prerequisites with a “C” or better, he or she must complete an undergraduate application with FIU and supply official transcripts. Candidates are also required take the FEP Nursing Entrance Exam, as well as an English language exam or complete two English language courses in order to show the capacity to communicate in English. Provided applicants can attain the required scores on both tests, they are then eligible to apply to the FEP BS/MSN Program through an online application and a two page essay. Qualified applicants are then invited participate in an interview with the admissions committee.
Once accepted into the program, the accelerated curriculum allows students to earn their MSN degree and become nurse practitioners in as little as eight semesters over the course of three years (as opposed to traditional programs which can take up to six years). However, students do have the option to choose not to continue in the graduate track and only obtain a BSN degree after the first two years of the program.
Though the program is full time, the school takes into account that many of its students must continue working while completing the program; with this in mind, classes are offered in the evenings and online, with clinical instruction on the weekends.
Upon graduation and completion of the program, students are eligible to take the NCLEX through the Florida Board of Nursing.
Graduates of the program at FIU are highly marketable and coveted by hospitals and employers throughout Florida as well as United States, as they are essentially doctors and nurses rolled into one. In addition, many graduates are bilingual or speak as many as three to five languages; a great advantage that helps graduates provide better patient care to the United States’ diverse population. In addition, graduates of the program are able to help bridge the gap between the shortage in health care providers and the country’s increasing population.