In light of recent reforms to the nation's immigration policy, the American Medical Association (AMA) adopted policy aimed at ensuring that qualified international physicians, medical students and residents are able to seamlessly practice medicine and obtain their medical training in the United States. Under the new policy, the AMA will advocate for immediately reinstating premium processing of H-1B visas, as well as timely processing of visas in general, for physicians and physicians-in-training to make sure patients have adequate and timely access to care.
The AMA's policy also calls on the AMA to work with other organizations to study the current impact of immigration reform on residency and fellowship programs, the overall physician supply, and patients' timely access to health care throughout the country.
"Restricting travel based on where a person is from or the religion they practice goes against the very principles and policies that the AMA has adopted over the years to enhance diversity in the physician workforce and improve patient access to quality care. The AMA strongly supports and recognizes the valuable contributions that international medical graduates, students and residents make to American medicine, especially the significant role they play in providing care to patients in rural and underserved communities," said AMA Immediate Past President Andrew W. Gurman, M.D. "Given that one out of every four physicians practicing in the United States is an international medical graduate, we strongly urge the federal government to rethink its immigration policies to ensure there are enough available physicians to care for our most vulnerable patients in our most underserved communities."
Through the new policy the AMA will also oppose laws and regulations that would broadly deny entry or re-entry to the U.S. to any person holding a current legal visa, green card authorizing permanent resident status, or student visa based on their country of origin and/or religion. Additionally, the AMA will oppose any policy that would broadly deny any person from obtaining a legal visa based solely on their country of origin and/or religion.
The policy builds on the AMA's efforts to ensure that U.S. immigration reforms do not negatively impact the U.S. health care system. In February, the AMA expressed concerns to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security that the Administration's executive order is affecting both current and future physicians, as well as medical students and residents, who are providing needed care to underserved patients and communities throughout the country.