The Syrian American Medical Society (SAMS) Clinical Observership Program aims to acculturate International Medical Graduates to American medical practices and help prepare them for residency

The program follows the American Medical Association International Medical Graduates (AMA-IMG) section observership guidelines. This program is based on the Oklahoma State Medical Association’s IMG observership and the American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin observership program. SAMS offers this non-for-profit program in several states.

Application Instructions:

Interested candidates can apply by filling out the SAMS Observership Application and providing the necessary documentation. Applications will be reviewed by the SAMS Observership Committee and applicants will be accepted for a 1-2 month rotation upon approval. By the end of the observership, both preceptors and observers are required to submit an evaluation form to the observership committee.

  • SAMS will not pay a salary or stipend to the observers.
  • SAMS will consider supporting the candidate to pay the program fees, however, lodging, boarding, and transportation are the responsibility of the observer.
  • Depending on the performance of the observer, he/she might obtain a Letter of Recommendation from the preceptor.
  • All observers will be awarded a Certificate of Completion upon the completion of the observership.
  • Observe how the preceptor physician interacts with patients, takes history, performs the physical examination, orders labs, and imaging, reaches a diagnosis, and finalizing the management plan.
  • Learn new bedside history taking and physical examination skills by shadowing U.S. trained graduates and board-certified staff with different specialties.
  • Study professional communication and interaction between the physician and all members of the health care delivery team and hospital administration.
  • Understand and use American colloquialisms (slang, euphemisms, medical jargon, etc.).
  • Observe the delivery of health care in private practice, hospital, or clinical setting.
  • Introduction to and cultivation of the six competencies recommended by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME). Residents in residency training are evaluated based on these competencies:
    • Patient Care
    • Medical Knowledge
    • Practice-Based Learning and Improvement
    • Systems-Based Practice
    • Professionalism
    • Interpersonal Skills and Communication


  • Must be a graduate of an international medical school.
  • Must hold a valid U.S. visa, green card, temporary protection status (TPS), or be an American citizen.
  • Passing at least one of the United States Medical Licensing Examinations (USMLE) Step 1, Step 2 CK, or Step 2 CS. However, few programs might require an ECFMG certificate at the time of application. (I.e. completed step 1, 2CK, and Step 2CS).
  • Send at least 1 reference letter by a physician practicing in the U.S. This can be a resident physician.
  • Be proficient in English.
  • Fees: There are no fees for SAMS Observership applications; however, some institutions require fees for the observership. The applicant will be responsible for these fees and has to pay them after acceptance into an observership position.

Required documents:

  • Completed SAMS observership application form
  • Copy of a valid U.S. visa
  • Copy of medical school diploma and medical school transcript
  • USMLE scores and ECFMG certificate if available.

SAMS’s Role:

  • Establish the Observership Program guidelines and selection criteria.
  • Promote the program to interested observers and preceptors.
  • Review observer and preceptor applications.
  • Match observers and preceptors based on established criteria and prerequisite items. (Complete application, hospital/department chair approval, current visa, passing a certain USMLE test, etc.).
  • Review preceptors’ and observers’ evaluation forms.
  • Issue a certificate of completion to the observer.
  • Support the application with institutional fees (if applicable).

Responsibilities of Physician Preceptors:

  • Effectively communicate with observers about their roles and responsibilities while in the program.
  • Assure that the observer adheres to the requirements of the program.
  • Introduce the observer to the patient and obtain the patient’s verbal consent to allow observation of clinical interaction.
  • Document in the patient’s medical record that an observer is present during the patient encounter after retrieving permission from the patient.
  • Obtain prior approval from the appropriate authority for the observation of surgery or other procedures (if applicable).
  • Provide feedback and complete a formal evaluation of the observer.

Physician Preceptors must be:

  • Licensed, preferably board-certified physicians who volunteer for a specified period of time.
  • Licensed physicians with current hospital privileges and permission from his/her hospital, office manager, or GME office to host an observer.

Responsibilities of Observers:

  • Must show interest in the program and professionalism in their conduct and assigned tasks.
  • Accept no compensation.
  • Follow the rules and the regulations of the hospital, clinic, or private practice and follow the instructions of the preceptor physician at all times.
  • Adhere to Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPPA) regulations.
  • Participate in any prerequisite training (e.g., HIPAA) at the hospital, clinic, or private practice.
  • Pay for actual costs of administrative or prerequisite items (ECFMG certification, passport, immunizations, etc.).
  • Participate in educational activities such as clinical tutorials, ward rounds, morning reports, and multi-disciplinary conferences.
  • Observe the use of electronic medical information systems, health records, laboratory, and radiology reports, etc.
  • Review clinical articles, posters, and publications per the discretion of the preceptor.
  • Arrange for transportation, meals, and lodging.
  • Record observership hours and confirm your schedule and responsibilities with the preceptor regularly.

Click here to download the application form for observers

Click here to download the application form for preceptors

To apply to the observership program, please email the completed application form along with the required documents in PDF form to Please put “observership application enclosed for First Name, Last Name” in the subject line. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us at

* Application submission does not guarantee acceptance.