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Foreign-born Doctors Care on Par With U.S. Trained Physicians

A recent study in the journal Health Affairs found that foreign-born doctors educated in other countries offered care on par with physicians trained in the United States.


2010-08-19
August 19, 2010 (Press-News.org) Medical schools in the United States are considered to be some of the best in the world. As a result, there is a tendency to believe that doctors trained outside of the United States will somehow offer care that is inferior to physicians educated in the U.S. However, a recent study in the journal Health Affairs seems to contradict this assumption.

According to the American Medical Association, graduates of international medical schools have been an integral part of the medical community since the 1940s. Today, of the roughly 950,000 doctors practicing in the U.S., there are over 240,000 foreign-trained doctors among them.

The Health Affairs study found that patients treated by foreign-born doctors who were educated in other countries receive treatment equal to patients who were treated by doctors educated in the United States. Doctors born in the U.S. who trained at an international medical school and returned home to practice, however, did not fare as well. The study found that those doctors ranked last in terms of quality of care.

Over 244,000 cases in Pennsylvania, with patients suffering from heart attacks or congestive heart failure, were reviewed as part of this study. The report measured level of care by length of hospital stay and mortality rates.

According to the AMA and The New York Times, graduates of international medical schools make up 25 percent of practicing physicians in the United States. Nearly 20 percent of those international graduates are American citizens who have chosen to go abroad to medical school for one reason or another.

Facing the Stigma

Though doctors born and trained in other countries must pass the same tests and undergo the same residency requirements to be licensed in the United States, they have long faced a stigma of being less competent than other doctors.

According to Dr. John J. Norcini, first author of the Health Affairs study and president of the Foundation for Advancement of International Medical Education and Research, this assumption was initially based on lower training exam scores. But by the mid-1990s, he notes, foreign-born doctors were outperforming their peers on these tests.

Filling the Doctor Shortage

Many studies have shown that the United States will face a shortage of doctors in coming decades. A recent report by The Wall Street Journal notes that in the U.S. there is expected to be a shortfall of over 150,000 doctors in the next 15 years.

Experts say this is one reason that international medical school graduates are so important to our health care system; they fill in the gaps where American educated doctors do not go. According to The New York Times, nearly 30 percent of the primary care workforce is filled by international graduates, an area that has substantial difficulty attracting graduates of American medical schools.

Article provided by Ronald J. Bua & Associates
Visit us at www.ronaldbua.com

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[Press-News.org] Foreign-born Doctors Care on Par With U.S. Trained Physicians
A recent study in the journal Health Affairs found that foreign-born doctors educated in other countries offered care on par with physicians trained in the United States.
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