Don’t Judge a Book by Its Cover. That Goes for Doctors Too

by | Sep 27, 2010 | Firm News, Medical Malpractice |

We all live in a cultural where appearances mean everything. Whether it’s the brand of milk you buy or the type of car you purchase, studies show individuals tend to rely heavily on physical attributes; equating appearance with quality. According to a study conducted by the Foundation for Advancement of International Medical Education and Research in Philadelphia, selecting a doctor is no different.

Brand name attire, a familiar recognizable last name, a nicely framed diploma from a reputable medical school, and excellent bedside manner are all signs of a “good” doctor to many people. However, a doctor who attended medical school overseas and carries an accent and unrecognizable last name, might force some to second guess the doctor’s abilities or credentials.

In a society where medical errors and medical malpractice happens to countless individuals, it’s completely understandable that many individuals worry about the quality of health care they receive.

However, contrary to popular believe, many foreign-born doctors, or doctors with international degrees, provide excellent patient care. Previous studies revealing lower exam scores of international graduates laid the groundwork for the negative stereotype. But today, researchers admit that these methodologies are a “crude proxy” for determining or quantifying quality of care.

Researchers from the Foundation for Advancement of International Medical Education and Research in Philadelphia recently published a study incorporating new methods for evaluating physician performance.

Researchers examined the records of more than 240,000 patients hospitalized for either congestive heart failure or heart attacks and observed how their outcomes correlated with their doctors’ education and background. They found no difference in mortality rates between those patients cared for by graduates of international versus American medical schools.
Surprisingly, the study revealed that international graduates actually outperform their American peers on training exams like internal medicine.

Today, any doctor wishing to practice law in the United States must undergo the same testing and evaluation regardless of where they attended medical school.

An intensive screen is conducted for every doctor. Verifying medical school diplomas and transcripts, completing residency training at an American hospital, and passing a three-party licensing exam are all requirements to become a doctor in the U.S.

Dr. John J. Norcini, lead author of the study, and other medical educators hope the results of the report will help further define the regulatory process for physicians from international and domestic schools.


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