Role of international medical graduates providing office-based medical care: United States, 2005-2006

NCHS Data Brief. 2009 Feb;(13):1-8.


In 2005-2006, about one-quarter (24.6%) of all visits to office-based physicians were to international medical graduates. Hispanic or Latino and Asian or Pacific Islander patients made more visits to international medical graduates (24.9%) than to U.S. medical graduates (12.4%). International medical graduates also saw a higher percentage of visits made by patients expecting to use Medicaid or State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) as their primary payment source (17.6 %) compared with U.S. medical graduates (10.2 %). In 2005-2006, international medical graduates comprised 24.5% of all office-based physicians. International medical graduates were more likely to be of Asian or Pacific Islander (31.6 % compared with 4.9 % of U.S. medical graduates) and Hispanic or Latino descent (6.7 % compared with 1.5 % of U.S. medical graduates). International medical graduates were more likely to practice in primary care shortage areas outside of metropolitan statistical areas (67.8 %) than U.S. medical graduates (39.8%). Over the past 30 years, the number of international medical graduates in the physician workforce has steadily increased. Many entered the United States on visas that allowed them to stay in the United States if they agreed to work in an underserved area for 3 years following residency. During the last decade, however, the number of international medical graduates on these visas declined by 47% as use of less-restrictive temporary specialized worker visas increased. The declining number of international medical graduates serving in underserved areas has made recruiting physicians in these areas more difficult. In order to examine the overall role of international medical graduates in providing office-based medical care, this Data Brief compares patient and physician characteristics for office-based international medical graduates with those of U.S. medical graduates.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Foreign Medical Graduates / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Primary Health Care / statistics & numerical data
  • Professional Practice Location / statistics & numerical data
  • United States