Medicine is a profession with an interesting anomaly. If you go to a hospital in any part of our country, from small towns in Alaska to the bustling borough of Manhattan, you will find an immigrant wearing a white coat, sporting M.D. after their perhaps unfamiliar sounding last name.

Yet in 2021, there are still large and well-respected Schools of Medicine across The United States that have a soft bias and bigotry against International and Foreign Medical Graduates. According to the NRMP, year after year there are a few thousand applicants who apply through the NRMP Match but do not achieve medical residency. These folks have successfully graduated from medical school and because of the implicit and overt bias against International and Foreign Medical Graduates have dreams and aspirations that slowly slip through their fingers.

Medicine is a hyper-personalized industry that cannot be automated by algorithms and artificial intelligence software to determine whether one qualifies for a residency. A residency applicant is not applying to buy a car only to be filtered out by Watson over at IBM—this is a person with a rich history, and many applicants are marginalized still by the country they grew up in or what their last name happens to be. A few years ago, one of our team members attended the ACGME conference where a Program Director for a prestigious school of medicine outright told her

”I do not want a candidate for residency from you with an Indian last name”.

It should be noted that our team member presents as white—leading the Program Director to believe it was acceptable to share this overt bias and bigotry. I wonder what the Program Director would say about my application: with a name like Michael Everest, two parents who immigrated from India, and skin as caramel-hued as the filling in my favorite Ghirardelli chocolate squares. The point is none of this should matter!

Outside of purely moral reasons, we are in the middle of a doctor shortage of terrifying proportions. This thought pattern, which shrouds actual racial bias under a veneer of supposed academic integrity, ignores the unique history that International and Foreign Medical Graduates offer. Physicians operate scientifically while bringing hefty doses of empathy to all they do. The diverse life experiences of IMG’s and FMG’s strengthen their ability to discern, think quickly, and connect with patients and should be viewed as an asset!