ECFMG Warns That Travel Ban May Negatively Impact US Health Care

Posted on: October 23rd, 2017
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William Pinsky, MD, the President and CEO of the Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates (ECFMG) sat down for an interview with Association for Hospital Medical Education News and discussed the impact of the travel ban on graduate medical education in the US. Here are the highlights –

  • The timing of the executive orders earlier this year just before the annual resident Match was particularly problematic because programs had to make a quick decision on whether to list doctors from ban countries or not and ECFMG and there was great uncertainty on what to do
  • The number of international medical graduates matching to US residency programs actually increased, but many doctors who likely would have qualified in prior years probably did not because of programs delisting them from their Match list rather than taking a chance that they would not get a visa
  • Dr. Pinsky issued this warning on the long-term impact of the new immigration restrictions: “More significant than the results of any one Match is the potential accumulated effect of fewer international physicians entering the U.S. health care system over a sustained period. If U.S. immigration policy causes physicians and programs to make different choices—choices that reduce the number of international physicians entering U.S. GME—this could have a negative effect on health care in the United States.”
  • 97.8% of J-1 physicians had arrived at their sites by August 1st (programs generally start on July 1st)
  • Of those from countries on the travel ban 2.0 list, 87.7% were in J-1 status by August 1st. Many were waiting on USCIS to approve a change of status in the US.
  • After more than 30 Pakistani physicians were denied J-1 visas at US consulates after the Match, the majority have now resolved their problems and received a visa and, overall, 95.3% of Pakistani J-1 doctors have received their J-1 visas.