The shortage of physicians in the United States has significantly grown due to several factors including the increase in the aging population and the rise of disease incidence. The early retirement of some physicians, the decline in the number of U. S. medical graduates, consumers’ increased demand for high quality health care, and the expansion of health care related industries also contribute to the growing demand for the profession.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the employment of physicians is predicted to “grow faster than 14 percent from 2006 to 2016, faster than the average for all occupations” (Physicians and Surgeons, n. d. ). The rise in demand and the shortage of medical graduates in the country have also led to the increase in the number of international medical graduates (IMGs) practicing in the country. IMGs play an important role in the U. S. health care system because they fill the gaps in providing quality care for underserved populations, especially in the area of primary care.
As compared to U. S. medical graduates, IMGs are often more willing to serve in remote, rural areas. They also contribute to the diversity needed in the physician workforce. In the long term, IMGs are expected to alleviate the cultural and language barriers that still exist in the country. IMGs are also expected to help in resolving the lack of minority representation in the U. S. health profession. The under-representation of minorities in the health work force remains to be the main contributor to the increased ethnic and racial disparities in the delivery and quality of care in the country.
Health policy makers and experts are aware that without much diversity in the health profession, minorities will continue to be at risk. The government is committed to address this disparity by improving the situation of the health work force, enhancing the quality and delivery of health care services, and implementing policies that will benefit the minorities. The government is also committed to provide culturally-specific health promotion programs. Reference Physicians and Surgeons (n. d). Retrieved May 18, 2009, from http://www. bls. gov/oco/ocos074. htm