For foreign med students awaiting match day, Trump's immigration order causing 'havoc'

International students from the nations subject to President Donald Trump's executive order on immigration are now uncertain whether they will be permitted to enter the U.S. for medical residencies — or if they will even be offered spots at American hospitals at all, according to STAT.

On Jan. 27, President Donald Trump issued an executive order that temporarily blocks travelers and immigrants from seven Middle Eastern countries from entering the U.S. for 90 days while the government works to intensify its screening processes. "Match day," when medical students find out if and where they've "matched" for a residency in the U.S., falls within that 90-day period. Now, medical students from the seven countries named in the executive order — Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen — are wondering whether they will be allowed into the U.S. to work, while hospitals must decide whether to reserve the coveted slots for students who may not be able to fill them, reports STAT.

"It's just causing havoc," Atul Grover, MD, PhD, executive vice president of the Association of American Medical Colleges, told STAT. "Right now, you've got potentially hundreds of people that are actively pursuing a residency in the United States. This order gets executed, and now they're unclear on what it means for their status and whether they would be allowed to come."

Mona Signer, president of the National Resident Matching Program, told STAT hospitals are trying to learn more about the effects of the executive order, but that residency program directors "will be reluctant" to rank applicants from the seven affected countries.

American Medical Association CEO James Madara, MD, on Wednesday asked the Trump administration to clarify its policy. "The executive order places into question those [international medical graduates, or IMGs] who have applied for or who have been granted visas to come to the United States to train and provide care in underserved communities," Dr. Madara wrote to Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly, according to the report. "Guidance is urgently needed from the administration to ensure the upcoming residency matching program in March 2017 does not leave training slots vacant and that all qualified IMG applicants can participate."

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