Doctors Without Jobs Says Recent Residency Match Leaves More U.S. Physicians Jobless

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There's a reported doctor shortage, but nearly 2,000 doctors don't get residencies each year, which means they can't practice medicine. Doctors without Jobs is working to increase awareness of the problem and to seek solutions so American doctors can work.

We can't let our U.S. physicians be shut out of their professions.

Each spring, students graduating from medical school look forward to the day they find out where they will be in residency, the next stage in their career as physicians. But nearly 2,000 doctors recently found out they won’t be working as doctors, even though the Association of American Medical Colleges says a physician shortage is here and looms larger, expected to reach 121,000 by 2030.

“In recent years, about six percent of U.S. medical school graduates have not moved into residencies each year,” says Kevin Lynn, Founder of Doctors without Jobs. “If you don’t get a residency, you cannot be licensed to practice as a doctor. We cannot continue to ask our best and brightest to commit four years of their lives to higher education and another four years to specialized education in medicine – taking on hundreds of thousands of dollars in student debt – and then say, ‘Sorry, you can’t work as a doctor.’

“There has to be greater awareness that we’re not putting all our doctors to work, and then the situation has to be remedied. That’s why we are running an awareness campaign in Washington, D.C. now. We want to bring this to the attention of lawmakers, relevant governing bodies and the general public.”

The annual ritual of pairing current and prior year med school graduates with residencies is managed by the National Resident Matching Program. NRMP is a nonprofit, nongovernmental organization created in 1952 to place American medical school students into U.S. teaching hospitals’ residency training programs, which are mostly taxpayer subsidized through Medicare funds.

Last month, 44,600 doctors registered for the 2019 Main Residency Match which pairs current and prior year med school graduates with residencies. Of those registered this year, 38,376 applicants submitted program choices for 35,185 positions. In this year’s match, 1,162 U.S. medical school seniors and 811 previous U.S. graduates did not match to residencies, according to NRMP data.

At the same time, the NRMP data shows that 4,028 non-U.S. citizen students/graduates of international medical schools did receive residencies in the 2019 Match. The number of non-U.S. citizen students/graduates of international medical schools who receive U.S. residencies has increased each year since 2011, when the number was 2,721, to a total through this year of 31,894.

“All levels of American labor have been impacted by the importation of lower-priced labor, so it’s probably not surprising that the medical community also has seen an increasing number of foreign doctors, although people are surprised when they learn this,” added Lynn. “But we can’t continue to leave our U.S. medical doctors shut out of their professions; we must prioritize hiring our U.S. doctors before importing doctors. The Resident Physician Shortage Reduction Act of 2019 may be the start of addressing the problem, but it must focus on prioritizing U.S. citizen medical school graduates. If this legislation is simply more government-sanctioned labor arbitrage, then that’s bad for our U.S. doctors and bad for America.”

About Doctors without Jobs

Doctors without Jobs explores why some U.S. citizen medical school graduates in good standing do not match to residencies and seeks to build awareness of the issue and find solutions. It is a project of Progressives for Immigration Reform, a nonprofit 501(c)(3).

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Maria Fotopoulos

Kevin Lynn
since: 04/2019
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