AmeriClerkships: Challenges for International Medical Graduates in the United States

Numerous physicians who graduate from foreign universities wish to practice medicine in the United States. Many countries do not have the resources necessary for the efficacious practice of medicine, mostly due to economic constraints. By choosing to complete residencies in the United States, medical graduates learn about the most cutting-edge medicines and techniques. Americans spend more money on medical development and research than any other country, making the United States an ideal place for physicians to further their careers. Unfortunately, these medical professionals often face a number of challenges, beginning with gaining acceptance into a residency program. Places in American residency programs are limited, and competition has become exceedingly fierce in recent years. Before applying, international medical graduates must obtain a travel visa to complete an exam and then secure an additional visa after finding a suitable program.

Once an international medical graduate arrives at his or her place of residency, the student faces a number of other hardships. In addition to dealing with possible prejudice, the individual must struggle with different customs, new cultural concerns, a foreign language, and an altered value system. In the end, however, the student must remember that diversity means strength and that these initial struggles will prove invaluable assets in the future. An average of one in four residents participating in a given program in the U.S. studied internationally, and facilities have grown accustomed to easing transitions. Still, the student must remain proactive, seeking help and guidance whenever necessary. Often, international medical graduates feel completely overwhelmed by the transition to the United States, but they must retain the confidence that got them through medical school. They experienced success in their respective countries and can do so again. Eventually, the feeling of foreignness fades as an individual becomes accustomed to a new culture and embraces new conventions.

The most important piece of advice that anyone can offer is to never fear asking for help and seeking out those organizations created to ease the transition, offer guidance, and address concerns before they become real problems. International medical graduates are not alone in facing the challenges of finding a residency, emigrating, and adapting to life in the United States.

About AmeriClerkships

In order to give international medical graduates an advantage in the residency application process, AmeriClerkships pairs qualified individuals with attending physicians for pre-residency clinical training. After each clinical block, supervisors evaluate program participants according to the 11 medical competencies that they use to assess residents. Many residency programs now expect international medical graduates to pursue such training, making AmeriClerkships an invaluable asset for these students.

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