International medical graduates (IMGs) play an important role in the US healthcare delivery system. About a quarter of the 800,000 practicing physicians are IMGs, and 41% of practicing IMGs are in primary care disciplines (1). These physicians play a vital role in the care of vulnerable populations in the underserved areas of both urban and rural settings. In a survey conducted in pediatrics, international IMGs are more likely to work in underserved areas than are American medical school graduates (2).
About 18% of graduating pediatric residents are IMGs, and about 25% of fellows are IMGs (3). About 40% and 42% of internal medicine residents and fellows, respectively, are IMGs, and at least two-thirds of them are dependent on visas (4). The most common type of visa used by IMGs to participate in US medical programs is the J1 visa. Other types of visas are H1B and J2.
Limiting the number of working personnel in many government offices, including the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), will affect the processing of visas for graduating physicians, residents, and fellows, potentially leaving them unemployed for a few months after graduation, which is usually June 30, 2020.
Ranasinghe PD. International medical graduates in the US physician workforce. J Am Osteopath Assoc 2015; 115:236–241.
Umoren R, et al. The contribution of childhood and medical school location to the career paths of graduating pediatrics residents. Acad Pediatr 2015; 15:557–564.