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International Physician Observer Program

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.

Available Specialties

Observership opportunities are offered by the following Cleveland Clinic departments:

  • Abdominal Imaging
  • Cardiac Intensive Care1
  • Cardiovascular Imaging
  • Clinical Cardiology
  • Colorectal Surgery
  • Head & Neck Surgery
  • Heart Failure1
  • Interventional Cardiology1
  • Medical Intensive Care
  • Musculoskeletal Imaging
  • Neonatology
  • Neuroradiology
  • Nuclear Medicine
  • Ophthalmology1
  • Orthopaedic Surgery1
  • Pediatric Intensive Care Unit
  • Plastic Surgery
  • Pulmonary Medicine
  • Sports Health (Orthopaedics)1
  • Thoracic & Cardiovascular Surgery 1
  • Thoracic Imaging
  • Vascular Surgery

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.

1Post-Residency Applicants Only


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


The length of the program typically is one month. 
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 US or abroad who intend to apply for residency or fellowship in the US may only be considered for our Global Clinical Observer Program.
All applications require a $500 non-refundable processing fee.

How to Apply for 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.

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 Online application open date Online application close date Expected notification of final decision
Period 1: January, February, March, April  2018 June 30, 2017 Oct. 31, 2017 Nov. 10, 2017

Period 2: May, June, July and August 2018

Nov. 6, 2017 Feb. 16, 2018

March 16, 2018

Period 3: September, October, November, December 2018

Feb. 23, 2018

June 8, 2018

July 13, 2018

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




  • 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.