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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 Medical Intensive Care Plastic Surgery
Anesthesia, General 1 Musculoskeletal Imaging Pulmonary Medicine
Breast Services Neonatology Sleep Disorders Center
Cardiac Intensive Care1 Neuroradiology
Sports Health (Orthopaedics)1
Cardiovascular Imaging Nuclear Medicine Thoracic & Cardiovascular Surgery 1
Colorectal Surgery Ophthalmology1 Thoracic Imaging
Dermatology Orthopaedic Surgery 1 Vascular Surgery
Head & Neck Surgery Pain Management Vascular Medicine
Heart Failure1 Pediatric Intensive Care Unit
Interventional Cardiology1 Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation

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


3,000 program applications received annually

800 international physicians and medical students selected every year to participate in the program

35+ 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.



A $500 non-refundable processing fee will be charged for all applications beginning January 1, 2016.
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.   

2016 - 2017 Calendar Year  

Application Periods Online application open date Online application close date Expected Notification of Final Decision

Period 1 (2016): January, February, March, April  2016


October 16, 2015

November 6, 2015

Period 2: May, June, July and August 2016

CLOSED February 19, 2016

 March 18, 2016

Period 3: September, October, November, December 2016


June 10, 2016

July 8, 2016

Period 1 (2017): January, February, March, April  2017  CLOSED  October 14, 2016  November 11, 2016

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

Frequently Asked Questions about this Program

Program FAQs offer answers to commonly asked questions about the International Physician Observer Program.

View Program FAQs


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