Policies on U.S. Citizens Studying Medicine Abroad Need Review and Reappraisal

Gao ID: HRD-81-32 November 21, 1980

GAO reviewed U.S. citizens studying medicine abroad, concentrating on: (1) the education or training provided by six foreign medical schools in which several thousand U.S. citizens are enrolled; (2) the clinical training which U.S. citizen foreign medical school students receive in U.S. hospitals; (3) the avenues available for entering the American medical system; and (4) federal financial assistance provided to U.S. citizens while studying medicine abroad. Many U.S. citizens attend foreign schools with the goal of returning to the United States to practice medicine. Much concern has been expressed about the recent proliferation of medical schools established abroad to attract U.S. citizens, and questions have been raised about the adequacy and appropriateness of that educational experience for practicing medicine in the United States.

GAO believes that more appropriate mechanisms are needed to ensure that all students who attend foreign medical schools demonstrate that their medical knowledge and skills are comparable to their U.S.-trained counterparts before they are allowed to enter the mainstream of American medicine. The foreign medical schools which GAO visited differed considerably, but did not offer a medical education comparable to that available in the United States because of deficiencies in admission requirements, facilities and equipment, faculty, curriculum, and clinical training. A serious shortage was the lack of adequate clinical training facilities. Many U.S. citizen foreign medical school students obtained part or all of their clinical training in U.S. hospitals, but that training was not comparable to that provided to U.S. medical school students. State licensing boards are becoming increasingly concerned about U.S. citizens from foreign medical schools obtaining their clinical training in U.S. hospitals. Foreign medical schools do not receive direct federal financial assistance, but may receive guaranteed student loans or Veterans Administration (VA) educational benefits.


Our recommendations from this work are listed below with a Contact for more information. Status will change from "In process" to "Open," "Closed - implemented," or "Closed - not implemented" based on our follow up work.

Director: Franklin A. Curtis Team: General Accounting Office: Human Resources Division Phone: (202) 275-5451

The Justia Government Accountability Office site republishes public reports retrieved from the U.S. GAO These reports should not be considered official, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Justia.