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New York Times Magazine Examines ‘Medical Brain Drain’

“[T]he United States, with its high salaries and technological innovation, is … the world’s most powerful magnet for doctors, attracting more every year than Britain, Canada and Australia — the next most popular destinations for migrating doctors — combined,” the New York Times Magazine reports in a story on how the promise of a better salary and working conditions is drawing newly trained doctors away from their countries to the U.S.

A law first passed in 1994 that allows “states to grant waivers to foreign doctors on J-1 student visas … has allowed more than 8,500 foreign doctors to gain jobs in rural communities, where patients often have to drive great distances to get medical care, and in underserved cities,” the magazine writes, adding, “For a diabetic or someone with heart disease in rural Nebraska, this is unquestionably a good thing. They may be unaware, however, that their gain is a poor country’s loss.” The article discusses how “medical brain drain from poor countries gets a fair amount of attention in international health circles, and initiatives both private and public are trying to resolve the shortage of doctors” (McAllester, 3/7).