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Foreign-born physicians and the problem of prejudice, discrimination

Most people are familiar with the opportunity foreign physicians have to receive medical training in the United States, and the legal allowances made to allow immigrant physicians to begin practicing medicine in this country. These allowances are an important reason foreign physicians end up in rural or otherwise underserved communities.

Despite the fact that only about one quarter of physicians in the United States are international medical graduates, they play a critical role in the provision of health care in this country, particularly in communities where they may not fit in very well. This is all the more true in light of a fairly recent study showing that immigrant physicians may provide superior care than homegrown medical graduates. 

For international medical graduates looking to advance their career in the United States, navigating prejudice, even if only mild prejudice, is a part of the job. In some ways, this means that physicians from foreign countries have to be more highly qualified and work harder to advance. Physicians who come from foreign countries may also have a harder time getting their patients to trust them, depending on where they are located, and may be more likely to come become the subject of a complaint when something goes wrong in the course of medical care.

Any physician who finds themselves as the subject of a complaint should, of course, work with an experienced attorney to help ensure they have sound guidance navigating the complaint process, and any disciplinary action that may result. This is particularly important for physicians who may not be as familiar with the disciplinary process and the legal rights it provides to physicians. Experienced legal counsel can also help foreign-born physicians address any employment discrimination issues they face on the job.

Source: Forbes, “Study suggests that immigrant doctors provide better care than U.S. medical graduates,” Bruce Y. Lee, Feb. 4, 2017.