Study: Foreign doctors may be better than U.S. counterparts

Med students attend a lecture.


Steve Chiotakis: A quarter of all doctors in America graduated from medical schools abroad. That's a good thing according to a new study. Research published today in the journal Health Affairs, says that foreign diploma could mean a better doctor. From the Marketplace Health Desk at WHYY in Philadelphia, Gregory Warner reports.

Gregory Warner: If you got your medical degree overseas, don't bother applying for a residency in most hospitals.

IAN KRANTZ: They wouldn't even consider them to have an interview for a position.

Dr. Ian Krantz is a professor at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia and chairman of a commission that certifies foreign medical graduates. He says that those students suffer under a stigma that their education is second rate. They end up taking the jobs that graduates of American schools tend to avoid at hospitals in rural towns and inner cities.

Krantz studied 6,000 doctors and their performance measures. He found that foreigners with international diplomas did just as well or even better than their U.S.-educated counterparts. Not so for Americans that studied abroad. John Norcini, the study's lead author, says those doctors had the worst performance rankings.

John Norcini: It may be that they're not quite as qualified to begin with.

Which could mean if you see a foreign diploma on your doctor's wall, you should hope he or she's got a foreign accent, too.

In Philadelphia, I'm Gregory Warner for Marketplace.

About the author

Gregory Warner is a senior reporter covering the economics and business of healthcare for the entire Marketplace portfolio.


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