Issue: Unmatched American Doctors. Agenda: Stop H-1B and J-1 job-killing Visas!

Currently, we have thousands of doctors in the U.S. who cannot get medical residencies, and thus can’t practice medicine. As we have sidelined our own U.S. doctor2s, in the last 10 years more than 40,000 foreign doctors have been given medical residencies at teaching hospitals in the U.S. – residencies that are paid for by you, the taxpayer!

The Association of American Medical Colleges promotes a policy that allows foreign medical students to take American students’ residencies.

The AAMC (Association of American Medical Colleges) has thus far refused to address this problem that leaves U.S. doctors jobless and often with hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt for their medical education.

More than 5,700 American medical graduates have gone unmatched for residencies in 2020 as the U.S. keeps importing thousands of foreign doctors on H-1B and J-1 visas to fill residency spots.

American medical school graduates, their Parents and Friends are asking President Biden, USCIS, US Senators and Representatives to halt the H-1B and J-1 visa programs that import thousands of foreign doctors every year — taking jobs from qualified Americans who are unmatched for residencies.

The United States is in the midst of the worst public-health crisis in a generation. So why are many of the nation’s newest doctors unable to find work?

More than 6,500 recent American medical graduates are currently sitting idle, having been passed over by residency programs around the country. At the same time, the government continues to issue thousands of visas to foreign doctors each year, ­despite the medical talent languishing at home.

Unmatched American Doctor

Relying on foreign physicians was difficult to justify even before the pandemic. But at a moment of crisis-level unemployment, and crippling demand for medical care, letting an army of American doctors sit on their hands is bonkers.

By the time American doctors graduate from medical school, they have spent nearly a decade navigating one of the most intensive and competitive systems of professional training on the planet. They have distinguished themselves in pre-med programs, performed well on the Medical College Admissions Test, defied the odds by earning entrance into a medical school, then completed their degrees at great financial expense. The average medical school debt in the United States exceeds $200,000.

Unmatched American Doctor

But many of these US citizens never get to apply their skills in a residency program — and as a result, they can’t practice medicine. This year alone, more than 2,000 seniors at accredited US medical schools didn’t match for a residency position.

These are capable physicians who’ve already treated patients during their clinical rotations in medical school. All have passed rigorous qualifying tests, including the US Medical Licensing Examination.

Unmatched American Doctor

But residency programs nevertheless rejected these American grads — who spend thousands of dollars in application fees alone — to make room for foreign applicants.

Sometimes, the hospitals that host residency programs have a financial incentive to accept foreigners rather than Americans. The Saudi government, for example, covers the cost of residency for certain Saudi doctors. That means residency programs can potentially bring in hundreds of thousands of dollars for each Saudi doctor.

Unmatched American Doctor

The Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates, which must certify foreign doctors before they can receive J-1 visas, also has a financial interest in this status quo. ECFMG brings in an estimated $1,050 per foreign doctor it certifies and charges applicants up to $4,000 in exam fees. The organization had a total revenue of nearly $90 million in 2018.

Nonfinancial factors play a role, too. Many residency-program administrators were themselves J-1 visa holders at one point. And they show a bias for their countrymen. It’s no coincidence that roughly 50 percent of all foreign doctors on J-1 visas hail from just three countries — Canada, India and Pakistan.

Unmatched American Doctor

Given these perverse incentives, it’s no surprise that more and more foreign doctors are coming to the United States to complete their residencies. The federal government approved more than 11,000 J-1 visas for foreign physicians in 2018. That’s an increase of 67 percent since 2008.

Not all of those J-1 applicants applied for residency slots, of course — but many did. This year, more than 4,000 noncitizens secured spots in US residency programs.

Leigh Sundem, MD Georgia Southern Memorial Scholarship Fund


Fortunately, policymakers and leaders in the medical community can address this distortion. Taxpayer-funded residency programs are under no obligation to admit qualified US medical grads over foreign doctors. Program administrators ought to be required to exhaust the pool of American doctors before considering foreigners.

The Biden administration could also extend its suspension of the J-1 and H-1B visa programs to include foreign doctors. That would help unmatched American grads fill positions that would have otherwise gone to foreign physicians.

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Finally, Congress could fund more residency slots at US medical institutions. Creating more training opportunities wouldn’t just reduce the number of unemployed physicians. It would also help stem the doctor shortage plaguing the nation. Today, the United States has 2.59 doctors per 1,000 residents. That’s among the lowest ratios of any developed country.

The COVID-19 pandemic has created a surge in demand for medical care — and an employment crisis unlike anything since the Great Depression. ­Allowing American doctors to remain jobless only exacerbates these problems.

“Let’s stop importing doctors while American MDs go jobless”, By Esther Raja via New York Post.

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