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Health Care: Training Immigrant doctors

Tuesday, 13 August 2013 00:00

Dr. Jose Chavez arrived in Southern California with a medical degree from his native El Salvador.

He wanted to work as a doctor but faced a daunting series of costly hurdles to obtain a U.S. medical license. Instead of treating patients in a region with a severe shortage of Spanish-speaking doctors, Chavez cleaned houses, worked in a meatpacking plant and installed flooring.

"After working construction eight to ten hours, it's impossible to study," Chavez said. "You're burned out."

Today, he's a resident physician at Riverside County Regional Medical Center in Moreno Valley, thanks to a UCLA program that pays costs — for coursework, test-preparation classes and living expenses — while residents study.

The goal is to increase the number of Latin American physicians in medically underserved areas — like much of the Inland Empire — and improve care for patients. Ten graduates of the program completed or are doing their residency at Riverside County Regional.

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