Federal, State, and Private Activities Pertaining to U.S. Graduates of Foreign Medical Schools

HRD-85-112: Published: Sep 27, 1985. Publicly Released: Sep 27, 1985.

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In response to a congressional request, GAO reviewed activities which have taken place since the issuance of a 1980 report on the problems created by U.S. citizens attending foreign medical schools and returning to the United States to practice medicine.

GAO found that many of the problems reported in 1980 still exist, and none of the 1980 recommendations have been implemented. Some matters which need further attention include a lack of: (1) information on the number of Americans studying medicine abroad; (2) information and criteria concerning the quality of foreign medical training; (3) consistent state decisions concerning the approval of foreign-trained students' participation in U.S. clinical training; and (4) a uniform examination. However, GAO found that: (1) the states it visited have taken some steps to approve foreign medical schools before allowing their medical students to participate in undergraduate clinical training; and (2) private organizations have taken steps to obtain more information about foreign medical schools, develop a single examination for all foreign medical graduates, and obtain information concerning U.S. hospitals providing undergraduate clinical training to foreign medical students. GAO believes that a more coordinated approach is needed to address the wide variety of foreign medical school graduate issues; therefore, federal legislation should be considered to authorize the Secretary of Health and Human Services to accredit foreign medical schools or review the credentials of foreign medical schools. This accreditation could be used by states or private organizations in licensing and graduate medical school acceptance determinations.

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