Dear Dr. Panush:
I appreciated what you wrote about FMGs in the latest edition of The Rheumatologist [January 2011, p. 21]. As an American FMG myself, I always found it interesting how the medical establishment was always dismissive of medical care and physicians outside of the United States. Any studies or achievements developed outside of the United States were often disposed as inferior by my attendings. My qualities as a physician were also belittled as a result of my foreign medical degree. This later dried up as I became chief resident, finished two subspecialty fellowships, and achieved board certification in three specialties.
You rightly point out the reality of FMGs in the United States, especially in New Jersey, but I have come to realize our patients are also from other countries.
But you are right, things have changed. The rest of the world has caught up with us and has passed us. Fareed Zarekia wrote a book about it, The Rise of the Rest. Globalization and the Internet are a reality. Rheumatology is no exception. EULAR is now seen as a premier meeting. The adoption and the sophisticated utilization of technologies such as video nailfold capillaroscopy and diagnostic ultrasound in Europe are light years ahead of the progress of the United States. We are now competing in a global environment.
You rightly point out the reality of FMGs in the United States, especially in New Jersey, but I have come to realize our patients are also from other countries. They do not always share the prejudices against FMGs that the American establishment harbored. They will seek out physicians from their own countries. Although I am American, I have Mexican patients seeking me out specifically because of my foreign degree in Mexico. They want someone who speaks their language and knows their culture. I have seen Mexican doctors posting their Mexican degree and their American postgraduate studies as a marketing tool in Spanish language advertising.
I remember your commentaries in the Yearbooks of Rheumatology and always admired your intellectual honesty. “Rheum with a View” is not different. Please keep up the good work.
John P. Lavery, MD