More Employment Opportunities in US for Doctors
By Anwar Iqbal

An advocacy group associated with APPNA, an organisation of Pakistani-American physicians, had arranged the event to support a bill which seeks to create better employment and training opportunities for foreign medical graduates in the US. – File Photo


Washington, DC: Foreign physicians who want to work in America should be allowed to do so, argued a senior US lawmaker, Congressman Mike Doyle.

Even those who come here “on a J-1 visa should be able to stay if they wish to,” he added as a group of Pakistani physicians applauded.

Mr Doyle was one of more than two dozen US lawmakers who spoke at a “Day on the Hill” event arranged by US physicians of Pakistani origin.

“It’s unprecedented,” said Dr Nisar Chaudhry, who has participated in hundreds of such events on Capitol Hill, the seat of US legislature. “I have never seen so many lawmakers speaking at a Pakistani event.”

An advocacy group associated with APPNA, an organization of Pakistani-American physicians, had arranged this event to support a bill which seeks to create better employment and training opportunities for foreign medical graduates.

“This bill is important and that’s why we want it adopted,” said Javed Suleman, a former APPNA president. “There’s a growing shortage of doctors in the United States and this bill addresses this issue by creating more employment opportunities for physicians.”

Dr Suleman said that by 2015, the US will need 60,000 additional doctors and this figure will go up to 120,000 by 2025. “So it makes no sense to send those back who come here for further education or training.”

“We do need more physicians,” agreed Congressman Ed Royce, who heads the powerful House Committee on Foreign Affairs, “and I will do all I can to create better opportunities for them.”

Another congressman, Henry Waxman, while supporting the proposed legislation, urged Pakistani-American physicians to “back those lawmakers who will do what you want them to do.”

Congressman Andre Carson, the second Muslim member of the US House of Representatives, said he not only supported the proposed legislation for creating more employment for doctors but was also demanding immediate immigration reforms.

“Ingenuity will be impeded if America closes its doors to new immigrants,” he added. “We all need to work for comprehensive immigration reforms.”

The bill H.R.2484, also known as the Physician Access Act, seeks to provide incentives for physicians to practice in rural and medically underserved communities.

For achieving this target, it proposes amending the Immigration and Nationality Technical Corrections Act of 1994 to make the J-1 visa waiver program permanent.

Those coming to the United States on a J-1 visa need to return home and work there for three years before they can come to this country to seek employment.

The proposed legislation excludes alien physicians from this restriction if they complete national interest waiver requirements by working in a health care shortage area.

This facility will also be available to those alien physicians who completed such service before the date of enactment of this Act and any spouses or children of such alien physicians.

The legislation also sets forth specified employment protections and contract requirements for alien physicians working in underserved areas.

It increases the number of alien physicians that a state may be allocated from 30 to 35 per fiscal year in specified circumstances.

The bill provides for additional increases or decreases based upon demand. It also provides up to three visa waivers per fiscal year per state for physicians in academic medical centers.

The bill permits dual intent for an alien coming to the United States to receive graduate medical education or training, or to take examinations required for graduate medical education or training.

It exempts H-1B non-immigrant aliens seeking to enter the United States to pursue graduate medical education or training from specified entry limitations.

“This bill will help the people of this country by bringing in more doctors and it will also help those physicians who want to work here,” said Dr Talha Siddiqui, who heads the advocacy group that organized the event.

“That’s why we support this.” - Courtesy Dawn


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Editor: Akhtar M. Faruqui
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