It is easy a foreign medical graduate (FMG) to feel isolated and even discriminated against, especially during the Match. The Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates (ECFMG) is an organization committed to alleviating some of these feelings, but the world’s university systems are simply not set up in a way that completely remedies the added dilemmas FMGs face.
Thankfully, the ECFMG is constantly working on making conditions favorable for FMGs, and one of the ways they have recently accomplished part of this goal is by creating a blog. Journeys in Medicine is a blog that focuses on the true stories of foreign physicians and their experiences in the United States and in home countries through the Exchange Visitor Program.
The stories in the blogs are not terrible stories of failure or complaints about the stress of being an FMG. They are instead inspirational stories that confirm the importance of FMGs in the U.S. and abroad. They are also incredible tales about the amazing resources available for FMGs, and how to keep a positive attitude and perspective about training and education.
Sometimes, all it takes to remain motivated during studies as an FMG is to feel connected and like you are part of a community. Journeys in Medicine helps one to accomplish this goal by giving authentic accounts of experiences rather than analogies or fictitious tales of what should be. The stories are the real deal, and they are a reminder of the reasons FMGs should keep striving to do their best.
5 Reasons to Read Journeys in Medicine as an FMG
- Anecdotal Evidence: The purpose of the stories in this blog are to encourage participation in the U.S. healthcare system. Sure, it is a difficult road, but the road is filled with heartfelt success stories. Often, the anecdotal evidence FMGs receive is negative and focused on discrimination and failures due to things out of one’s control such as Visa issues. This blog gives a person hope through real life success stories, which can encourage the FMG to keep trying no matter what obstacles get in the way.
- Sense of Community: Reading Journeys in Medicine is a reminder that FMGs are part of the medical community. The stories remind FMGs of this by noting the accomplishments and importance of FMG contributions. It is not only the FMG that reaps rewards from their education while in the U.S. The patients in the healthcare system also benefit from the unique knowledge FMGs may possess. Sometimes, FMGs can forget that they are an asset to a nation that struggles with a physician shortage and lack of diversity.
- Connections: In many cases, Journeys in Medicine gives FMGs connection to doctors who have shared similar experiences. One they have read a blog post, an FMG is free to try contacting that physician for more information or help with their own struggles. Admittedly, the blog does not have a discussion forum or contact information. However, the names of the physicians are included in the stories, so an FMG could look up the doctors in a physician’s directory.
- Resources: Many of the blog posts in Journeys in Medicine give clear information about resources that aided the visiting physician and allowed them to have a positive learning experience. Being able to follow the trail of resources used to get to a certain endpoint can be instrumental in another FMGs successful finding of their own resources. It also confirms for an FMG who is feeling lost that there are resources available to put them on the path to success.
- Authenticity: Lastly, Journeys in Medicine is an authentic account of real life experiences, so the reader is not getting a story about how things are SUPPOSED to be but how it actually is. Too often, FMGs are presented with promotional material that paints a false picture of reality. That does not mean that reality is not as good, but it does mean that the information in the promotional material may be inaccurate. Reading actual stories from people who have been visiting from abroad gives credence to the account.
The news is filled with stories about the challenges FMGs face, and the news is also filled with stories that question the abilities of FMGs. Much of this has to do with politics, but there is another story that is starting to emerge, and that is the story of how important FMGs are to an overburdened healthcare system. Not only do FMGs fill the gap in healthcare accessibility by creating more providers in the U.S. healthcare system, but FMGs gain a valuable education about state-of-the-art medical practice that they may not be able to receive in the U.S.
Journeys in Medicine highlights the positive aspects of visiting physicians from those physicians’ perspectives, and it is a must-read for FMGs who need a little connection and pick-me-up during residency matching and training.