Cities See Trend In Growth Of Backroom Latino Docs, Dentists


Newsweek reports on the growing issue of unlicensed Latin American doctors and dentist practicing out of back rooms in America, serving a largely Hispanic clientele. In recent years, in cities across the country, authorities have prosecuted dozens of unlicensed dentists and doctors. Many are charlatans, preying on the undocumented and uninsured. But at least some are legitimately trained medical professionals who say that language barriers, the high cost of licensing exams, and, in some cases, the need to repeat years of medical school have left legitimate practice out of their reach.

There are more than 200,000 foreign-born and foreign-educated doctors legally practicing in the U.S.–that's 24 percent of all U.S. doctors. But the vast majority of those “international medical graduates” (IMGs) hail from India, China, and Russia. Practically none come from Latin America. In fact, of the 10 most common countries from which IMGs hail, not one is a Latin American country. Still, thousands of Latin America-trained dentists and doctors have immigrated to the United States, spurred by a demand for Spanish-speaking medical professionals here and a dearth of opportunity in their home countries. In Mexico, for example, approximately 12,000 new physicians graduate every year, and there are only approximately 4,500 residency training spots available.

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