More Than Half Of Primary Care Doctor Grads Are Immigrants

"Nationally, about a quarter of all residency graduates began their medical training abroad. And in primary care - where there is a national shortage of physicians - more than half of all graduates are immigrants," The Concord Monitor reports. "New Hampshire's primary care doctors are aging, and as they retire, recruiters said they will increasingly be replaced by physicians who began their training outside the country."

"In order to be licensed in the U.S., foreign-trained doctors must pass the same medical boards as U.S. medical school graduates. Then, they must attend the same residency training programs, where they are taught on the job. When they apply for slots at places like Dartmouth-Hitchcock Clinic or Concord Hospital, they send the same test scores and supervisor references as domestic grads. Dr. Ted Epperly, the president of the American Academy of Family Physicians and a residency director in Boise, Idaho, said he expects to see a continuing rise in the number of international pediatricians, internal medicine doctors and family physicians unless health care reform radically changes incentives for U.S.-trained doctors to enter those specialties. For many American graduates, primary care work is unappealing because it pays significantly less than other fields."

Dr. Omotayo Akinmade, who is from Nigeria, says many patients choose to see him, but "he still sees patients who see his dark skin and his accent and worry about his qualifications. 'Many of them actually don't want to see me, but I try to calm their fears,' he said" (Sanger-Katz, 7/22).

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