How Trump's immigration ban could make the physician shortage worse


President Donald Trump on Friday signed an executive order that places significant restrictions on travel and immigration to the U.S. from seven Muslim-majority Middle Eastern countries, which could have significant long-term effects in the U.S. healthcare industry, in addition to the immediate effects felt by providers who have been denied re-entry to the U.S. after traveling abroad.

President Trump's order temporarily bans travel to the U.S. by citizens of seven Middle Eastern countries, including Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen for 90 days. In practice, this has prohibited even legal U.S. residents from re-entry into the country. The rule also suspends the entire U.S. refugee admissions system for 120 days and the Syrian refugee program indefinitely, according to The Guardian.

Medical students and graduates of foreign medical schools will find out in March if they matched with a residency program in the U.S. However, President Trump's executive order has raised concerns that applicants from the seven indicated countries will be disregarded because of uncertainty on whether they will be able to enter and reside in the U.S., according to STAT.

Many say the order will exacerbate an already significant physician shortage in the U.S. Many international physicians have built their careers in the U.S and have helped relieve the strain of the shortage. For example, 30 percent of American transplant surgeons began their careers in foreign medical schools, according to the National Institutes of Health.

Even with the percolation of foreign physicians in the U.S. healthcare system, the Association of American Medical Colleges previously warned that the U.S. physician shortage will rise to between 61,700 and 94,700 by 2025, according to Forbes. Two hundred and sixty people from the countries affected by President Trump's executive order have applied for medical residencies in the U.S., each of which could "be seeing 3,000 patients each if they were all to match," Atul Grover, MD, PhD, executive vice president of the AAMC told Forbes

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