Visitor Programs Suspended

Due to COVID-19, all visitor programs are suspended until further notice. Please visit us again for updates.

The Observership program is an informal shadowing experience that enables participants to watch procedures and surgeries; attend patient rounds and teaching conferences; and have full access to Cleveland Clinic’s medical library system. Federal regulations prevent observers from having patient care responsibilities or involvement in any form of volunteer research.

Who is Eligible?

The International Physician Observer Program is open to:

  • Fully trained international physicians and specialists currently practicing abroad.
  • International residents and fellows currently enrolled in a residency/fellowship program at a foreign institution and who are expected to graduate from that same institution.
  • International medical students currently enrolled at an international medical school and who are expected to graduate from that same school.

Foreign medical graduates residing in the U.S. or abroad who intend to apply for residency or fellowship in the U.S. may only be considered for our Global Clinical Observer Program.


  • 1,200 program applications received annually
  • 800 international physicians and medical students selected every year to participate in the program
  • 25+ clinical and surgical specialties in which participants can engage
  • 65+ nationalities represented by our visiting observers


Available Specialties

Observership opportunities are offered by the following Cleveland Clinic departments:

  • Cardiovascular Imaging
  • Clinical Cardiology
  • Head & Neck Surgery
  • Medical Intensive Care
  • Neonatology
  • Ophthalmology*
  • Pediatric Intensive Care Unit
  • Plastic Surgery
  • Pulmonary Medicine

All available specialties are included in a drop-down list on the application form.

If the specialty you are interested in is not listed above, please visit the International Preceptorship Program section.

* Post-Residency Applicants Only

Duration & Fee

Duration & Fee


The length of the program typically is one month.


All applications require a $500 processing fee.



How to Apply to the International Physician Observer Program

  1. Observership applications are presented to one specialty only; please select the one specialty that reflects your area of expertise or that you are most interested in
  2. Refer to the schedule below and select an application period most appropriate for you
  3. Create an account [All visitor programs are suspended until further notice due to COVID-19]
  4. Complete the application form and submit all required documents before the close date of the period you are applying to
  5. Pay the fee
Application periods 2021 Online application open date Online application close date Expected notification of final decision
Period 1: Jan, Feb, March & April 2021 Canceled Canceled Canceled
Period 2: May, June, July & Aug 2021 Canceled Canceled Canceled
Period 3: Sept, Oct, Nov & Dec 2021 (tentative) Feb 1, 2021 May 31, 2021 June 28, 2021

Requests for final decisions earlier than the notification dates listed in the last column above cannot be accommodated under any circumstances.

Application Policies

  • Each applicant is responsible for ensuring their application is complete.
  • The Review Committee will not consider any additional changes once an application has been submitted for review.
  • Applicants are responsible for ensuring that all information and supporting documents provided are authentic and accurate.
  • We reserve the right to request additional information or verification of information and documents submitted. If an applicant is unable to do so, we reserve the right to withdraw consideration of the application.
  • Applicants assume all costs associated with authenticating, retrieving and submitting documents and material in support of their application and fulfillment of observership.
  • Due to the large volume of applications we receive, we are unable to provide feedback to candidates who are not accepted into the program.
Documents Required to Apply

Documents Required to Apply

  • Up-to-date CV/Resume.
  • Personal Statement – one page addressing your interest in this program.
  • Two Letters of Recommendation.
    • One can be from the dean of your medical school, attesting to academic and other relevant accomplishments.
    • One can be from a physician, attesting to academic and other relevant accomplishments.
    • You may provide a recommendation letter concerning medical activities performed in countries other than your own, but it is not required.

All documents submitted must be in:

  • English
  • PDF, DOC or DOCX format