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Comment and Controversy

Will foreign grads rescue the specialty?

April 2005 · Vol. 17, No. 4
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Although the percentage of American medical students choosing the Ob/Gyn specialty is declining, as Dr. Robert L. Barbieri pointed out in his December editorial (“EasyROAD—high road or path of least resistance?”), foreign students are filling in the gaps. Many of these students have a good deal of experience in their country of origin—they aren’t necessarily less competent physicians.

As for the economics of reimbursements and malpractice premiums, I don’t see how they can improve, given the current state of affairs. Call schedules may ease, however, and that may be an incentive for medical students to choose the specialty.

I think gender also plays a role. I am not sure I would recommend the specialty to other male medical students, since many women prefer female physicians.

Amos Cutler, MD
Saratoga Springs, NY

Dr. Barbieri responds:

I agree with Dr. Cutler. In obstetrics and gynecology, residency positions not filled by US medical graduates are filled by international graduates. These Ob/Gyns are very well prepared and become outstanding specialists with productive and distinguished careers. The recent focus on the percentage of US medical graduates entering the field of obstetrics and gynecology may not be a good barometer of the overall health of the specialty.

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