An argument for International Medical Graduates (IMGs) as part of a state’s physician workforce is that they “fill the gap” created by the shortage of United States Medical Graduates (USMGs) required to meet the demand for physician services, especially primary care physicians in rural areas.

The purpose of this study is to examine the overall impact of IMGs on Kentucky’s physician workforce and determine whether they overcome the shortage of USMGs. Information from the Kentucky Board of Medical Licensure (KBML) was used to examine the distribution and practice patterns of IMGs and USMGs. IMGs are similar to USMGs in terms of gender, age, and average hours worked. IMGs were not any more likely than USMGs to practice in a primary care specialty. They were more likely to practice in a rural county and a county with a critical access hospital.

In conclusion, IMGs do not completely “fill the gap” in physician shortages in most Kentucky counties. More programs to attract and retain physicians should be developed, especially in rural areas. Additional residency programs at regional medical centers is one recommendation to accomplish this.

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Published in Journal of the Kentucky Medical Association, v. 110, no. 10. p. 417-421.

© Copyright 2012 Kentucky Medical Association. The copyright holder has granted the permission for posting the article here.