Semi-retired and now possessing the necessary free time he would need, longtime MSMS member Ved Gossain, MD, FRCP©, MACP, FACE, could probably make a pretty penny on his life story if he ever decides to commit pen to paper.
The tale sounds like something straight out of a Hollywood script.
The youngest in a family of nine children, Doctor Gossain's household probably represented a fair chunk of the local population in the tiny, remote Indian (now present-day Pakistan) village he first called home. It was a humble beginning to say the least, but it was clear from the onset that Doctor Gossain's dreams would pay no mind to his circumstance.
"For as long as I can remember, it was always my dream to be a professor of medicine," Doctor Gossain says. "I never thought that dream would carry me to the United States, but that's how it played out for me."
His story is not one dictated by luck though. Talent and grit alone were the only tools Doctor Gossain employed in his ascent to the peaks of academia here in the United States. And as an international medical school graduate, it was a particularly hard climb.
Like many foreign medical graduates, educational opportunity is what drew Doctor Gossain to the United States. Having just completed his residency, Doctor Gossain made the bold decision to decline a job offer from Indian's top medical school in favor of pursuing an endocrinology fellowship in the United States -- something that did not exist in India at the time.
The transition should have been an easy one. When he emigrated in 1967, he was already a board-certified physician in India and recognized as such by the Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates (ECFMG). With all the prerequisite training complete, the pathway to a fellowship opportunity in the U.S. should have been seamless. That was not the case though.
"In the eyes of the U.S. medical system, the training I received in India didn't count for much of anything," Doctor Gossain says. "When I first applied for a position at the Springfield Hospital Medical Center (now Bay State Medical Center) in Springfield, Massachusetts, I was initially told I could join the staff as an intern, suggesting all the previous training I had received in India was essentially useless."
Doctor Gossain was eventually able to come to a compromise with the hospital, joining the staff in a supervisory role as a second year medical resident, but it would not be the last time his international training would pose a problem.
"I ran into the same sort of issue when I asked to take my boards," Doctor Gossain says. I had just finished my third year of residency, but the internal medicine boards wouldn't let me sit for the boards being that I had only completed two years of training here in the U.S."
Of course, Doctor Gossain overcame these hurdles, eventually joining the faculty at the Michigan State University as an assistant professor in 1975. He would climb to the rank of full professor and served as the Chief of the Division of Endocrinology for nearly 20 years.
Now partially retired, Doctor Gossain still serves as a professor emeritus, allowing him to focus on the aspects of academic medicine he most enjoys -- teaching and treating patients.
"I find a lot of joy in teaching medical students, medical residents and fellows. And to be a good teacher of Medicine, I think that you need to be a good clinician, and fortunately, I'm now able to devote most of my professional time to those endeavors at this point in my career," he says.
And when he's not in the classroom or the clinic, there's a good chance Doctor Gossain is working to serve his specialty of Endocrinology, by being a member of the Board of Directors of AACE (American Association of Clinical Endocrinology) or in his role as chairman of the American Medical Association's International Medical Graduate (IMG) section to see that future generations of international medical school graduates have it easier than he did.
"There's a number issues our medical system must address on behalf of our international medical graduates," Doctor Gossain says. "These students today are still fighting the same kind of battles I fought when I first came to the United States, and that just isn't right. We can do better."
Chief among those difficulties is the transfer of foreign training in to the U.S. medical system.
"If someone received training in a well-recognized institution abroad, there should be a pathway for that person to come to the U.S. without having to go through all the training again," Doctor Gossain says. Believe it or not, this problem is actually worse today than it was nearly 50 years ago when I was dealing with this."
Doctor Gossain's term as chairman of the IMG section will be up come June, but that does not mean his work on behalf on international graduates will be ending anytime soon.
"The IMG section's goal has always been to level the playing field, and we've had a lot of success in that regard here in Michigan recently with reforms to the USMLE licensure requirements," Doctor Gossain says. "I'm hopeful we'll make similar progress in other states around the country in the coming months. Our International Medical graduates should have the same opportunities that are afforded to everyone else, and I plan to always have a role advocating on their behalf."