AMA Wire

Wednesday, Sept. 19, 2012

Special Feature

IMGs have a true advocate in the AMA

IMGs have a true advocate in the AMA

Theoretically, these two physicians could have many things in common. They might be the same gender, share the same specialty or practice in the same area, just to name a few possibilities. But statistically, they most definitely share one commonality: Both are international medical graduates (IMG).

This is certain because 25 percent of all practicing physicians in the United States are IMGs, meaning they attended medical school outside the United States or Canada. That's more than 243,000 of the roughly 941,000 physicians practicing in the U.S., and they're playing a vital role in stabilizing the ranks of the nation's physician workforce.

With a predicted physician shortage looming, the need for primary care doctors is more acute than ever. IMGs are helping to meet the growing demand, constituting about 30 percent of the nation's primary care physicians. IMGs also are more likely to serve in medically underserved areas and comprise close to 40 percent of the physician workforce in inner city areas, according to an IMG workforce paper developed by the AMA-IMG Section.

That's why Congress' recent passage of legislation regarding the J-1 visa/Conrad 30 program is such good news. The bill, which would extend the visa program for three years, has been approved by both the Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives and now awaits President Obama's signature. Should this bill become law, it would be a significant victory for IMGs—and for the patients who rely so heavily upon them.

It also would be a victory for the AMA, which has been advocating strongly for an extension to the J-1 visa program. Such advocacy is just one way in which the AMA serves as the voice of IMGs, working to help them advance in their careers and advocate for their futures.

These efforts will be at the forefront of discussions this weekend when the AMA hosts the AMA-IMG Summit, Friday through Sunday at AMA headquarters in Chicago. The summit will celebrate the AMA-IMG Section's 15th anniversary and serve as a forum covering the many issues IMGs face, such as graduate medical education reform. Dialogue during the summit will help inform the AMA-IMG Section's strategic plan for the coming years.

If you'll be in Chicago this weekend, join your colleagues at the AMA-IMG Summit. And if you're not participating in the AMA-IMG Section, learn more about what it offers.

All AMA member IMGs are automatically enrolled in the AMA-IMG Section. If you're not an AMA member, join today and be part of the AMA's efforts as the advocate for IMGs.