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US Seeks More Foreign Doctors, Medical Students


Recent studies suggest the United States health care system will soon experience a shortage of doctors and medical professionals. This is leading to increased efforts to attract foreign doctors and medical students to the United States. John Featherly narrates.

Experts say several states have or will soon experience shortages of physicians in a variety of specialties, including cardiology, radiology, surgery and pediatrics.

Dr. Susan Wolfsthal, the director of the University of Maryland's Residency Program, says the United States needs more doctors in all specialties. "There are some parts of the United States where there are many, many physicians and it is very easy for patients to have access to clinical care. And then there are other areas of the United States where there is less and there might be only one physician for many thousands of patients."

This shortage is putting pressure on American medical schools to increase enrollment and on the U.S. government to allow more foreign doctors into the country.

U.S. Congressman Rob Simmons says the United States needs these foreign nationals. "We have people who come to the United States to provide nursing care and medical care and gosh knows we need all the help we can get."

Educators, including Wolfsthal, say foreign students can gain valuable experience and knowledge studying in the United States and working in U.S. hospitals. "You get the same exposure, you get the same opportunity to see whether this is something you are interested in and they also get to see you in action."

Sonia Yousef, a rheumatology fellow at the University of Maryland, says foreign students should try to have well-rounded experiences before coming to the United States.

"So you should try to do some volunteer work, anyways it’s good, and that looks good on your resume as well. So that is probably the fourth thing, but it is not as important as clinical experience."

Wolfsthal says universities value the diversity international students bring. "When you have international graduates they bring, as someone from another institution would, they bring a different perspective, they have different interests and so they bring that to the program."

Experts and educators say foreign medical students and doctors gain a lot from their time spent in the United states. They say working in American hospitals and studying at universities in the United States gives foreign students and doctors a chance to work with the latest technology and to grow professionally.