International medical graduates (IMG) play a big part in the U.S. healthcare system in areas where employee shortages exist. A recent study even showed that without their expertise, 20 percent of rural areas would not have the medical care their communities need. The American College of Physicians is currently pushing for new measures to streamline the ability of these professionals to train in the United States and remain here if the job market needs them.
“The United States has depended on IMGs to fill gaps in care in underserved areas since the 1970s, and will probably continue to do so for some time,” said doctor Jeffery Harris, the president of the American College of Physicians (ACP). “IMGs are crucial to our continuing to be able to provide adequate care to the populations they serve.”
The ACP notes that with the increase of diverse patients, physician profiles must also diversify to provide “culturally competent care”. IMGs are not the only way to accomplish this, and the ACP also promotes increasing the diversity of American physicians to meet the needs of patients.
The ACP recently published a position paper on international medical graduates in American medicine and outlined its goals to increase programs to attract this type of physician. Their efforts push:
- to streamline the process for J-1 and H-1B visas for IMGs
- for a long-term expansion of J-1 visa waiver programs
- to get an exemption from the annual H-1B visa cap in specialties facing a shortage
- to place doctors of internal medicine and other specialties where shortages exist as Schedule A workers by the Department of Labor
- to improve medical education and foster collaborations between the U.S. and less developed countries
- for more opportunities for U.S. physicians with the Global Health Corps to serve in less-developed countries
“The entry of approximately 6,000 IMGs into the United States every year contributes a few billion dollars to the U.S. economy, which is equal to the output of 50 additional medical schools without any cost to the taxpayer,” said doctor Nyapati R. Rao, the chairman of the AMA-IMG section governing council.
IMGs hail from 127 countries and diverse backgrounds and currently total 25 percent of the U.S. physician workforce. In Texas, approximately 13,700 IMGs are practicing in the medical field and work in internal medicine, psychiatry, pediatrics, anesthesiology, family medicine, general surgery, radiology, and obstetrics/gynecology. As foreign individuals and U.S. employers look to capitalize on the opportunity of the IMG experience, qualified legal counsel for immigration and visa matters is critical. H-1B and J-1 programs involve lots of paperwork, documentation, and follow up. Even minor errors can cause delays and denials, so seeking legal counsel early on is highly recommended.
Houston immigration attorney Annie Banerjee helps individuals and businesses throughout the state with all their immigration and foreign worker hiring concerns. The Law Offices of Annie Banerjee has more than a decade of experience in immigration law throughout Texas and the United States. As an immigrant herself, she knows the benefit of American traineeships and how an immigrant can greatly contribute to the modern U.S. workforce. She is an active member in her profession, with membership in the State Bar of Texas, American Immigration Lawyers Association, American Bar Association, and the Indian Chamber of Commerce in Greater Houston.
For more information:
Law Offices of A. Banerjee
131 Brooks Street Suite #300
Sugar Land, Texas 77478
Phone: (281) 242-9139
Fax: (281) 242-2058
2027 Sheridan Street
Houston, Texas 77030
Phone: (713) 793-6339