Dr. Michelle Anne Bholat (far right) gives a lesson on electronic medical records to IMG graduates. Photo: UCLA Newsroom

Monday, August 14, 2017

Across California, there is a shortage of Spanish-speaking, culturally sensitive physicians. Only 6% of the physician workforce in California is Hispanic, despite accounting for 39% of the state’s population. The UCLA International Graduate Medical (IMG) Program was developed by the UCLA Department of Family Medicine to address this dramatic shortage of Hispanic doctors and California’s changing demographics.

The Program, which is celebrating its tenth anniversary, provides Latino physicians a comprehensive education program to earn their California medical licenses and compete for a residency position in a California family medicine program. Upon successful completion of residency, program graduates spend between two and three years in an underserved community providing care to immigrants and low-income patients who face financial and language barriers to care. The objective of the Program is to increase the number of bilingual and bicultural Hispanic family physicians practicing in California’s underserved communities.

Since its inception in 2007, the program has trained 104 Latino physicians, 45% of whom were from Mexico, 20% from South America, and 18% from Central America. Co-founders Michelle Anne Bholat, MD, MPH, (Executive Director, Professor and Executive Vice Chair, UCLA Department of Family Medicine) and Patrick T. Dowling, MD, MPH, (Executive Associate Director, Professor and Chair, UCLA Department of Family Medicine) direct the Program.

The IMG Program has received international attention, including a recent report by EFE News. The article was syndicated by numerous international news outlets including La Opinión, San Diego Union-Tribune, Hoy Los Angeles, La ConexionUSA, Hidrocálido, Arizona Hispano News, el Economista America, Alianza News, La Guia Gratuita, World News en Español, and Meridiano90. The report features comments from Drs. Bholat and Dowling, as well as program graduate Dr. Blanca Campos.

Read more about the UCLA International Medical Graduate Program.

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