This Month's News
International medical graduate issues are focus of AMA summit
About one quarter of all practicing physicians in the United States are international medical graduates (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 today, who play 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 International Medical Graduate Section.
That's why Congress' recent passage of legislation regarding the J-1 visa/Conrad 30 program is such good news. The bill, signed into law by President Obama, extends the visa program for three years. This is a significant victory for IMGs—and for the patients who need them.
It also is 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 were at the forefront when the AMA hosted the AMA-IMG Summit on Sept. 21-23 at AMA headquarters in Chicago (slides and presentations will be available soon on the AMA website). The summit celebrated the Section's 15th anniversary and served as a forum for exploring the many issues IMGs face, such as increased graduate medical education slots, immigration law reform and equity in state licensure regulations.
Another issue noted by presenters at the summit was the "brain drain" of health professionals from the world's less affluent countries. A recent essay in the New York Times, for example, calls for a major expansion of US health profession schools and a decreased reliance on foreign-trained health professionals.
All AMA member IMGs are automatically enrolled in the AMA-IMG Section. If you're not an AMA member, join or renew today and be part of the AMA's efforts as the advocate for IMGs.