Fifteen percent of the American functional physician workforce has been trained in lower income countries. This has turned out to be beneficial for the United States both clinically and economically but may have negative impacts on the countries of origin that are losing their educational investment, according to a report published in the open access journal PLoS ONE.
The researchers, led by Fuller Torrey of the Stanley Medical Research Institute in Maryland, identified 265,851 physicians currently practicing in the United States who completed their medical education in other countries, and determined that 128,729 of them, or about 15% of the total active physicians in the US, had been trained in lower income countries.
They found that the Philippines, Syria, Jordan, and Haiti experience the greatest per capita loss of physicians to the US.
These results highlight a potential problem for medicine in lower income countries, the authors write, where the loss of trained physicians can make it difficult to improve the local population's health. In this light, they discuss possible strategies to improve the situation so that both the US and the countries of origin can benefit.