Undocumented immigrants in medical school near graduation

A wave of undocumented immigrants in medical school are nearing graduation and hoping for residencies in top schools. But could the government prohibit them from becoming full-fledged physicians?

A recent article in STAT explored the issue.

In 2012, President Barack Obama passed the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals — or DACA — which gave certain undocumented students the right to obtain two-year work permits. But DACA may not always be around — it could be terminated before President Obama's tenure is up or after a new president is elected.

Through DACA and President Obama's initiatives, medical schools were allowed to accept undocumented immigrants. There are currently 61 out of the accredited 145 medical schools — including Maywood, Ill.-based Stritch School of Medicine at Loyola University Chicago and the David Geffen School of Medicine at the University of California–Los Angeles — that accept DACA students.

Through DACA, medical students aren't eligible for financial aid. But the Association of American Medical Colleges gives students financial assistance during the application process. In addition, the AAMC trains medical schools and residency programs involved in DACA. "We felt that it was absolutely the right thing to do to increase diversity," said Geoff Young, AAMC's senior director of student affairs and programs, according to the report.

Other recently enacted policies have also helped DACA students. In February, the Veterans Health Administration started giving residency students the opportunity to train in its clinics and hospitals.

Still, DACA's termination could put an end to such successes. Next month, the U.S. Supreme Court is set to hear a case that hopes to stop President Obama from expanding DACA. And after November, the newly elected president could overrule DACA.

More articles on integration and physician issues:
Physician diversity lags before med school begins: 7 things to know
CEP America partners with providers in California: 3 things to know
MEDNAX adds anesthesiology practice in Georgia: 3 things to know

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