Trump Travel Ban Throws A Wrench In Medical Residency Programs : Shots - Health News A medical residency program is the next training step for newly minted doctors, and awaiting "the match" can be tense. For some international students, Trump's travel ban has made that tension worse.
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Travel Ban Adds Stress To 'Match Week' For Some Doctors

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Travel Ban Adds Stress To 'Match Week' For Some Doctors

Travel Ban Adds Stress To 'Match Week' For Some Doctors

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  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/520137303/520364064" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
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STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Thousands of aspiring doctors learn news of their future on Friday. That's the day they're told where they'll be doing their medical residencies. Match Day is the end of a nerve-wracking process. President Trump's efforts to ban travel from six countries complicated the process even though it's, again, been stopped in court. Here's Elana Gordon from member station WHYY.

ELANA GORDON, BYLINE: About 40,000 students apply for medical residency in the U.S. each year for just about 30,000 slots. And for international medical graduates, it's even more competitive. Only about half typically get matched. For the roughly 1,000 applicants from countries that were included in President Trump's executive order on immigration, the pressure is even worse.

AMIN RABIEI: Yeah. It becomes, like, double the stress.

GORDON: Amin Rabiei went to medical school in Iran and has been working in Philadelphia on a research visa at Thomas Jefferson University. He got interested in medicine as a kid growing up in Iran. His dad had seizures, and his mom struggled to take care of him.

RABIEI: So I decided to come here to have, like, better opportunity for, like, research and clinical educations to hopefully share this information and these skills for the people who need this in the undeveloped countries.

GORDON: He's hoping to become a neurologist. But he worries he'll be even less likely to get matched and then get the right visa because of uncertainties from Trump's executive order.

RABIEI: When you try so much hard to get to your dream and all by sudden, you feel that there is unexpected problem, it's really a bad feeling.

WILLIAM PINSKY: It is a valid concern.

GORDON: Dr. William Pinsky is president of the agency that certifies all international medical graduates seeking residency in the U.S. It also sponsors visas for a majority of them. He says the timing of the first executive order was terrible for the residency match process.

PINSKY: Because that all came out, you know, right before the program directors turned their lists in.

GORDON: He's hopeful those who already have visas will be able to get their situation worked out. But residencies start in July, and there's still a lot of questions about who can get visas and how long it'll take. As a result...

PINSKY: I surmise - and have talked to a few program directors - that were probably going to rank individuals from these countries lower on their preference order than they would have otherwise.

GORDON: This unclear landscape makes Dr. Robert Wimmer of Einstein Medical Center uneasy. He heads a small pediatric residency program in a low-income neighborhood in Philadelphia that relies heavily on foreign medical graduates. He says they can't afford to accept someone in their new class of just 10 who might not be able to start come July because of these issues.

ROBERT WIMMER: We're just not willing to take any risk. It creates a hole for us in our program and what we're able to do here in North Philadelphia.

GORDON: And there might be long-term health impacts in the U.S. Pinsky says international doctors often provide care in areas that other doctors might not want to.

PINSKY: We potentially could be losing qualified people. And there won't be numbers to fill in the positions, so there could be an issue of access to health care.

GORDON: As for Amin Rabiei, he was thrilled to find out Monday that he has been matched somewhere. He'll find out where Friday. But he knows of others from Iran that weren't so lucky. For NPR News, I'm Elan Gordon in Philadelphia.

(SOUNDBITE OF TOE'S "BOYO")

INSKEEP: This story is part of a partnership with NPR, WHYY's health show "The Pulse" and Kaiser Health News.

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