Trump’s Immigration Policies Add to Physician Shortage

Why Limiting Immigrants Actually Hurts Trump’s Base

President Trump, aside from bringing the US to the brink of nuclear war and going on Twitter tirades, has introduced legislation known as the RAISE Act.  The bill was introduced by two Republican senators but is now backed by the Trump administration.  Essentially, the entire purpose of the RAISE Act is to greatly restrict legal immigration.  Not illegal immigration but legal immigration.  The RAISE Act would do this by not only limiting the number of immigrants the US would take in but also by creating a merit-based or point-based system.  Though the US is a country of immigrants, stemming from poor unskilled laborer fleeing oppression, the United States would only take in the cream of the crop under the RAISE Act.  You might think any foreign doctor ready to work would be allowed to enter under this merit/point-based immigration system but that’s actually not the case.  Here’s why every doctor wouldn’t be allowed to enter the US and how the RAISE Act would hurt Trump’s key base.

Breaking Down Foreign Physicians

Foreign physicians come to the US seeking long-term and short-term work.  Some physicians aren’t actually physicians yet when they come to the US but are actually fulfilling med school requirements.  Other physicians are getting their first position since receiving their Ph.D.  Foreign physicians are considered skilled workers and will still need to acquire a visa and must remain employed while in the US.  Moreso, not every single foreign physician is wealthy.  Many are from modest backgrounds and will receive basic starting salaries at hospitals in underserved regions of the US.

Underserved regions of the US include Southern states, Appalachia, and rural areas across the United States.  Underserved regions aren’t attractive to American physicians as salaries are lower and hours are longer.  Hoping to stay in the US foreign physicians will take up a role at a hospital in an underserved region.  Foreign physicians account for roughly 25% of all physicians in the United States.  Again, the majority of the doctors will go on to work at hospitals in underserved regions.  This has been great for these underserved regions as immigrant physicians have alleviated the shortage in these regions, a shortage only expected to grow.

Now, even physicians are at a risk of not being able to come to the US to practice if the RAISE Act is passed.  Here’s why.

Breaking Down the RAISE Act

The RAISE Act allows a small number of immigrants to enter the US for work under a merit-based points system.  To even be considered for immigrant status and visas, an applicant has to score a 30 or above.   Here’s how a physician fresh out of medical school would fare assuming their job offer provides a salary of under $77,900 a year.

  • 26-30 (+10)
  • Foreign professional degree or doctorate (+10)
  • Good English ability (+10)
  • Job offer with a salary under 77,900 annually (+0)
  • No Nobel Prize (+0)
  • No Olympic Medal (+0)
  • No Investments over $1.35 million (+0)
  • Total= 30 points

With 30 points, this foreign born doctor would be able to apply for a visa, however, just barely.  If the physician manages to graduate medical school before age 26 or wants to train in the US during medical school, this would have brought their final score down to 28 which means they would not be able to apply for a visa.

This means that with a merit-based system and a stricter quota for legal immigration, hospitals in underserved regions might be at a loss.  Essentially, the RAISE Act could very well add to the physician shortage and directly affect Trump’s key demographic.

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