How the travel ban would hurt our healthcare system

Although President Trump’s travel ban was repealed almost immediately after it took effect, Trump’s lawyers are hoping for quick relief in the appellate courts.

The ban not only creates uncertainty for American immigrants and visitors, but also for the state of medicine and science in the United States, which rely upon immigrant students and researchers. The possibility of a permanent ban brings up questions about what that means for the healthcare industry, whose dependence an immigrant workforce is expected to increase in the coming years.

Many studies have shown that American patients treated by foreign-educated doctors often have better outcomes than those treated by U.S.-educated doctors.  Rather than reflecting upon the quality of U.S.-trained doctors, this is a testament to the quality of the foreign-educated doctors that American hospitals attract – they are often both highly motivated and some of the highest caliber physicians in their home countries.  American doctors can also benefit from new cultural and medical perspectives and alternative problem-solving skills that foreign-trained doctors bring to the table.

In 2016, training hospitals in the United States listed offers for 27,860 job openings, but American medical schools only graduated 18,668 students. Those empty spots are typically filled by international doctors – something made much more challenging by injections of uncertainty into the U.S. immigration system.  Many of these doctors remain in the U.S. and provide needed services.  For example, 30% of American transplant surgeons earned their medical degree outside of the United States, and more than 2 million of the doctors practicing in the U.S. were foreign-born. According to a study done by Health Affairs, the services that would be most affected by the travel ban would be cardiology, neurology, gastroenterology, internal medicine, and pathology.

While Trump has called the ruling which halted the ban “outrageous,” the ban’s path through the appellate courts has cast a shadow of confusion and chaos, and its reinstatement may have long-term repercussions for advancements in science and healthcare.

Read more:

(1)   Associated Press, Trump lawyers ask court to move quickly on travel ban appeal, ABC News (Mar 22, 2017).

(2)   Elizabeth Whitman and Steven Ross Johnson, Trump’s travel ban sows uncertainty for healthcare and medicine, Modern Healthcare (Feb 4, 2017).

(3)   Jessica Glensa, Trump’s Travel Ban: data shows success of doctors trained abroad, The Guardian (Feb 2, 2017).

(4)   Ford Vox, Trump’s travel ban hits hospitals hard, CNN (Jan 29, 2017).

(5)   Kelly Gooch, How physicians from travel ban countries affect the US healthcare workforce, Becker’s Hospital Review (Mar 8, 2017).

(6)   Dan Diamond, Trump’s travel ban alarms health care leaders, Politico (Jan 30, 2017).

(7)   Michael F. Collins, Trump’s travel ban could cause irreparable harm to US healthcare system, STAT News (Feb 6, 2017).

 

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