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International Medical Graduates - Perspective of Governor of Illinois

Warren Furey, MD, FACP
Mercy Hospital Medical Center
Chicago, IL
ACP Past Governor Illinois

In Illinois, 42% of our Associates, 35% of our Members, 25% of our Fellows and 11% of our Masters are International Medical Graduates (IMGs). Dr. Ash Gupta, MD, FACP (nephrologist/India) has been active in the national ACP Office in Philadelphia and is at every meeting of our Illinois Council as Chair of the Committee on International Graduates. Dr. Nkem Iroegbu, MD, FACP (internist/Nigeria) is active in our Northern Illinois Advisory Committee and serves as Co-Chair of the Community Service Committee. We have had several dinner meetings with members of the many nations represented in our medical community.

The recently rejuvenated ACP Illinois Council of Associates has representatives from many of the internal medicine residency programs in Illinois. A great number of the community hospitals represented on this Council of Associates have residency programs with a large number of IMGs. The Council of Associates this year put together an Associates Day that was attended by over 500 residents. Clinical vignettes were presented and medical jeopardy trials were held. The participants in the clinical vignette competition as well as the medical jeopardy trials were an almost equal mix of US medical graduates and International Medical Graduates. This can be looked at as a real success - where medical school origins do not matter, but presentation and performance are the true keys to achievement.

We have done nothing special - just tried to be fair and fairness begins at home. At our community hospital we have increased our Board scores from a borderline 65% pass level to a +90% - thus giving the young men and women who train here a fair start. Illinois has few sites for J-1 and H-1 visas so many of our graduates leave the state to fulfill the obligations of their visas. We have had good luck supporting them in their bids for fellowship training and in trying to place them when ready to start practice. At present we have many International Graduates represented on our primary care staff as well as our consulting staff. Dr. Hadi Dizadji, FACP (cardiologist/Iran) - emeritus Professor of Medicine and Cardiology, University of Illinois College of Medicine was Chair of the Medicine for ten years, headed a Cardiology Fellowship, was President of the staff and is still a revered teacher in our Cardiology program for students, associates and fellows. We look forward to bringing more of our own back home to Mercy to serve the communities they represent.

We aren't perfect and I don't know how to get everyone active in the College. I feel IMGs look to the ACP Fellowship as an assurance of achievement and acceptance and I think it is true. In the final tally what really counts is ability, honesty, effort, communication and caring. Our IMGs have made a big effort to get here and they are doing a good job caring for the people we exist to serve.

One of the IMGs who has done an especially fine job is Serafino Garella, MD, FACP (nephrologist/Italy) - the Governor of the ACP for Northern Illinois - trained in Italy, Professor of Medicine, Chair of Medicine, Jefferson Award Winner for his CommunityHealth Clinic - a great volunteer organization to care for the underserved, Hispanic population.

The IMG has made a great contribution to medical care in Chicago and we will do our best to see they are treated fairly and given the opportunity to practice medicine to earn a living in a respected and wonderful profession and to fulfill our mission in health care.