Though in some markets across the globe the statement above does still have merit, it no longer applies to a large majority of the thriving medical tourism markets.
Many of the physicians in developing markets are educated in the US or Western European medical schools. These foreign doctors are trained as rigorously as their US/European counterparts and need to be fully accredited by the home country’s health governing body.
As a number of the best physicians in the developing world are trained at western universities, these doctors return home to their home countries to open a practice or work in a public hospital. As medical travelers hear this for the first time, they often ask the question, ‘Why would a doctor get trained in the developing work to return to an undeveloped market?’ This isn’t always a simple answer and it certainly will vary from physician to physician; however, there are a few points that should be mentioned.
Previous Commitment: A majority of the foreign doctors trained in the U.S. or Western Europe are part of government programs that require them to return to their home countries for extended periods of time, for example approximately 8-10 years in Thailand.
Quality of Life: In many cases, the quality of life that physicians can have in their home country will exceed that of the U.S. or Western Europe. Many physicians work a standard 8 hour work day and enjoy a flexible schedule; life of a physician is the opposite in the developed world as many physicians work more than 12 hours daily, 6 days a week. In addition, a doctor salary in a developing country will go farther than a developed country.
Patient Interaction: Physicians in developed economies adhere to a daily schedule that is diced in 30 minute increments often leaving very little time to spend with individual patients. Doctors in the developing economies typically spend more time with individual patients, feel free to get to know the patients better, and are able to provide a more personalized attention.
As for foreign trained physicians, being non-western trained does not mean doctors are not qualified. In fact a study published by Health Affairs “found no significant mortality difference when comparing all international medical graduates with all U.S. medical school graduates”. In other words, there are excellent foreign trained physicians abroad that can provide you with top medical care.
More often than not, a doctor that is training in a developing country is given a lot more responsibility at an early stage. Typically a doctor in a developing country is obligated to work for at least one year in a public hospital or in a less economically fit/more isolated region of their country prior to finishing his/her studies. This leads to early application of learned skills and allows for quicker integration into practice. Interesting enough, many doctors from developed countries will actually train in developing nations for early hands-on experience in an operating room and for responsibility to make patient decisions.
When looking for medical attention abroad, either from western or non-western educated physicians, it is important to perform a thorough research about the doctor and his/her credentials. In HuliHealth, we strive to provide you the most complete profile from the best doctors abroad.
Do you have any experience with doctors abroad that you would like to share?
By Andrew Schemmel, Gabriel Perez and Anthony Morano