Doctor with stethoscope

The United States will be short about 60,000 doctors by 2015 according to the Association of American Medical Colleges, and implementation of the Affordable Care Act will also require more primary care physicians. Foreign-trained doctors can help fill that that gap — but the process of getting licensed in the U.S. can be expensive and time-consuming. We’ll examine the role foreign medical graduates can play in filling doctor shortages.

Jose Ramon Fernandez-Pena, associate professor in the Department of Health Education at San Francisco State University and director of the Welcome Back Initiative, an international health worker assistance center
Atul Grover, doctor and chief public policy officer with the Association of American Medical Colleges
Bill Kelly, acting vice president for operations with the Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates
Nadia Fouladian, physician from Iran

  • Mani

    Allow residency training to be done overseas for US citizens ONLY and validate their training by requiring them to pass the board examinations. Once the physicians pass the board examinations (in addition to USMLE steps 1, 2 and 3), they should be eligible for medical license. This path to licensing can be restricted to primary care fields only and as a condition for licensing, the physician must serve in underserved communities for some time period (say three years). Further, this path to medical licensure should be restricted to US citizens only else sham marriages for green card will ensue. A number of our talented citizens who could get admission into US medical colleges are not pursuing medical schooling at foreign universities as they are unsure of securing the required one or two years of residency at the US or Canada teaching hospitals.

  • geraldfnord

    The medical doctors seem to be a lot better at preƫmpting competition from foreigners than are we engineers; their higher social status and more powerful and tight professional association probably have most to do with that. (There are powerful software associations, but they are of Capital, not Labour, and our interests are not as close to each other as in [e.g.] a start-up.). I have a bifurcated reaction, on one hand thinking that we need to stop their doing that and on the other hand wishing we could pick up a few pointers.

  • Chomsky_P

    Jose is mistaken on a number of points. Most importantly, “we” did not decide to ensure a very high level of safety. Instead, the AMA controls entry into the medical profession and sets the level of safety for everyone even though I would prefer a cheaper and perhaps less safe option. Instead, that is illegal in this country.

    Furthermore, if the licensing process were all about safety, then med students would be tested on quality only rather than forcing them to jump through a difficult training process on top of difficult tests. The AMA controls entry into their field, and they restrict entry to ensure quality, yes, but also to keep wages high, and this is criminal. THey deserve the blame along with the legislators that grant them complete control over the medical profession.

  • hani

    Hi I am A what you may call foreign medical graduate( from med school with no additional training) and completed my residency here in California, am practicing now like several of my colleagues (at least 50 or more that I know myself), the ECFMG certification is a I agree a little rigorous but I feel that it a good method of standardization of the process, or else there would not be a way to know who comes from what level of training…..I feel that may be if ECFMG could have a expedited tract and a way to accredit the credentials of physcians with higher graduate degrees (post graduates and physicians who have more several years of experience abroad it would help a little. For me personally and several other friends that I know and work with the residency was an absolutely necessary great and meaninful experience before you start working here in the US. thx

  • TrainedHistorian

    They are avoiding the real problem: there would be no shortage of US physicians if the medical raining process were not so outrageously expensive and the residency process so punishing! (Residents are sleep deprived from overloaded schedules).Most middle and lower income Americans simply cannot risk taking on the crazy debt levels now required of the medical training process. Med schools & universities are responsible for not keeping training costs under reasonable control.

    As usual, the powers that be keep turning to foreigners so as to avoid helping the lower income folks already here.

    Also, what’s up with the concern that American doctors would be culturally insensitive to “Latino” patients (aren’t they mainly Americans?) but not that foreign doctors would be culturally insensitive to American patients, especially in the underserved areas like rural or inner city America?

    • Zaker

      In medicine there is no black or white/ Latino or Asian… you have to consider this my friend!

  • Reshma. Hyder

    My oldest daughter is pursuing the regular route for dentistry which uses all time /resource/money while my two boys decided to go abroad to study Medicine (5yrs with wards in 3rd year) they are 22,21,19 but very mature and focused……all have passion for dental /medical careers. I wonder how my sons who are graduates of a top CA highschool and have served at Lucile Packard hospital Stanford during high school be treated once they complete medicine abroad and return here?

  • Zaker

    I think there are many factors and issues that must be considered and studied by the relevant parties before taking any action. For a foreign medical student planning for a residency program in the US he/she must pass many exams (ECFMG); those exams are time and money consuming. It is unfair to change policies built up many years within days. Also many researches stated that physicians who had their MD degree outside the US are equally or even more qualified than US medical students.

Sponsored by

Become a KQED sponsor