• Simone Brown

A New Appreciation for Foreign Trained Doctors

Over the last ten years, I have accompanied my mother to countless doctor's visits for a multitude of ailments. I began as a medical illiterate, not knowing the difference between high-blood sugar and high-blood pressure. But now I can rattle off a dozen prescriptions and tell you what they are for and their common side-effects. It has been an unpleasant education for this unwilling student. The bright side has been meeting all the amazing health-care professionals along the way, from medical assistants to nurses to doctors, who have provided excellent care for my mother.

As I look over all the business cards collected from her care, I see that ten of the seventeen doctors are internationals from places such as India, China, Mexico, and Poland. Because Houston is such a diverse city, it seems expected that there would be a prevalence of foreign-trained medical professionals, but recently I have learned about the important rolls that they fill in underserved communities, referred to as “health-care deserts”.

The American Immigration Council’s special report on foreign-trained doctors states that these highly-educated professionals make up about 30% of the physicians providing primary care to millions of Americans in areas with the highest poverty rates and where most of the population is non-white. However, U.S. immigration policies include significant hurdles for these doctors to immigrate to and practice medicine in the U.S. Any doctor who wishes to practice medicine in the U.S. must overcome many hurdles, including passing four high-stakes exams and the “matching” into a residency program. This includes those who have been practicing medicine in their countries for years. Since learning about the arduous path they have taken to practice in this country, I have a much greater appreciation for their dedication and service to our communities. Thank you!

“Foreign-Trained Doctors Are Critical to Serving Many U.S. Communities.” American Immigration Council, 18 Jan. 2018, www.americanimmigrationcouncil.org/research/foreign-trained-doctors-are-critical-serving-many-us-communities.

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