Foreign-trained doctors become America's NPs

Many foreign-educated doctors don't have the time, money or language skills to compete for and complete a residency.

But they can use their knowledge and skills to become nurse practitioners, bringing diversity to the workforce and serving minority populations, the National Journareported.

Florida International University (FIU) in Miami offers advanced nursing degree programs that train foreign-educated doctors as nurse practitioners. America's physician shortage, combined with an aging population, means medical schools and residency programs aren't producing doctors fast enough--and foreign doctors turned nurse practitioners could help meet that need.

There is an increased demand for highly trained and educated multilingual nurses. Foreign-educated doctors, much like minority doctors, are more likely to care for medically underserved populations, foreign-born patients, patients who speak little English and Medicaid patients, the article states. 

Although some doctors are initially reluctant to enter a nursing program, the hesitance usually doesn't last. "What we're hearing from them is that [they] actually really, really enjoy the role of nurse practitioner in the United States, because it's more like the way they practiced in their home countries," Maria Olenick, FIU's program director, told the National Journal.

The alternative doesn't hold much promise. Between 3,000 and 8,000 immigrant physicians who pass their licensing exams apply for a residency, only about 42 percent of whom get a position, as compared to about 94 percent of U.S. medical school seniors who apply, FierceHealthcare previously reported.

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