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The Travel Ban and Foreign-born Physicians


Posted by Anonymous at 2/10/2017 8:51:20 AM

Physicians and the Impact of the Travel Ban

Travel Ban and Foreign-born Physicians

There has been considerable speculation in the media lately regarding how the travel ban will affect foreign-born physicians, both from the seven nations affected and from other nations not currently on the list. Articles on this topic referencing Merritt Hawkins have appeared in the New York Times, U.S. New & World ReportForbes, and the Chicago Tribune.


Though the situation is still fluid and its impact on foreign-physicians hard to assess, it is apparent that the ban will have an immediate impact on a relatively small number of physicians. According to the Forbes article above, 260 medical graduates from the seven banned nations have applied for the 2017 resident Match, vying for some 27,860 positions. Given the current match rate for international medical graduates (IMGs), which hovers at slightly over 50%, approximately 130 of these applicants would be likely to match. A smaller number would then be likely to complete their residency programs and seek to practice in the U.S. The net number is therefore limited – probably around 100.


The larger question is what effect will the ban have on physicians from nations not on this list, who are likely to constitute a significant number of medical residents in 2017 and in subsequent years? The chart below showing 2016 matches for first-year residency positions offers some indication:

 

   2016 U.S. Residency Match – First Year Positions 

U.S. Allopathic Graduates…………18,187 

  Percent matched…………………….93.8% 

 U.S. Osteopathic Graduates……….2,982 

 Percent matched……………………….80.3% 

 U.S. Citizen IMGs…………………………5,323 

 Percent matched…………………………53.9% 

 Foreign-born IMGs…………………….7,460 

 Percent matched………………………50.5% 

 

 Source: National Resident Matching Program, March 18, 2016 

 

A combined 21,169 U.S. allopathic and osteopathic grads applied for the 2016 Match, leaving about 6,600 potential positions to be filled by IMGs (both U.S. citizen and foreign-born). U.S. citizen IMGs, who contributed about 2,800 medical graduates to the 2016 Match, are of course not affected by the ban. The same general numbers are likely for 2017. Foreign-born IMGs therefore represent a significant number of doctors in the pipeline (about 3,700 in the 2016 Match). They also represent a large number now in the workforce. Roughly one-quarter of in-practice physicians in the United States are foreign-born IMGs.


Should this source of physicians diminish as a direct or indirect result of the ban, it would have a significant impact on physician supply, reducing the number of FTEs during a time when the physician shortage is projected to grow. The issue is not confined to those medical graduates or physicians directly impacted by the ban. It extends to those from other countries, including non-Muslim majority countries, who may rethink their intention to train in the U.S. because of the ban. The situation therefore merits the close attention of those who track physician supply, demand and access issues. Merritt Hawkins recently completed a white paper on IMGs examining what is required for them to practice in the U.S., how many there are and related topics, which I would be happy to email to readers. In addition, I would be happy to hear from those who have insights into this topic and can be reached here.


Phillip Miller is Vice President of Communications for Merritt Hawkins, the nation’s leading physician search firm and a company of AMN Healthcare (NYSE: AMN).





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