Strong Prejudice Against International Medical Graduates

By Rosemary Pawliuk

The Society for Canadians Studying Medicine Abroad (SOCASMA) and the Association of International Medical Graduates of British Columbia (AIMGBC) are advocacy groups who work to support international medical graduates.  SOCASMA supports Canadians who studied medicine overseas.  AIMGBC supports immigrant physicians who obtained medical degrees in their country of origin.

All international medical graduates (IMGs) face hurdles in accessing residency training which is a pre-requisite of becoming licensed as a medical doctor in Canada.  Prejudice is one of those hurdles. Many administrators, patients, and doctors believe that the care provided by IMGs is inferior to that of physicians trained in Canada and the US.

This prejudice is fostered by government policy in Canada to segregate Canadian and American medical school graduates and international medical graduates.  Substantially fewer opportunities are available to IMGs even though their credentials are as good as those who graduate from Canadian and American medical schools.

This year Dr. Tugawa published a study comparing the performance of American medical school graduates with international medical graduates (IMGs).

The study involved 1,215,490 patient admissions to the hospital treated by 44,227 general internists.  Even thoughpatients treated by IMGs had slightly more chronic conditions than patients treated by USMGs,patients treated by IMGs had lower mortality rates (11.2% vs. 11.6%).

Medscape, a leading publication, for physicians and healthcare professionals worldwidestated that “The current study should help dispel the notion that IMGs provide worse medical care compared with US medical graduates.  The study results may be used by hospitals and health systems to create awareness about IMG and their qualifications as clinicians.”

In Canada where this prejudice is deeply rooted, this and prior scientific studies with the same results are insufficient to displace deeply held beliefs that IMGs are inferior.  When the Medical Post, the national online publication for physicians, published this study, the reader response included the following comments:

“What a piece of rubbish; means nothing.  Spent time and money to get the article in some journal.  Joke.”

“What utter bovine excrement.  Maybe the IMG’s received easier cases and when they became difficult they referred them to a US graduate…”

The Society for Canadians Studying Medicine Abroad (SOCASMA) are dedicated to bring a legal challenge to have the segregated system of access to the medical profession which promotes this prejudice ruled unconstitutional so that Canadians, both citizens and immigrants, can be judged on individual merit and the Canadian public can have access to the best doctors Canada has to offer.

SOCASMA will be holding a meeting on November 30, 2017 at 6:45 pm at West Point Grey United Church at 4595 West 8th Avenue, Vancouver, BC to provide the public with information that will be valuable to all Canadians Studying Medicine Abroad.  Email:  socasma@outlook.com.


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