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Davidson, L. (1982). Foreign Medical Graduates: Transcultural Psychoanalytic Perspectives. J. Amer. Acad. Psychoanal., 10(2):211-224.

(1982). Journal of American Academy of Psychoanalysis, 10(2):211-224

Foreign Medical Graduates: Transcultural Psychoanalytic Perspectives

Leah Davidson, M.D.

In psychiatry, the issue of foreign medical graduates (FMGs) has been of concern since the early 1960's. Psychodynamically oriented psychotherapy, with its roots in analytic approaches, is a uniquely American product, and those foreign residents who had chosen psychiatry as a specialty had not only to overcome the language barrier but also to learn a whole set of new cognitive skills, while at the same time fulfilling the obligations of service in New York State and other American hospitals (1980, p. 119N). American psychiatry at this time placed great value and emphasis on psychoanalytically oriented approaches to mental illness. Oriental doctors, because of their lack of such training, were thus felt to be inadequate to the tasks of psychiatry. The unofficial hiring hierarchy used by administrators in hospitals at this time was as follows: (a) American residents, (b) European residents, (c) Latin American residents, and then (d) Oriental residents, in this order: Indians, Phillipinos, and Koreans and Thais.

I began training in 1963 as a rather more privileged English-speaking member of the foreign doctors group. Nevertheless, my own experience of transplantation was extremely stressful and shaped my interest in cross-cultural and transcultural psychological issues. Some of my material covers this experience and interest and includes information gathered from American, Oriental and other medical students at the University of Guadalajara in Mexico (Davidson, 1977).

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