How foreign-trained doctors are filling the health care gap in Greater Minnesota


To Milagros Zegarra, the forests and lakes of Bemidji are a far cry from the bustling streets and beaches of Lima, Peru.

Zegarra spent most of her years growing up in Peru’s capital city, attending medical school and beginning her career as a doctor there. But in 2002, Zegarra came to the United States, partly to escape the instability that was then affecting her home country, and partly to take advantage of an opportunity to work in a state-of-the-art medical facility, which she did as an internal medicine resident at the sprawling Texas Medical Center in Houston.

Today, she’s a nephrologist — a kidney specialist — at Sanford Bemidji Medical Center, working in a town of 14,000 people best known for its university and its statues of Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox.

Zegarra’s background may seem unique for a doctor in Greater Minnesota, but if the state’s health-care trends continue as they have been, it won’t be.

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