America’s health care system faces many obstacles, one of which is patients having access to care, particularly minorities and/or those living in rural places. Additionally, the growth in the aging population contributes to a higher doctor-to-patient ratio, and time-consuming administrative tasks prevent providers from seeing more patients.
The Association of American Medical Colleges projects a shortage of up to 121,900 doctors by 2032. Those helping to alleviate this shortage, however, are foreign-born immigrants.
Benefits of immigrant physicians
Although there is not a decrease in students entering medical school, it takes many years to complete and ends in a mountain of debt. For this reason, many students choose to focus on a specialty that comes with a better salary instead of going into primary care. Immigrant doctors fill this space, as well as in specialty areas. Many decide to go where doctors are most in-demand (rural locations) despite there being fewer resources.
Challenges they face
Immigrant doctors must vie for a limited number of H-1B visas and then go through the process of obtaining permanent legal residency or citizenship if they so desire. Otherwise, they may have to leave the country, and their numerous patients who rely on them for accessible and quality care, if they cannot renew their visas. They must also secure proper documentation for their families.
In addition, the places these doctors serve tend to fall into Republican territories that support tight immigration laws. In many instances, locals receiving such respectful and dedicated care from a foreigner helps open their minds.
Help is here
It should not be this hard for those who want to aid the American people to get the approval and protection they need. If you are an immigrant physician, you have legal options to continue practicing in the United States.