Foreign-Born to Help Fill Gap in U.S. Doctors

foreign-born doctorsWhile Americans are justifiably worried about high unemployment levels and the “jobless recovery,” Reps. Lamar Smith, Steve King, and Elton Gallegly are attempting to use America’s concerns as an opportunity to pass more restrictive immigration policies. In fact, immigration restrictionists across the country have taken advantage of the poor economy to push their anti-immigrant agenda.

But there’s another story to be told. Last week, the Wall Street Journal reported that there are simply not enough doctors in the U.S. to treat the population. Some areas are already experiencing doctor shortages, and as the new health care law is fully implemented, more and more people will be eligible for health insurance and will need care. As many as 150,000 doctors could be needed in the next 15 years. Immigrants will most certainly be helpful in filling the gap.

Immigrants are already an important force in the health care industry—comprising27.3% of all physicians, 20.1% of all nursing, psychiatric and home health aids, and 18.7% of all dentists, pharmacists, and lab technicians in the U.S., according to data by the Immigration Policy Center.

Some, however, will argue that native-born U.S. citizens should be taking those jobs, and they are. But experts acknowledge that, at current graduation rates, the U.S.’s medical schools will not be able to meet the shortfall. Moreover, the greatest demand will be for primary care doctors, but the number of medical school students entering this specialization has dropped by more than 25% in recent years.

The health care reform bill provided some incentives to encourage more Americans to become medical professionals, and several new medical schools have opened. But even as more native-born workers pursue jobs in the health care industry, immigrants can complement the U.S. workforce and help to fill the gap.

Demonizing immigrants for “stealing American jobs” glosses over the fact that immigrants have and will continue to play an important role in filling labor gaps in the U.S. Even with the current high unemployment rates, immigrants are still filling jobs that are experiencing shortages. As the economic recovery continues, the U.S. will continue to look to immigrants to complement the U.S. labor force in certain sectors and industries.

michele waslinIt’s important that the U.S. gets it right—our immigration policy must be an effective tool to help drive the economy. It is clearly not the only tool as emphasizing training and education for U.S. workers is critical as well. But our current employment-based immigration system is out-of-date and in dire need of repair. Congress should stop using the economy as a predicate, and should start designing and implementing effective immigration strategies to help our economy recover.

Michele Waslin

Republished with permission from Immigration Impact.

 

Comments

  1. Sam Wise says

    Hey, I’d be glad to go to medical school if my government and community helped me pay for it. If we have a need for more doctors, let’s solve the problem while also lifting our fellow community members.

    Instead of bringing more foreigners into this country, let’s set up public funding for Americans who could do the jobs if given financial support for the training. 

  2. Annette says

    Even with the current high unemployment rates, immigrants are still filling jobs that are experiencing shortages.

    That’s exactly the problem. Corporations and businesses would much rather hire non-Americans who are less likely to expect and demand fair treatment from their employers. Today, liberals are angry about union busting by the Republicans, yet at the same time, they’re pushing for more immigration that has the same negative effect on American workers. How about we use our money to help American citizens pay for college, especially for expensive programs like medical school. If for some reason we can’t find enough Americans who want to attend med school, THEN we open the market up to foreigners.

    It’s important that the U.S. gets it right—our immigration policy must be an effective tool to help drive the economy. It is clearly not the only tool as emphasizing training and education for U.S. workers is critical as well.

    If there were a way to allow guest workers to live and work here without their children becoming “instant citizens,” it would make sense to increase temporary visas. But the long term impact of constantly increasing immigration is devastating to our economy.

    When will liberals start to understand that what “drives” the constant demand for increased immigration, including illegal immigration, is:
    1) American corporations profiting from a constant influx of cheap labor that undermines our country’s economy and workers’ rights here.
    2) Foreigners desperate to escape economic hardship in their own homeland.

    Helping to change the economic conditions in other countries is the solution, not encouraging foreigners to come here and degrade our economy as well.

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