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International Medical Graduates (IMG) Law Poses Potential Threat to US Residency Programs

A law intended to increase the public’s access to medical care in medically underserved areas (MUA) and Health Professional Shortage Areas (HSPA) has been passed in Texas and New York. Unfortunately, it seems as though the law will have disadvantageous results despite its beneficent intentions.

International Medical Graduates Timelines

The law targets international medical graduates (IMGs) who apply for a Texas medical license on or after September 1, 2012 and are planning to practice medicine within the state. Requiring all non-citizens and non-permanent resident physicians to practice in an MUA or HSPA for three years, regardless of where the residency or fellowship training was conducted, this law greatly limits the locations in which the physicians may practice within Texas. This limitation is cause for worry as it lessens the likelihood of these highly-trained and much needed physicians to practice in the state.

International Medical Graduates in Texas

While this law does not affect those physicians who practice in graduate medical education programs in the state, once the training program is completed and the IMGs seek to practice in Texas, they would mandatorily need to practice in an MUA or a HSPA. Fortunately for those IMGs who will have received their Texas medical licenses before the first of September, this new law is not retroactive. In addition to this inconvenience faced by International Medical Graduates, those physicians on J-1 visas face similar limitations on their practice. These physicians are required to return to their home country two years after their training has been completed. Before applying for a dual-entry visa, the physician must stay in the home country for two additional years. If an IMG wishes to forego this process, it is required to obtain a waiver by practicing in an MUA for three years, the same time frame as that of the new law. However, the majority of IMGs in residency currently are on H-1B visas, which does not present the limit on practice area. With this severe limitation presented by the new law in Texas and New York, the appeal of residency programs in the United States gravely depreciates for IMGs who are looking to practice in the states. According to the Association of American Medical Colleges, one fourth of all physicians in active patient care in the United States consist of IMGs. Additionally, IMGs make up one fourth of all medical residents in the United States. International Medical Graduates LawIf there is a drop in interest in our residency programs, there is bound to be a drop in the availability of highly trained physicians. As there is already a shortage of physicians, thus the passing of this new law, any actions which might worsen this situation should be steered away from. If you would like to speak with one of the Partners at Oltarsh and Associates, P.C. regarding the new International Medical Graduates Law, give us a call at (212) 944-9072.

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