Study Shows Foreign-Trained Doctors Can Ease Rural Physician Shortages

November 13, 1998

Sheps Center for Health Services Research

CHAPEL HILL -- Foreign-trained doctors more often practice in rural, medically underserved areas than U.S. medical graduates and help ease physician shortages, according to a new University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill study.

"Many international medical graduates agree to practice in rural areas in exchange for the opportunity to stay in the United States," said lead author Leonard D. Baer, a medical geographer at UNC-CH's Cecil G. Sheps Center for Health Services Research. Co-authors of a report in the November issue of the journal Medical Care are Drs.Thomas C. Ricketts and Thomas R. Konrad, both of the Sheps Center, and Stephen S. Mick of the University of Michigan.

Researchers analyzed the geographical distribution of primary-care physicians - doctors specializing in family and general practice, internal medicine, obstetrics and gynecology and pediatrics. Physicians who trained outside the United States made up a larger percentage of the primary-care physician work force in rural areas facing doctor shortages than in rural areas without shortages.

The study also revealed sharp differences among states regarding which foreign medical graduates practice in rural areas. Researchers believe individual state policies may help explain the variation.

States with the highest rate of such doctors practicing in rural, underserved areas were Florida and West Virginia (45 percent), North Dakota (40 percent) and Illinois (39 percent). States with more than 20 percent international medical graduates in rural areas were New York, Kansas, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, North Carolina and Texas.

The study has important implications for policy-makers, the researchers said.

"There appears to be a policy consensus that this country has too many physicians and that reducing the number of international medical graduates allowed to practice in the U.S. will ease the problem," said Baer, a National Service Research Award fellow.

International medical graduates in U.S. residency programs more than doubled between the 1988-89 and 1995-96 academic years while the number of U.S. medical graduates stayed relatively stable, he said.

Despite the increase, policy-makers must balance alleviating local physician shortages with concerns about reducing a national oversupply.

"This study suggests that international medical graduates are an important safety net in rural America," said Baer. "Their role in alleviating underservice should not be easily dismissed."

The Federal Office of Rural Health Policy supported the study. Information analyzed came from the American Medical Association and the U.S. Bureau of Health Professions.
Sheps Center Contact: Carolyn Busse, 966-3847
News Services Contact: David Williamson, 962-8596

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Related Baer Articles from Brightsurf:

Two engineers design and donate a technique to make N95 masks reusable
Two Stanford optics experts provided the proofs that light-based decontamination would be feasible and effective, and designed prototype mask sterilization devices to serve as models for do-it-yourself photonics engineers around the world to copy for use wherever they might be.

Combining population health management and online program may help patients lose weight
Researchers from Brigham and Women's Hospital paired an online weight loss program with a phone- and email-based population health management program, a two-pronged strategy previously unexplored, and determined that patients in the combined program had greater weight loss over 12 months than patients in the other two groups.

Dream on
Daydreaming can be a significant asset to employees in a workplace, depending upon certain attributes of the wanderer -- specifically, if they identify with their profession or organization.

Automated stage discrimination of Parkinson's Disease -- BIO Integration
Announcing a new article publication for BIO Integration journal. In this research article the authors Vered Aharonson, Nabeel Seedat, Simon Israeli-Korn, Sharon Hassin-Baer, Michiel Postema and Gilad Yahalom from the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa, Tel Aviv Academic College of Engineering, Tel Aviv, Israel, Chaim Sheba Medical Center, Tel Aviv, Israel and Tel Aviv University, Israel consider automated stage discrimination of Parkinson's Disease.

Lab-grown miniature human livers successfully transplanted in rats
Using skin cells from human volunteers, researchers at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine have created fully functional mini livers, which they then transplanted into rats.

New venture team success requires collective ownership -- with boundaries, study says
A sense of collective ownership is crucial to a startup team's success.

Syphilis infection rates in dialysis patients exceed general population
Syphilis rates, like other sexually transmitted disease rates in the United States, are soaring, and the first known study to examine syphilis rates in patients with kidney failure found an incidence greater than three times that of the general population.

They say love is blind, but if you're a queen honeybee it could mean true loss of sight.

Pitt first to grow genetically engineered mini livers to study disease and therapeutics
In a proof-of-concept paper, Pitt researchers chronicle how they transformed genetically engineered human cells into functional, 3D liver tissue that mimics non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) - a condition involving fat buildup in the liver, which can lead to cirrhosis or even liver failure.

Long work hours associated with increased risk of stroke
Working long hours for 10 years or more may be associated with stroke.

Read More: Baer News and Baer Current Events is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to