Female IMGs Contribute to U.S. Physician Supply

As we celebrate International Women’s Day, we too celebrate the rise of female international medical graduates (IMGs). Though little attention is often given to the IMG community, there’s even less attention on females in the IMG community. Yet, over the past few decades, the supply of healthcare workers in the United States has been significantly impacted by female IMGs. That deserves attention.

The Rise

In a study completed by researchers with the Federation of State Medical Boards, “key findings indicated that between 1990 and 2014, first-time licenses issued to IMG females increased from 25% to 45%.” Growth among female physicians in the United States rose from 31% to 47%, too. By analyzing the number of first-time licenses issued to female physicians, researchers found, in the U.S., an average increase of 0.77% each year. In international regions, the percentage of first-time licenses issued to females varied. The Philippines increased from 39% to 59% and Mexico rose from 17% to 41%.

The Benefit

As more female physicians make up the physician population in the U.S., the quality of care improves and allows for a greater response to health care demands. Additionally, IMGs are generally known to be more culturally sensitive when communicating with their patients. Factor in physician contributions by gender too and patient interaction looks quite different.

In the Survey of America’s Physicians (2014), done by The Physicians Foundation, results noted female primary-care physicians tend to engage more in “patient-centered communication, spend longer time and address a greater number of patient issues” compared to their male counterparts. Nevertheless, the availability of both male and female physicians addresses patient preferences for physician experience as it relates to gender. The field of obstetricians and gynecologists is a great example where most female patients prefer a female physician.

Female IMGs, and IMGs altogether, find prestige in practicing abroad with technologically advanced environments and a higher standard of living. As a result, IMGs fill physician openings in rural communities and where there is demand within specialties, too.

The Continuation

In the end, the sizeable contribution IMGs, specifically female IMGs, have made to heath care in the U.S. continues to grow and evolve. Women continue to rise up from all different backgrounds and countries, graduate from medical school, and move on to practice in the U.S. Their communication skills, medical expertise, and overall quality of care is powerful in a field that needs more equality and gender distribution in the pipeline.


Arnhart, Katie, et al. “The Rise of Female International Medical Graduates and Their Contribution to Physician Supply in the United States.” Journal of Medical Regulation, vol. 103, no. 1, 2017, pp. 5–11., doi:10.30770/2572-1852-103.1.5.

The Physicians Foundation. 2014 Survey of America’s Physicians: Practice Patterns and Perspectives. Published 2014. Accessed March 7, 2019.