, Volume 78, Issue 1, pp 139–150 | Cite as

The characteristics and distribution of International Medical Graduates from mainland China, Taiwan, and Hong Kong in the US

  • Imam M. Xierali


As healthcare systems around the world are facing increasing physician shortages, more physicians are migrating from low to high income countries. Differences in medical education and international interaction may have significant effect on physician flows. The Chinese Medical Graduates (CMGs) in the US present an interesting case to examine this effect. This paper evaluated the current number and historical trends of CMGs in the US from mainland China, Taiwan, and Hong Kong comparing their differences and similarities in terms of demographic and geographic characteristics. Since 2000, the number of CMGs in the US showed a consistent upward trend at a rate of approximately 206 additional graduates per year. In 2010, there were 8,797 CMGs in the US. Compared to CMGs from mainland China, CMGs from Taiwan and Hong Kong were much older. Much larger proportion of Taiwan and Hong Kong CMGs were male. However, they were more likely to practice in solo settings than mainland CMGs. The vast majority of CMGs are concentrated in urban areas and no significant differences were found for their distributions in underserved areas. However, a larger proportion of Taiwan and Hong Kong CMGs were in western coastal states; whereas a larger proportion of mainland CMGs were located in eastern coastal states. Fluctuations in CMG numbers in the US reflect the significant differences within the medical education systems among the three. The seemingly homogenous CMGs in the US do show significant differences. Given the magnitude and historical trends of migration of CMGs to the US, further exploration of its causes and impact is needed.


China Chinese Medical Graduate Hong Kong Medical education Physician migration Taiwan The US 



The author thanks for the insightful discussion of the Chinese Medical Graduates with Professor Lin Liu of the University of Cincinnati and Professor Chris van Weel of Radboud University Nijmegen Medical Centre (the Netherlands) and for the editorial assistance from Dr. Winston Liaw, Assistant Professor of Family Medicine at Virginia Commonwealth University.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Family MedicineGeorgetown University Medical CenterWashingtonUSA
  2. 2.The Robert Graham Center for Policy Studies in Family Medicine and Primary CareAmerican Academy of Family PhysiciansWashingtonUSA

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