Physician viewpoint: Association of American Medical Colleges should give US citizens preference for residencies

Giving U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents preference in residency matching processes may mitigate workforce shortages across the country, wrote Mimi Oo, MD, chairperson of the Alliance of Medical Graduates, in an oped for The Montgomery Advisor Oct. 27.

"In the most recent cycle, 48,700 graduates applied, but there were only 35,194 first-year residencies to go around," Dr. Oo wrote. "As a result, more than 13,000 new medical school graduates are unable to put their skills to use."

While Dr. Oo noted it is difficult to increase the number of spots due to residency funding coming from Medicare, she called upon the Association of American Medical Colleges to give preference to U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents.

This year, more than 7,400 U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident medical graduates went unmatched, she said. 

Dr. Oo said a number of factors — including profit motive — contribute to the current state of residency matching processes. 

She also noted that U.S. Rep. Terri Sewell of Alabama in March co-sponsored the Resident Physician Shortage Reduction Act of 2021, which would increase the number of Medicare-supported residencies by 2,000 a year from 2023 to 2029.

"This is an important piece of legislation, but it would be even better if it gave preference to U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents," Dr. Oo wrote. "That way, we could tackle physician shortages while also employing these physicians who have worked so hard to finish their education."

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