Posts Tagged 'foreign medical graduates'

AmeriClerkships: Trials Faced by Foreign Medical Graduates in the United States

Historically, foreign medical graduates have faced significant challenges in obtaining residencies and entering the American medical workforce. These physicians continue to struggle with limited residency spots, visa restrictions, and widespread prejudice, despite the fact that they have proven an invaluable asset to many aspects of medicine in the United States. Studies have shown that medical graduates from schools outside of the United States are more likely to practice in medically underserved areas than physicians educated in America. Currently, foreign physicians comprise almost half of all doctors serving in inner-city or large metropolitan areas. In addition, foreign doctors constitute a disproportionately large percentage of general practitioners in the nation.

While many foreign medical graduates continue to fight for positions in American residency programs, those now practicing have demonstrated a high level of competence. Many of the nation’s largest medical organizations feature a high percentage of international physicians, and these professionals hold leadership positions increasingly often. In recent years, international medical graduates have also consistently performed better than those who graduated from American schools on standardized tests taken in coordination with residencies.

When considering coming to the United States for a residency, individuals from foreign institutions must obtain travel visas to come here and take an exam required for entry into residency programs. This alone proves difficult for many applicants, especially those from the Middle East and South Asia. After securing admission to a program, these individuals must then obtain a long-term visa. The popular J-1 visa requires that the individual return to his or her country of origin after completing the academic program. Many American residency programs cap the number of foreign medical professionals that they will accept, increasing the competition in an already fierce contest. Congress effectively capped the number of residency positions open in the United States more than a decade ago by limiting the funding that the federal government could offer programs. Until Congress reexamines this figure, programs will remain very competitive.

About AmeriClerkships

AmeriClerkships offers foreign medical students the opportunity to work with a variety of medical professionals in several different specialties in order to pursue pre-residency clinical training. These experiences enable international students to transition more easily into the American medical system and provide a serious advantage in the residency application process. For more information about AmeriClerkships, including participant requirements and program options, visit


AmeriClerkships: The Looming Physician Shortage and Foreign Medical Graduates

President Barack Obama’s recent health care reforms aim to increase overall access to health care while reducing the associated cost. Unfortunately, the United States already suffers from a shortage of primary care physicians, and the demand for more will grow sharply in the coming years as the government implements the reforms. The Association of American Medical Colleges expects a shortage of more than 91,000 doctors by 2020, a figure that has more than doubled from previous estimates due to expanded coverage. Part of the problem lies in the fact that graduates from American medical schools generally choose to pursue specialties, which earn more money than general practitioner positions. Many even feel forced to do this, anxious about the student loans that await them in the future.

Many people have suggested turning to foreign medical graduates in order to minimize the shortage of family doctors. Unfortunately, restrictive licensing rules and limited slots in American residency programs keep many foreign medical graduates from practicing in the United States. Those who wish to practice in American facilities must complete at least three years of residency here, but many applicants get turned away. In the European Union, partnerships exist between countries to import medical professionals to areas most in need. While the United States has a similar arrangement with Canada, graduates of institutions in other nations often face great difficulties in finding a residency program. Before these medical graduates can apply for the residency, they must travel to the United States and pass an exam. Many, especially those from the Middle East and South Asia, have trouble securing a travel visa in order to take the exam. If accepted into a program, students must then obtain another visa. The J-1 visa for education, however, requires that applicants leave the United States after training, defeating the purpose of completing a residency here.

The federal government’s Medicare program subsidizes hospital training programs, effectively giving Congress the power to control the number of available residency positions. Many foreign medical graduates are unable to gain entrance to residency programs due to a 1997 cap on Medicare-supported positions. Congress declared it would pay for only 98,000 residency slots. Since that time, the number of available residency slots has not grown at the same rate as the American population. Most of that expansion, furthermore, represents opportunities in advanced fields, not family medicine. Foreign medical graduates now fill about one in four residency positions, but that figure will decrease as more Americans choose to attend medical school. Many have proposed that Congress fund more residency slots, but that will detract from the funding that goes to health care subsidies. As the need for general practitioners increases, however, the United States will need to reach beyond its borders for new physicians.

About AmeriClerkships

AmeriClerkships matches pre-qualified foreign medical graduates with attending physicians and other medical professionals, allowing them to gain pre-residency clinical experience in a variety of specialties. This experience gives clinical trainees a serious competitive advantage when looking for a residency; in addition, several programs actually require foreign medical graduates to complete such training. After finishing clinical training through AmeriClerkships, international medical graduates receive an evaluation of their performance from their supervisor, who uses the same criteria applied to residents.

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