There is a huge opportunity for international medical doctors to train and work in the United States as primary care physicians (PCP). A PCP is often the first health care professional that an American patient visits when he has a medical problem. PCPs also focus on preventive care and routine tests to help patients lead healthy lives long before medical intervention is necessary. Experts predict that the recent Obamacare law will require a massive increase of PCPs across the nation, especially in rural areas that Americans typically shun.
According to a recent report, "despite a shortage of U.S. primary care doctors, fewer than 25 percent of new doctors go into this field, and fewer still work in rural areas".
An article in The New York Times in July 2012 says that the Association of American Medical Colleges estimates that in 2015 the country will have 62,900 fewer doctors than needed. And that number will more than double by 2025, as the expansion of insurance coverage and the aging of baby boomers drive up demand for care. Even without the health care law, the shortfall of doctors in 2025 would still exceed 100,000.
Earning the required credentials to practice medicine in the United States is not an easy process, though. Foreign doctors must show that they have earned medical school credentials in their home countries via certification by ECFMG, must complete a 3-year residency training program (U.S. graduate medical education (GME)) in a US hospital and also successfully complete the USMLE - a three part licensing exam that every American must take before being issued a license to practice.
In fact, the process is so onerous that in an Aug 11, 2013 story in the New York Times, the reporter says: "... many foreign physicians and their advocates argue that the process is unnecessarily restrictive and time-consuming, particularly since America’s need for doctors will expand sharply in a few short months under the new health care law."
Many people do not know that nearly one in four US doctors was born in a foreign country and completed basic medical training in a foreign country. We believe that the opportunity is ripe for enterprising medical students to consider graduate medical education in the US. Although there are plenty of challenges to get to the finish line.