ProPublica, February 2, 2017
Marshall Allen


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[...] For decades, foreign-born doctors like Rehman, Jumaa and Ali have played a vital role in shoring up American’s health care system. The doctors come to the United States for residency, drawn by cutting edge medical training and American ideals, then stay to fill the country’s growing need for doctors. But Trump’s executive order this week — and worries it may expand to other countries, such as Pakistan — has touched off a wave of anxiety, anger and dire predictions that immigrant doctors, faced with hostility or uncertainty, may go somewhere else. The news made the front pages of media outlets across Pakistan and India.

“Overall the thing that attracts people to America is the society, the people, the freedom to pursue your dreams,” said Ali, who has raised three kids in Toledo. “If that paradigm changes then what’s the reason to come?”

And that, Ali and other physicians said, should worry everyone.

Foreign-born doctors often are willing to work in the isolated rural areas, small towns and blighted urban centers that many American-born doctors shun. It’s estimated that about 10,000 foreign-born doctors have served such stints. There are about 926,000 active doctors in the United States, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. As of 2013, about 45,000 of them came from India, 11,000 from Pakistan and 10,000 from the Philippines, according to data gathered by the American Medical Association. Another 3,800 came from Syria and 3,900 from Iran, which are included in Trump’s ban, the data showed.

The need for foreign doctors is likely to grow. A 2016 report by the Association of American Medical Colleges projected a shortage of between 62,000 and 95,000 primary care and specialty physicians over the next decade as the population grows and ages. Monday, the association, which represents medical schools and teaching hospitals, said Trump’s 90-day ban on visitors from seven predominantly Muslim countries could cause long-term damage to patients and health care in the United States. [...]

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