The value of diversity in our health workforce is well documented. In many cases, patients are more likely to engage with the health care system and to comply with treatment plans when their providers are from similar backgrounds. For some, multilingual providers can be a deciding factor in their ability to access care. In short, a diverse physician workforce brings direct benefits to patients.
At Intealth™, our Values reflect that “we embrace ethnic and cultural diversity, invite varied perspectives, and provide fair access and opportunity for all individuals.” As medicine becomes increasingly globalized and our patient population more diverse, it is essential for our nation to embrace diversity in medicine and to recognize the critical contributions of physicians of all races, ethnicities, cultures, genders, and sexual orientations.
In just a few days, the new academic year will commence in U.S. programs of graduate medical education (GME). Among the new trainees joining our nation’s health care teams on July 1 are thousands of international medical graduates (IMGs) selected for their achievement and promise. Some of these IMGs are U.S. citizens, while others hail from countries around the globe. Along with their knowledge and talent, they bring a wealth of diversity to our physician workforce.
At a time when our nation is engaged in debate about mechanisms to ensure diversity in higher education, it is important to celebrate and support the mechanisms that allow both U.S.-born and foreign national physicians to enter U.S. GME. Certification by ECFMG, a division of Intealth, provides assurance to the public and to the U.S. GME community that IMGs are ready to enter U.S. training. In 2022, ECFMG certified 11,413 physicians representing 1,411 medical schools in 134 countries. Each year, Intealth ensures that U.S. GME program directors can select trainees from an IMG applicant pool that is both highly qualified and diverse.
Intealth also offers J-1 visa sponsorship to eligible foreign national physicians who compete successfully for a U.S. training position. Last year, we sponsored nearly 14,000 physicians in training at more than 730 teaching hospitals nationwide. Hailing from 150 countries, these physicians not only deliver critical health care services, they also enrich the clinical learning environment for all trainees through their diverse, international perspectives. Compared to their U.S. counterparts, foreign national physicians also train in higher numbers in primary-care specialties and in underserved communities, both urban and rural, building cultural competency in some of the areas where it is most needed.
Please join me in welcoming all incoming trainees and in supporting the policies that ensure this annual infusion of critical talent and diversity to our health care system continues. Our ability to produce physicians who can meet our health care needs depends upon it.
(published June 21, 2023)