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The Importance of Verifying Foreign Medical Credentials

Think back to the last time you were treated by a primary care provider (a physician, nurse, dentist, etc.). Did they receive their medical training in the United States? Increasingly, they may not have. Medical professionals who immigrate to the United States need a credentials evaluation of their foreign degrees so they can practice here. NACES provides guidelines for academic evaluations but not for verification of foreign medical degrees. SpanTran requires verification of all health science fields prior to releasing the evaluation. This is important because the cost of missing fraudulent credentials is so high.

The demand for skilled medical professionals, including nurses, physicians, dentists, physical therapists, speech therapists, and more, is growing in the United States. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, “the growth and aging of the population will contribute to a 22 percent increase in demand for physician services between 2005 and 2020.”[1] And, according to the Association of American Medical Colleges, the nation will have a shortageof 21,000 primary care physicians by 2015.[2] One way the U.S. is meeting this demand is by attracting trained medical professionals with foreign degrees, which requires evaluating and verifying their academic credentials. A lot of professionals are coming to the U.S. to meet this demand.

The Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates (ECFMG) issued 9,791 certificates after examination to physicians alone in 2011. And ECFMG sponsored another 7,456 J-1 visas for foreign doctors who wanted to study in the United States for residency or fellowship opportunities.[3] This data doesn’t even include dentists, nurses, or others. That’s a lot of potential doctors entering and working in the United States every year!

We want as many qualified candidates as we can find because the lack of primary care providers pushes up the cost of health care, which increases health insurance premiums. Everybody would like lower cost health care but we don’t want quality to suffer. SpanTran conducts credentials evaluations of foreign degrees and verifies whether their studies are equivalent to a U.S. education. This service fills a vital need in the health care plan for America. The companies evaluating a foreign diploma are in a unique position to review academic transcripts and diplomas on a page-by-page, and even course-by-course, basis. We are trained to locate instances of fraudulent documents and fraud is more prevalent than you might realize. We also have the capacity to directly verify documents with the issuing institution. These services take time and money, but they are vital to ensuring that the stream of foreign doctors and nurses are properly cleared before providing health care to ourselves, our children, and our neighbors.

Medical malpractice is a serious issue confronting the United States which costs the economy $55 billion annually.[4] According to the Government Accountability Office (GAO), it also contributes to rising health insurance premiums![5] Practicing doctors and nurses are well trained, but if individuals with fraudulent credentials were allowed to practice, the economic and social costs would be even greater. This is why SpanTran requires verification of all foreign medical degrees and nursing degrees prior to releasing evaluations.

Medical malpractice is a serious issue which already impacts our health care system. While the legislators are reforming health care SpanTran is ensuring that medical professionals have verified foreign credentials before releasing their academic evaluation. Next time you visit your physician, think about how glad you are to know they were really trained at an accredited medical school!

References:

  1. “The Physician Workforce: Projections and Research into Current Issues Affecting Supply and Demand”, US Department of Health and Human Services, December 2008. Accessed May 15, 2012; http://bhpr.hrsa.gov/healthworkforce/reports/physwfissues.pdf
  2. Fact Sheet, HealthReform.gov. Accessed May 15, 2012; http://www.healthreform.gov/newsroom/primarycareworkforce.html
    1. “The Association of American Medical Colleges estimated that the nation would have a shortage of approximately 21,000 primary care physicians in 2015. Without action, experts project a continued primary care shortfall due to the needs of an aging population, and a decline in the number of medical students choosing primary care.”
  3. “2011 Annual Report”, Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates. Accessed may 22, 2012; http://www.ecfmg.org/resources/ECFMG-2011-annual-report.pdf
  4. “Malpractice liability costs U.S. $55.6 billion: study”, Reuters.com. Accessed May 22, 2012; http://www.reuters.com/article/2010/09/07/us-malpractice-usa-idUSTRE6860KN20100907
  5. “Implications of Rising Premiums on Access to Health Care”, Government Accountability Office (GAO). Accessed May 22, 2012; http://www.gao.gov/new.items/d03836.pdf

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