Physician Migration: Experience of International Medical Graduates in the USA

Akiko Kamimura, Mahasen S. Samhouri, Kyl Myers, Tina Huynh, Liana Prudencio, Jessica Eckhardt, Sarah Al-Obaydi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


The purpose of this study was to explore the experience of foreign-born international medical graduates (IMGs) in the USA. Few studies describe IMG experiences in attaining medical licensure in the USA at each step of the process. Furthermore, little is known about IMGs who choose not to become a licensed physician or were unsuccessful in doing so. In this study, 20 foreign-born IMGs, 16 practicing IMGs and 4 non-licensed physician IMGs, participated in a 1-h semi-structured face-to-face interview between September 2013 and April 2014. Participants were from North America (Canada), Latin America, South Asia, East Asia, Europe, the Middle East, or Sub-Saharan Africa. Interviews were transcribed. Two of the authors conducted initial analysis of each interview separately. Four primary themes emerged based on the data analysis: (1) barriers to physician careers include the immigration process, years since graduating from medical school, language and culture, and cost and time; (2) positive factors to support physician careers include networking and research experience; (3) factors that positively or negatively affect IMGs seeking physician careers such as the education system in a home country and family; and (4) non-physician careers. In order to develop multiple pathways to utilize IMGs in the US healthcare system, future research examining the following areas is necessary: (1) support systems for IMGs who are taking the US Medical Licensing Exam (USMLE) or applying for a residency position and (2) the experience of IMGs who are not certified physicians in the USA.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)463-481
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of International Migration and Integration
Issue number2
StatePublished - May 1 2017

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Demography
  • Cultural Studies
  • Anthropology


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