The profession: are foreign experts better?

Determining whether foreign-trained doctors yield better patient outcomes is a thorny issue. You could argue that having an international background exposes medical experts to a wider range of circumstances and helps with decision making

Alternatively, you might say outsiders would be prone to miss local cultural nuances and thus might not spot vital clues for treatment. In the US, though, a recent paper in The BMJ has come down on the side of the foreigners.

The study compared patient outcomes between general internists who graduated in the US and those with degrees from abroad.

“Data on older Medicare patients admitted to hospital in the US showed that patients treated by international graduates had lower mortality than patients cared for by US graduates,” it concluded.

Why is this so? The authors speculate that foreign grads face a higher bar for finding work in the US, so only the best get to practice. “The fact that the international graduates outperform the US graduates in test scores in the US lends some credence to this hypothesis,” they said.

“In addition, many of the international graduates who are currently practicing in the US likely underwent residency training twice, once in their home country and once in the US.”

A further point may be that foreign medics may feel they have more to prove. Whatever the reasons, for now it looks like an influx of foreign expertise is likely to be a good thing.

  • What’s your view? How do foreign radiologists measure up to those in your country? Let us know
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