Kristina Sokolovska Konieczny studied medicine for six years so she could become a primary care doctor, then spent three years practicing family medicine. She worked in various places — at a public hospital, in the homes of people in underserved areas, in private practice, and at a top youth sports program doing sports medicine.
But today she no longer practices as a doctor. Instead, she works as a nurse at a short-term rehabilitation facility in Boston. The reason? Konieczny is an immigrant—and cannot get through the many roadblocks that stop foreign doctors from practicing in America.
Keeping qualified doctors like Konieczny from practicing medicine in the US is a colossal waste of human capital, especially when looked at in the context of America’s looming doctor shortage. The Association of American Medical Colleges estimates that by 2030, America will be short 120,000 doctors. Not surprisingly, the shortage is even worse in rural areas, where there are fewer hospitals, fewer medical schools, and older, poorer, and sicker populations more reliant on programs like Medicaid that pay doctors at lower rates.
The solution is an obvious one: allow more foreign doctors to practice in the US. According to one study, these doctors are far more likely to take positions in more rural, poorer areas where doctors are needed most. The only question is: how the US should go about integrating doctors from other countries into American hospitals? According to Vox writer Perrie Briskin, our northern neighbors up in Canada can provide us with the valuable clues we need to make this happen.