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Turkish Doctors in the United States PDF Print E-mail
2009-03-25 19:14:15
According to author Marc Angel’s book, La America: The Sephardic Experience in the United States, Jack David Hananiah was the first Sephardic Jew in New York to become a dentist. The date on which Hananiah received a dentist’s diploma was June 8, 1917. Hananiah was not only a Sephardic Jew, but he was also a Turkish-born citizen of the Ottoman Empire. He was born in Smyrna (Izmir), an ancient city in Western Turkey. Unfortunately, later he was murdered in his office by a former patient. His brother Ely also became a dentist.  

Being a dentist was a big deal in the early 20th century for new immigrant colonies in New York; therefore La America, community newspaper of Sephardic Jew, was proud to inform its readers that the Sephardic community had their first dentist.

Since 1917, many Turkish-born doctors have practiced in the United States. In the 1950’s and 1960’s, many doctors came to the United States from Turkey, creating a new trend, among the educated, of moving to this continent.  During the years after WWII, economic and military relations between the United States and Turkey played an important role in the arrival of 4,000 Turkish engineers and doctors to this country.

The doctors who arrived in the 1950’s are now enjoying their retirements.  Many continue to live in the U.S., while some of them went back to Turkey.  

Nowadays there is no accurate source on how many Turkish physicians are practicing in the United States. Thus, preparing a special health issue was a very hard and long struggled for us, as this issue is the first publication about Turkish doctors in the U.S. and we did not have enough information about who is practicing where and in which specialty.

We would have not been successful in finding a broad doctors’ list, if we had not focused on the tri-state area of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut.

According to our research, there are approximately 200 Turkish physicians practicing in the tri-state area. The majority of them obtained their education in Turkey, then immigrated to the U.S.

In the past, the private medical industry in Turkey did not advance or grow as much as it should have; for this reason, the doctors preferred to stay in the U.S. Recent economic developments and the achievements of the private health industry in Turkey now make the U.S. less attractive for Turkish-born doctors.

The doctors who graduated from Turkish universities, almost all of them, are very proud of having had a good education in Turkey. According to our research, Cardiology, Internal Medicine, and Dentistry are the most popular specialties among the Turkish doctors currently practicing in the U.S.. They mostly graduated from prestigious medical schools, such as Capa, Cerrahpasa, Ankara University, and Hacettepe.

Among these 200 doctors, there is also an eye-catching second generation of successful names. Dr. Mehmet Oz, Erol Veznedaroglu, and Caner Z. Dinlenc are some of them.

Unquestionably Dr. Oz is the best known Turkish doctor in the U.S. He is vice-chair and professor of surgery at Columbia University and directs the Cardiovascular Institute and Complementary Medicine Program at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital. Oz is the health expert on The Oprah Winfrey Show, the highest-rated talk show in American television history.

In addition to Oz, many successful Turkish doctors heal their patients and they have respected reputations in the health industry. It’s very common to see a Turkish doctor in any city’s list of top doctors. Psychiatrist T. Byram Karasu, cardiac surgeon M. Arisan Ergin, transplant surgeon Sukru Emre, and pediatric endocrinologist Levon Agdere are just the names on New York Magazine’s latest “Best Doctors” list.  

Our Special Health Issue cover story is about Zeki Uygur, a true treasure for Turks in New York since 1969. I am sure that Dr. Uygur will be angry at us for putting him on the cover because he always wants to avoid publicity, but I believe that it was a binding duty to tell his tale for future generations. Personally, I have never met him, but in order to prepare the cover story we talked to many of his friends, patients, and colleagues. As his friends say, we haven’t met any person who speaks negatively about Dr. Uygur. He has conquered the hearts of Turkish people and I hope you will enjoy reading his story.
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