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Thousands of Doctors Going Unused in US

Because they didn't train here
By Ruth Brown,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 12, 2013 6:28 PM CDT
Thousands of Doctors Going Unused in US
   (Shutterstock)

(Newser) – There is a doctor shortage in many parts of the US, and it's only going to get worse when ObamaCare kicks in. Meanwhile, thousands of foreign-trained physicians are already living here but are ineligible to practice without undertaking costly, time-consuming retraining, reports the New York Times. "It doesn’t cost the taxpayers a penny because these doctors come fully trained," says a former chairman of the AMA's international medical graduates governing council. "It is doubtful that the US can respond to the massive shortages without the participation of international medical graduates. But we’re basically ignoring them in this discussion and I don’t know why that is."

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After passing the US Medical Licensing Exam, obtaining US recommendations (usually by first volunteering or working in the medical field), foreign-trained doctors (except those who did their residency in Canada)—even from countries like Britain or Japan—must secure a hard-to-get residency, which can go on for up to 10 years, explains the Times. An average of 42.1% of foreign-trained doctors cleared for a residency actually get one—compared with 93.9% of American grads. Still, some advocates for the system say the retraining is important to maintain the country's high standards. Others argue that making it easier for doctors from poor countries to work here will create brain drains there. "But we have created a huge, wide, open market by undertraining here," says a professor of medicine and health policy, "and the developing world responds." (Read more doctors stories.)

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