Dr. Lourdes Arriola

Internist Dr. Lourdes Arriola has practiced in metro Detroit for more than 30 years. But when she first arrived in the 1960s, she thought she was coming for advance medical training that she could apply in her home country. Lourdes earned her medical degree in 1965 from the University of Santo Tomas, the Philippines’ oldest university. Although her uncle offered to build Arriola a medical clinic of her own, friends convinced her to take the foreign medical graduate exam so she could seek an internship in the United States. She passed, and soon found herself in Pittsburgh, Pa. “Practicing medicine in the U.S. was easy for me because I did my internship and residency here,” she says. “But for a lot of foreign doctors, it’s very hard. Many doctors could be filling vacancies in American communities. We need to streamline the process so that immigrant doctors – especially older, experienced ones – can practice more easily in the U.S.” U.S. medical training was prestigious in the Philippines, and Arriola planned to return and open her own clinic after completing her training. But Ferdinand Marcos’ rule of the country prompted Arriola’s family to urge her not to return. So Arriola moved to Detroit to complete her residency. Her husband, whom she had met in Pittsburgh, is an engineer with Chrysler, and the couple decided to stay once Arriola was ready to enter a medical practice. She opened her own clinic, which, she says, has afforded her more personal contact with her patients. Thirty-three years later, Arriola and her family are still here. “Detroit is our home,” Arriola says. “We plan to stay put.”

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