As we pointed out last August, despite the claims made by many in the media, and by politicians who are pushing legislation that will expand the number of foreign doctors admitted into the country, there is no shortage of doctors in the United Sates. The problem is a shortage of residencies for medical school graduates. One solution is to open up more residency slots, but what can and should be done immediately is to stop importing doctors from abroad to take residency slots that are being denied to U.S. citizens.
According to Doctors without Jobs, over the past decade more than 36,000 foreign doctors have been granted U.S. taxpayer-funded residencies. The argument in favor of bringing in foreign-national physicians is that the United States is not producing a sufficient number of qualified medical school graduates to meet our needs, despite that fact that thousands are waiting for spots in residency programs.
So how do those who claim a shortage of doctors account for all those U.S. citizen doctors being passed over for residencies? They simply ignore them. Doctors without Jobs is trying to make sure their voices are heard.
Video of Doctors without Jobs protesting outside the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC)
Here is the mission of Doctors without Jobs in their own words:
Doctors without Jobs explores why some U.S. citizen medical school graduates in good standing don’t match to residencies and seeks to build awareness of the issue. Areas of interest include how to increase the number of residency positions and how the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) and National Resident Matching Program (NRMP) policies could prioritize U.S. citizen medical students for residencies, along with how the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) could create policies to provide basic assistance to those who do not obtain residency training.
Last year, Esther Raja, an unmatched physician, explained part of the problem in an opinion piece in the New York Post.
The system put in place by the AAMC for doctors to apply for residency positions in the United States is complex, as are the corresponding immigration rules that allow thousands of qualified citizens to go unmatched while foreign nationals take residency slots. What is all too easy to understand, and familiar to everyone acquainted with U.S. immigration policy, is that profit motive outweighs consideration for the national interest, even when it comes to the nation's healthcare system.
There are U.S.-citizen doctors willing and able to work providing healthcare to Americans who need it. The immigration system is functioning as such to prevent them from practicing medicine in their own country.
Like so many other examples of the negative effects of current U.S. immigration policy, the failure of qualified U.S.-citizen doctors to find residency matches gets almost no attention in the media, and they have little representation on Capitol Hill. The more the public becomes aware of this issue, the more likely it will bring pressure to bear on those who profit from denying medical residencies to U.S. citizens.
ERIC RUARK is the Director of Research for NumbersUSA