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Foundation for Advancement of International Medical Education and Research

International Migration of Physicians

The international migration of physicians has been the focus of numerous research endeavors, both within the United States and elsewhere. For many countries, especially those located in developing regions, emigration has contributed to the decline in available health care workers, including nurses and physicians. This lack of service providers can, in turn, have an enormous negative impact on the health of local populations. For other countries, such as Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom, and the United States, a shortage of local training resources has led to an undersupply of health professionals, yielding numerous opportunities for internationally trained workers who wish to emigrate. Although some nations may purposefully educate more physicians than are needed locally, others have recruited from nations that can scarcely afford to lose any of their limited human resources. From a population health perspective, the resulting global imbalance in professional workforces needs to be addressed. To do this, one must determine the scope of the problem, then gather data to better appreciate the specific push and pull factors underlying migration.

FAIMER is actively involved in research aimed at quantifying medical migration and understanding the factors that drive the movement of physicians throughout the world. In Africa, for example, FAIMER Institute Fellows have collected detailed information on local educational infrastructure problems that may contribute to the emigration of physicians and nurses. In addition, through various surveys, FAIMER is gathering detailed information on why health care workers leave particular countries, where they intend to go, and what, if any, incentives might be effective in keeping them where they are needed.

Selected FAIMER staff and Fellow publications on this topic are listed below. FAIMER staff members are listed in bold; Fellows are listed with their institute and fellowship year. Click on an article’s title to view its abstract listing.

Boulet JR, Duvivier RJ, Pinsky WW. Prevalence of international medical graduates from Muslim-majority nations in the US physician workforce from 2009 to 2019. JAMA Network Open. 2020 Jul 6;3:e209418-e209418.

Duvivier R, Burch V, Boulet J. A comparison of physician emigration from Africa to the United States of America between 2005 and 2015. Human Resources for Health. 2017;15(41):1-12.

Leng SW, McKinley DW, Opalek A. Cross-border academic mobility in medical education: Faculty and student exchange and research partnerships, Report No.: 4. Foundation for Advancement of International Medical Education and Research; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Oct 2018.

[Last update: October 19, 2021]

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