We Can Provide Our Own Doctors

The Quote Below—More Misinformation from the Media

“As an aspiring infectious disease doctor, I never thought I’d experience an actual pandemic during my training. But COVID-19 has dominated my experience as an internal medicine resident working in an ICU in Philly. . . . Prior to COVID, the country already had a shortfall of tens of thousands of doctors, according to the New American Economy think tank. As 76.4 million baby boomers continue to age, the gap is expected to grow by 90,000 physicians by 2025. In the midst of a pandemic, that need is greater than ever.

“Unfortunately, restrictive federal immigration policies, accompanied by difficult state licensing processes, are exacerbating this problem. This summer, President Donald Trump suspended many visas to the U.S., including some that allow foreign-born doctors to come and work here. . . .

“Eight years ago, I was a practicing physician in my native Colombia. . . . But when I launched my medical career in America, I had to start from scratch. . . . I could’ve gotten to work much faster and better served patients in the U.S. if the licensing process were more user-friendly for international doctors. . . .

“The United States needs more international health-care professionals like me — especially since bilingual clinicians are necessary to fight a virus that disproportionately affects immigrants and communities of color. . . .” – I’m an Immigrant Doctor in Philadelphia. It Shouldn’t Be So Hard for Us to Do Our Jobs, Monica Yulieth Hinestroza Jordan, Philadelphia Inquirer, 7/31/20 [link]

Fact Check on Above Quote: One wonders sometimes if Immigration advocates believe that Americans will do any jobs. Maybe citizens are adverse to picking strawberries for low wages under a hot sun for long hours. (For that matter, illegal aliens only do that work until they can find something better.) But is it really true that not enough Americans don’t want to be doctors anymore?

The author maintains that the covid crisis has revealed that we have a shortage. Some facts suggest otherwise. Before the pandemic took off in this country the unemployment rate of doctors was 0.4 percent. By April as the pandemic was hitting its peak, the rate rose to 1.4 percent. Many physicians were laid off who weren’t treating covid. Since then some have gone back to work, but others probably are still unemployed. For registered nurses, the jobless rate rose from 0.9 to 4.3 percent.

Another statistic that belies the claim of a current doctor shortage is that 6,500 recent U.S. medical graduates can’t work because they have yet to be admitted to residency programs. Meanwhile, the government continues to issue visas to foreign doctors to come to the United States.

As for the future, we have the capacity to meet our needs for doctors—although some reforms will be necessary. Many Americans would like to go to medical school, but there are not enough schools to accept them. The reason is that the American Medical Association acts as a cartel to limit the number of medical schools. The apparent purpose is to limit competition and boost medical salaries.

As the American Conservative notes, “In 1963, there were only 135 law schools in the U.S. Now there are 200. By contrast, the number of medical schools has barely grown in the past fifty years (the general population has tripled.)”

Along with creating more opportunities for Americans to become doctors it will be necessary to make the training less expensive without sacrificing quality. Artificial intelligence is another way we can meet our medical needs. Already we have the technology that can perform certain surgeries and interpret x-rays. Machines will never replace doctors, but they may eventually supplement a great deal of medical practice.

The author’s advocacy of importing foreign doctors raises an interesting ethical question. Should our country be trying to lure doctors from countries like her homeland of Columbia which are poor and are in much greater need of doctors than the U.S.? We don’t need to take doctors from elsewhere when we can provide our own.     W



Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here