Answers to Frequently Asked Questions

How do I know if the CIME education programs are for me?
CIME programs are open to ALL physicians and medical students from all over the world. However, some programs have been exclusively designed to meet the specific needs of fully trained physicians, residents, fellows, etc. We encourage you to carefully review appropriate program information and eligibility.

Can I participate in Cleveland Clinic’s CME conferences during my visit to Cleveland?
Yes, all CME conferences offered at Cleveland Clinic are open to our visitors. For more information, please visit our Center for Education website.

What do you recommend if the specialty that I am interested in is not listed under any of your programs?
If your specialty is not included on our website, please email us at or visit our International Preceptorship Program.

I am interested in starting an education program between Cleveland Clinic and my institution. What is my first step?
We would be delighted to learn about the program you have in mind. Email us at with more information.

What is the difference between the International Physician Observer Program and the Global Clinical Observer Program?
While both programs involve shadowing Cleveland Clinic physicians, the main difference is found in the participant’s ultimate goal. The International Physician Observer program is open to international medical students, residents, fellows and fully trained physicians interested in visiting Cleveland Clinic and who will ultimately return to their countries to share their experience with their colleagues. The Global Clinical Observer program provides international medical graduates with a comprehensive visit through various internal medicine subspecialties and introduces participants to the U.S. healthcare system; this program is for qualified individuals wishing to pursue residency in the United States.

What is the difference between a Medical Student Clinical Elective and an Observership?
Medical students in their final year who have completed their Step 1 USMLE may qualify to apply to the Medical Student Elective Program, offered through the Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine. The Elective Program provides a hands-on experience with academic credit.

I am an international medical graduate and would like to apply to the International Physician Observer Program. I am not enrolled in medical school or currently practicing in a medical institution. Can I still apply?
No. The International Physician Observer Program is designed for professionals, residents, fellows and medical students that would like to visit Cleveland Clinic for a world-class shadowing experience in a particular specialty. Visitors under the International Physician Observer Program are expected to return to their home institutions upon completion of their rotation. As such, a letter of verification of enrollment/employment is necessary in order to submit an application.

What are the requirements of the “letter of verification” request?
Your letter of verification must be on company letterhead, addressed to Cleveland Clinic and either:

  • An official letter from your university attesting to your current and active enrollment in the medical school program, along with expected date of graduation, or
  • An official letter from your hospital employer indicating your current and active employment as an attending or registration in the residency or fellowship program

What is the format for the “letters of recommendation” in support of my observership application?
The letters must be:

  • Issued within the past 12 months
  • Printed on physician’s or dean’s office letterhead with appropriate signatures

Letters of recommendation received from medical activities performed in countries other than your own country are also accepted.

Will I receive a letter of recommendation or be evaluated upon completion of my observership?
No. The limitations of being an observer at Cleveland Clinic do not allow for adequate assessment of clinical and surgical skill sets. As such, observers will shadow under the supervision of a Staff physician without the expectation of receiving a letter, telephone call or any other form of certification. However, CIME presents all observers with a certificate of attendance in the program.

Is there a dorm, or do you provide housing?
No, we do not have on-campus housing. All personal expenses related to participating in an observership program are the visitor’s responsibility.

If I am not accepted into the International Physician Observership Program, Global Clinical Observership Program or Global Surgical Observership Program, can my application fee be refunded or rolled over to the next period?
No. Our program application fees are paid by all applicants and are non-refundable, regardless of whether or not the department is able to accept the applicant. Each fee paid is applicable only to the period that the prospective observer has applied to.

May I attend an observership program for more than one month?
CIME and our departments generally schedule one-month opportunities because much longer visits yield fewer benefits, and our highly competitive programs have a limited number of spots available per month.

Is it possible to waive the processing fee, or give me a scholarship?
CIME is unable to waive the processing fees or offer any scholarships to prospective visitors. All international visitors observing in Cleveland Clinic medical departments are responsible for paying the processing fees.

How do I arrange for an observership at Cleveland Clinic Florida or Abu Dhabi?
CIME facilitates observerships only at Cleveland Clinic main campus, Cleveland, Ohio, USA. Get more information on observerships at other campuses:

What type of visa do I need? Will Cleveland Clinic help me get my visa?
Effective April 1, 2017, observerships require a B1 Visa. On your orientation, you will need to provide your I-94 to show proof of your B1 visa status. Please ensure that when you arrive in the U.S., you state to the customs officer that you are here to do an observership under a B1 visa. You will need to bring a copy of your I-94 to your orientation appointment stating this.

Please note that you will not be able to start your observership until we have proof of a B1 status.

To confirm that you are in the U.S. in a status appropriate for an observership, please visit Obtain I-94 to retrieve the record of your entry into the U.S. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us at 216.445.1711.

If granted a B2 visa (tourist visa), you must contact U.S. Customs at Hopkins Airport to have your visa status revised. Please call 216.267.3600 (select option #1) and explain what you are doing at Cleveland Clinic and indicate that the status should be revised as permitted by the Foreign Affairs Manual.