Foreign-trained
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Foreign doctors’ path to re-license in U.S. far fetched?

Foreign-Trained, The Circle Series

Within the foreign-trained community, many successful professionals go through the process of re-licensing. Others, for several reasons, do not re-license and often work in blue-collar jobs, or jobs that pay significantly less than they would in their field of study.

What is the process? Why is it a difficult process?

Because the physician path is the most complex, as opposed to that of law or engineering, I will provide a detailed explanation for this intricate procedure. Let’s examine the process:

According to an investigative piece covered by the New York Times, American medical groups say the U.S.’s quality standards in the medical field are high and are “unmatched elsewhere in the world.” Development experts for this procedure say it is risky to make it an easy procedure because of a “brain drain” that may occur abroad. Merriam-Webster defines a “brain drain” as a situation in which professional people depart from one country, field, or economic sector in search of better pay or living conditions. With that, developers find that many countries will face a shortage of doctors, as they all head to the U.S.

The process begins with a verification process of the person’s medical school transcripts and other diplomas. This is tackled by applying to a private, nonprofit organization. Many professionals stumble upon the reality that they must start all over again. Because this is solved at a state level, professionals are required to complete internship programs, apprenticeships, or other practical volunteer experiences. These are often unpaid. After completion of a certain amount of hours, they must get American recommendation letters for future employers and or schools.

In the midst of this, foreign doctors must prove they can fluently speak English. Nonprofit organizations provide aid specifically for foreign professionals who need to learn the language. Fees do apply depending on the level of aid necessary. Learning the language will prepare them for licensing examinations as they are solely offered in English.

Foreign doctors must then pass three dense steps of the United States Medical Licensing Examination. According to their site, step one examinates content like: anatomy, behavioral sciences, microbiology, pharmacology, and more. Step two is split into two as it examines clinical knowledge and skills. Lastly, step three is composed of a clinical encounter frame, physician task, and normal conditions and diseases. Each step has an application fee ranging anywhere between $65 to $865. Rescheduling fees can go as high as $552, depending on several factors like which step and date. In addition, other exams may be required based on the state’s laws and employer.

Lastly, one of the toughest components to this timely process is residency. Foreign professionals must be permanent residents or obtain a work visa. This process can take up to ten years as it may require the physician to return to their country after their training.

The New York Times article also shares a quote from Alisson Sombredero, an H.I.V. specialist from Colombia, who said, “It took me double the time I thought, since I was still having to work while I was studying to pay for the visa, which was very expensive.”

It is a highly time-consuming and complex concept and process to grasp. Though the path toward becoming a physician is the most challenging, engineers face similar procedures but are less stressed as several credentials are transferable. Every professional has their story and there are several fault lines to consider within each story. We must examine each and help them find an easier path toward re-licensing, toward practicing the career they studied hard for.

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