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Filipino MD Succeeds In Becoming A Practicing Doctor In The US

Among foreign medical doctors practicing in the United States, whose ranks are declining, pediatrician Ryan Chio is rather unusual. At 35 years old, he is among the few practitioners under 40 who obtained their education in the Philippines. It may be several more years before other foreign medical graduates could have the same opportunity he had.

“This is because the numbers of accredited American medical schools and U.S.-trained medical students have increased substantially in the last decade, while the number of residency slots barely budged,” Chio explained.

“But with the new Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, the U.S. already faces a shortage of physicians in many parts of the country, especially in specialties where foreign-trained physician are most likely to practice,” he added.

Chio earned his medical degree from Davao Medical School Foundation in 2005. Working abroad, specifically in the U.S., had always been his dream.

But getting a medical work authorization in America was a “long roller-coaster journey” for Chio, who is also part-Chinese. “Finding my future was not easy, especially since I only had a tourist visa and was not allowed to work in order to support myself financially,” he said.
Chio came to New York in 2007 right after taking the medical board exam in the Philippines. Then on a B1 tourist visa, he had to convert his status to an F1 student visa in order to take classes at Kaplan Medical for the state medical exam. Later, when he got matched for residency training, the student visa had to be converted to a training visa (J1).

After passing the medical state exam, Chio finally got his chance of a lifetime.
“I had interviews with some U.S. hospitals and luckily got matched in Elmhurst Hospital at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York.”

He did three years of pediatric residency training and an extra year as a chief resident. But this didn’t turn out to be his happy-ever-after. He had to move to California soon after his residency training to provide medical services in an underserved area. This was the only way to waive his J1 visa and acquire an H1 working visa.

“I am currently holding an H1 visa and my green card is due next year,” he said with a smile on his face. “It seems easy, but not really. There was a time when my visa was denied. I also got held by immigration officers at the airport several times. [I have] received a visa notice of intention to revoke by the USCIS [U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services]. But my faith and perseverance have truly helped me surpass all these.”


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