LOS ANGELES – A dozen doctors who graduated in Latin America now serve their residencies in American hospitals thanks to UCLA’s International Medical Graduate program.
“The IMG has given me one of the greatest opportunities of my life. Without this program I would never have been able to graduate from a medical school in the United States,” Marcos Uribe, who in 2007 graduated from Mexico’s Autonomous University of Guadalajara School of Medicine, told Efe.
“In this country I was working at a printer’s because to practice medicine I needed a license – but then through the program I was able to complete my exams and make contacts to begin working as a resident-in-training at the Riverside Regional Family Medicine Center,” Uribe said.
Founded in 2007, UCLA’s IMG program has successfully integrated 66 doctors into the California hospital system.
Maria Alejandra Jaimes, a native of Colombia, graduated from the University of Cartagena Faculty of Medicine in 2004, and through the IMG began her residency the following month as a doctor of family medicine in Sierra Vista, California.
“We Hispanic doctors serve Hispanic patients better because we know the language, we known the culture, so it’s easier for them to tell us their symptoms and for us to understand what treatments to prescribe,” Jaimes told Efe.
The IMG takes three semesters to prepare doctors who graduated in Latin America so they can pass their exams and subsequently work for three years as residents in U.S. hospitals.
“After their residencies, the doctors have a commitment to serve for a period of at least two years in low-income communities,” Michelle Bholat, deputy director of UCLA’s David Geffen School of Medicine, said.
“California has around 80,000 doctors, and of that number only 5 percent are Latinos, despite the fact that the state is 39 percent Hispanic” out of a population of 39 million, she said.
Training a doctor who graduated in Latin America to pass medical school exams costs UCLA $52,000, Bholat said.
“On the other hand, educating a medical student during a four-year course to pass the same exams costs around $400,000, which means that the IMG for less money has integrated a bilingual doctor to serve patients in hospitals,” she said. EFE