Foreign-Trained Doctors are Critical to Serving Many U.S. Communities

The American Immigration Council(AIC) published a special report on the critical role foreign-trained physicians play in serving U.S. communities. The following is an excerpt of some of the findings discussed in the report:

Foreign-trained doctors are particularly important in certain medical specialties.
Foreign-trained doctors are more likely to practice in primary-care fields compared to U.S.-trained doctors, who are more likely to specialize in other areas. For example, the Chicago Council on Global Affairs found that “native-born physicians are choosing more lucrative specializations, such as dermatology, obstetrics, and orthopedics. This leaves generalist positions like family medicine, internal medicine, and pediatrics more likely to be filled by foreign-born practitioners.” This reality is leading to severe shortages of critical primary-care, pediatric, and family medicine physicians in the rural areas of the Midwest and elsewhere.

Foreign-trained doctors are more likely to serve areas with greater poverty, less education, and more minorities.
It is clear from the available data that foreign-trained doctors are more likely to practice medicine in areas of the United States that have higher shares of poor, less educated, and minority residents. This is notable since research shows that these populations are less likely to have access to health care than in areas with predominantly wealthy, highly educated, and white residents. For example, one study found that, after controlling for other demographic and economic factors, 25.6 percent of African Americans and 24.3 percent of Hispanics lived in zip codes with few or no primary-care physicians, compared to only 13.2 percent of whites.

Limited legal U.S. immigration channels available to foreign-trained doctors compound shortage.
There is a growing need for doctors and accessible healthcare across the United States, especially in underserved areas. As data analyzed in this report show, foreign-trained doctors are critical to meeting that need. Yet U.S. immigration policies significantly limit the ability of these doctors to immigrate to the United States and practice medicine after completing their medical residencies.

Finally, AIC called on policymakers to consider how foreign-trained doctors fill shortages and provide medical care in key areas as they make decisions that may impact doctors’ ability to immigrate to the United States and practice medicine here.

Please feel free to contact our office if you have any immigration questions.