NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

U.S. SAVIOR: FOREIGN DOCTORS

August 1, 2007

The arrests of the physicians in connection with the attempted British bombings will no doubt bring new scrutiny and calls to stem the tide of these immigrants.  But the United States has a growing shortage of doctors and a need for more -- not less -- of the brightest medical minds in the world, says Greg Siskind, chair of the Foreign Medical Graduate (FMG) Taskforce for the national coalition of physician immigration lawyers.

The shortage is happening for a number of reasons, says Siskind:

  • The United States has opened almost no new medical schools in the past 25 years, leaving a physician population that has remained flat while serving a U.S. population that is expected to grow by 25 percent between 2000 and 2025.
  • Nearly one-third of doctors are older than 55, with more choosing early retirement.
  • Half of all medical school graduates are now women; family demands are causing many women to reduce their hours or to leave the profession when they have children.

Furthermore:

  • The number of Americans older than 65 will increase to 54 million by 2020; as we age, our need for medical care increases.
  • As more treatment options are available and new technology is developed, Americans are more likely to seek out the services of a physician or specialist.
  • We're also losing more physicians as they finish training here to other countries such as Australia and Britain, which are facing shortages themselves.

These facts are important because of the knee-jerk reaction that we should take measures to prevent the entry of foreign-born physicians, says Siskind.  This would be a disaster for American health care and it would not make us safer.  We need to increase physician immigration and increase the supply of U.S. medical school graduates.  Otherwise, we'll face a future of rationed health care.

Source: Greg Siskind, "U.S. Savior: Foreign doctors," USA Today, July 31, 2007.

 

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