Article Review: Foreign Medical Graduates

I recently read an article from TIME Health entitled “Doctors Who Trained Abroad Are Better At Their Jobs, Study Says”. A fellow classmate posted this article on Facebook and I was instantly interested in what it had to say. I want to state a disclaimer before I begin: this is not a post about me bashing US medical graduates. I am not saying that international medical docs are better than US docs, or vice-versa. All of us are in this together for the common goal of treating patients and advocating for their well-being. At the end of the day, we are all the same: MEDICAL DOCTORS. It does not matter where we came from or how we got there — all that matters is that we put in the work to get to where are are, and we are full of passion for our jobs.

With all of that being said… I’d like to begin with a quote from the article that really stood out to me:

“We’re setting a really high bar for foreign trained doctors to come to the U.S. to practice,” Tsugawa says. “They have to pass three exams, which cost more than $3,000.” Foreign medical school graduates ( FMGs) have about a 50% chance of matching into a residency program in the U.S., while graduates of American medical schools match at a rate north of 90%. And in most cases, international students have to do their residency again in the U.S., meaning that the foreign-trained doctors who eventually practice in the U.S. are among the best trained and most competitive, Tsugawa says.

As an international medical student and a future IMG, I understand that the stakes are a little higher for me because I need to work harder than the average US student. I understand that my chances of matching into residency are slightly lower than a US student — HOWEVER, I also know that my hard work and dedication is going to pay off. Just because someone attends a US school does not mean they are guaranteed residency; just because someone attends an international school does not mean they WON’T match into residency; it all comes down to who works hard and who wants it bad enough.

In the article, I also read that IMGs are more willing to work in rural/undeveloped areas. Most IMGs coming to the US for work are trying to make a better life for themselves and are willing to go wherever they are needed. I believe that THIS is what medicine is about — going to where we are needed and helping those who need to be helped. 

I really appreciate the diversity and experience that IMGs bring to the US. It’s a fact that studying medicine abroad is going to expose you to different situations and experiences that you might not receive within the US. I am thankful to have the opportunity to work with local doctors on the island to gain knowledge and experience. This will help me stand out as a future physician, as well as having been exposed to lots of different experiences that I may not have had in the US.

I appreciate any and every doctor in the US who wants to make a difference in healthcare and patient care – no matter where they got their medical degree from. At the end of they day, we are all physicians with the same degree, just wanting to make a difference in our patients’ lives.

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