How Foreign Physicians Can Work as Healthcare Practitioners in the US


Where you earn your education as a physician will impact where you can practice medicine. For instance, the education needed to become a practicing physician within the United States (US) requires years of education and clinical hours. For foreign-trained physicians living in the US, they will need to undergo an additional amount of education on top of the degree that they’ve already earned.

Why the Additional Education?

It said that the US has high quality standards when it comes to medical licensing. While foreign physicians may have gone through an exceptional amount of quality training overseas, the American medical industry has taken extra strides to confirm that foreign physicians looking to practice medicine in the US go through the educational training that’s set by American standards.

If you are a foreign physician interested in practicing medicine in the US, then you’ll need to prepare yourself to pass the US Medical Licensing Exams, get certified by the Educational Commission for Foreign Trained Medical Graduates, enroll in a residency program, and then take a third licensing test.

Foreign physician, Abdelsalam Elshaikh of Sudan, reported to MPR News that all of the first year pre-med courses such as physiology, biology, etc. weren’t taught to them. This is because the curriculum for some overseas education usually focuses on what the physician will actually have to deal with when treating patients—fieldwork. US standards require that physicians are fluent in the English language and have a basic understanding of the science field in general along with understanding the core requirements set by accredited universities such as:


Starting All Over

So, while many foreign physicians will have years of experiences diagnosing, treating patients, and administering medicine, in order to practice as a US doctor, it essentially requires them to start all over again academically, especially when the curriculum differs from overseas qualifications.


Many foreign physicians come to the US on a working Visa and work as a Patient Care Technician, Medical Assistant, or Registered Nurse. Some might even cross over onto the technical side of the healthcare industry and work as a lab technician. Even with these jobs, a certain amount of education is required.

Most foreign physicians are determined to practice medicine in the US, so the first thing they have to do is earn their pre-med degree. While it is possible to earn your undergraduate degree in Nursing and go on to become a licensed US physician, Florida National University (FNU) challenges you to enroll in our Bachelors of Natural Science program.

We also have a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) program. While our BSN program will certainly guide you toward a rewarding career in the healthcare industry, the Bachelors in Natural Science will better prepare you to pass your exams and get your physician’s license. You’ll study under the instruction of the professional board of faculty members who have years of experience in the field. The wide variety of courses offered also prevents you from pigeonholing yourself into one particular field of study. With the undergraduate program in Natural Science, you’ll earn a well-rounded degree in a variety of subjects that can catapult you into a licensed doctor practicing in a specialty of your choice.

What Type of Specialties Can Foreign Physicians Practice?

BioExplorer reports that there are approximately 44 different types of doctors, but as the medical industry continues to evolve, more specializations arise. As a foreign physician, this gives you at least 44 different career options to pursue as a US healthcare practitioner. Here is a short list of just a few of these specialties:

  • Family Medicine Physician – This type of doctor is most general type of practice that can treat a wide range of patients of all ages. If this kind of doctor finds anything too serious, he or she usually refer their patient to a specialist.


  • Gastroenterologist – This kind of doctor focuses on the health of the stomach, the small and large intestines as well as the pancreas and liver.


  • Endocrinologist – Studies internal medicine related to the human body’s hormone levels.


  • Neurologist – Studies the brain.


  • Ophthalmologist – Specializes in the surgical treatment of the eyes.


  • Orthopedist – This type of doctor will specialize in the disease, injuries, and treatment of the foot that involve the muscle, nerves, bones, etc.


  • Pediatrician – Pediatricians treat children. Since these patients are still developing and growing, this kind of doctor not only focuses on the physical health, but also the emotional and mental well being of children.


  • Periodontitis – Studies the health of the mouth.


  • Surgeon – While most of these kinds of doctors may be involved in surgical procedures, to pursue a career as a practicing surgeon will keep you heavily involved with removing and/or transplanting body parts and organs.


  • Veterinarian – Not all doctors are involved with treating human beings. Veterinarians specialize in treating animals. In this profession, you can specialize in treating farm animals, domestic animals, or exotic animals. Some veterinarians treat all kinds!

The Choice Is Yours!

Whichever type of doctor you want to become, it all goes back to getting your undergraduate degree. At FNU, we offer online courses that you can take 100% online. Our university is fully accredited and we offer financial assistance that will help make your education affordable. We also have two campuses in the South Florida area located in Miami and Hialeah should you prefer to learn in a traditional classroom environment.

If you are a foreign physician, earn your Bachelors Degree in Natural Science at Florida National University. Contact one of our advisors today to start the enrollment process now!

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