International medical graduates (IMGs) are vital to the medical field and serve an important role. The journey doesn’t come without its challenges, though. In this blog, let’s explore some of the unique hurdles that IMGs commonly run into.
5 Challenges that IMGs Encounter on the Path to Medicine
What exactly should IMGs be prepared for as they pursue medical training and education in the US?
1. Learning the Culture and Language
Solid communication skills are an important part of any job — and life in general, really. But being able to read, speak, and write in English can be a huge challenge. Communication goes beyond this, too. Consider accents, slang, tone, body language, and other types of nonverbal communication. Learning how to interact with coworkers is understandably challenging for IMGs.
Plus, many of them are trying to find their place in a very different culture.
2. Immigration Policies and Getting a Temporary Work Visa
Immigration policies tend to change, sometimes unexpectedly, and obtaining the necessary work visa can also be tricky. The pandemic only made this harder. This can affect whether or not the IMG makes it to the US and ultimately decides to stay after completing their training (or returning to their country of origin). Because of the important role that IMGs serve, making this process more accessible is important in ensuring qualified students are accepted into residency programs.
3. Heavy Financial Obligations
Becoming a medical professional isn’t cheap for anyone, and especially not for IMGs, who generally have to travel a lot further to get here. Application fees, interviews, rotations — the costs quickly add up.
Ironically, the pandemic actually provided some relief here, since certain parts of this process were moved to a virtual setting.
4. Stress and Anxiety
Cultural shock and language barriers can lead to IMGs feeling lonely and isolated. The loss of family and community support means that they’re sometimes dealing with these challenges on their own. While these difficulties might ultimately help them thrive in the stressful environments that working in medicine comes with, in the moment, they can leave IMGs feeling frustrated, overwhelmed, and exhausted.
5. Racism and Discrimination
IMGs might experience discrimination from colleagues, superiors, and patients. Sometimes, there’s a focus on the “otherness” instead of the unique benefits that an IMG can bring to the table as a result of their different background.
So, how can IMGs not just survive their training but thrive and excel?
Having the Right Guidance and Support System
CHHA can help. We work to combat the physician shortage in the US and help IMGs get the training they need, one clinical clerkship at a time. Our Clinical Rotation Program is a standardized clinical clerkship designed specifically for IMGs, and we work alongside the medical schools that we partner with. We’ll help you get the hands-on training you need so that you can build a competitive US residency application.
Getting the assistance and direction you need means you’ll have a positive, fulfilling, and fruitful experience as an IMG. Ready to take the next step together? Apply now and let’s talk more about your needs and goals.Back to All Articles