Background : Data show that international medical graduates (IMGs), both US and foreign born, are more likely to enter primary care specialties and practice in underserved areas. Comprehensive assessments of representation trends for IMGs in the US physician workforce are limited.
Objective : We reported current and historical representation trends for IMGs in the graduate medical education (GME) training pool and US practicing physician workforce.
Methods : We compared representation for the total GME and active practicing physician pools with the 20 largest residency specialties. A 2-sided test was used for comparison, with P < .001 considered significant. To assess significant increases in IMG GME trainee representation for the total pool and each of the specialties from 1990-2015, the slope was estimated using simple linear regression.
Results : IMGs showed significantly greater representation among active practicing physicians in 4 specialties: internal medicine (39%), neurology (31%), psychiatry (30%), and pediatrics (25%). IMGs in GME showed significantly greater representation in 5 specialties: pathology (39%), internal medicine (39%), neurology (36%), family medicine (32%), and psychiatry (31%; all P < .001). Over the past quarter century, IMG representation in GME has increased by 0.2% per year in the total GME pool, and 1.1% per year for family medicine, 0.5% for obstetrics and gynecology and general surgery, and 0.3% for internal medicine.
Conclusions : IMGs make up nearly a quarter of the total GME pool and practicing physician workforce, with a disproportionate share, and larger increases over our study period in certain specialties.
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