Breaking News
November 14, 2018 - Change Within the Eye May Be Early Warning for Macular Degeneration
November 14, 2018 - Study of 500,000 people clarifies the risks of obesity
November 14, 2018 - Ultrasound releases drug to alter activity in targeted brain areas in rats | News Center
November 14, 2018 - Cancer stem cells depend on amino acid metabolism, and it’s proving to be their Achilles’ heel
November 14, 2018 - Epigenetic link found between prenatal exposure to maternal smoking and offspring’s cardio-metabolic health
November 14, 2018 - Meditation, music may change biomarkers of cellular aging and Alzheimer’s disease in older adults
November 14, 2018 - Multidisciplinaryresearch teams selected to study age-related brain disorders
November 14, 2018 - The Current issue of “The view from here” is concerned with Informatics
November 14, 2018 - Researchers identify tool to help transgender women have a more authentic voice
November 14, 2018 - Four faculty members appointed to endowed professorships | News Center
November 13, 2018 - Research finds strongest evidence yet that obesity causes depression
November 13, 2018 - Researchers compare stools of breastfed and formula-fed infants
November 13, 2018 - Entasis Therapeutics Announces Zoliflodacin Phase 2 Results Published in The New England Journal of Medicine
November 13, 2018 - Gene changes driving myopia reveal new focus for drug development
November 13, 2018 - $6 million grant to support study of preeclampsia, atherosclerosis links | News Center
November 13, 2018 - Beneficial gut microbes metabolize high-fiber diet to improve heart health in mouse model
November 13, 2018 - Excessive use of social media through visual postings linked to increase in narcissistic traits
November 13, 2018 - Study finds why obesity both fuels cancer growth and helps immunotherapy to kill tumors
November 13, 2018 - Women prefer and invest more in daughters, while men favor sons
November 13, 2018 - With hospitalization losing favor, judges order outpatient mental health treatment
November 13, 2018 - Transgenic rat model may provide new insights into cerebral amyloid angiopathy
November 13, 2018 - Study identifies factors tied to greater risk of advanced liver disease in cystic fibrosis patients
November 13, 2018 - Risk of blindness among premature babies with low levels of blood platelets
November 13, 2018 - A new strategy for combatting antibiotic-resistant infections
November 13, 2018 - Study aims to find which outreach method is more effective at improving cancer screening rates
November 13, 2018 - Insufficient sleep duration linked with unhealthy lifestyle profile among children
November 13, 2018 - IIASA researchers introduce new, simple measure for human wellbeing
November 13, 2018 - Magnetic nanosprings used as targeted drug delivery agents for anticancer therapy
November 13, 2018 - Scientists examine FCMs containing silver nanoparticles
November 13, 2018 - Failed DNA repair triggers chromosomal chaos
November 13, 2018 - Study shows new emerging role of osteopontin in HCV-related hepatocellular carcinoma
November 13, 2018 - Food insecurity during pregnancy linked to severity of neonatal abstinence syndrome
November 13, 2018 - Majority of Americans are concerned about health threat posed by antibiotic resistance
November 13, 2018 - Addition of Elotuzumab Ups PFS in Refractory Multiple Myeloma
November 13, 2018 - Study finds women with pregnancy-related nausea, vomiting use marijuana more
November 13, 2018 - Lethal heart rhythm more likely to be found in patients with common heart failure
November 13, 2018 - Study provides new clues to origin and development of multiple sclerosis
November 13, 2018 - Climate change could pose threat to male fertility
November 13, 2018 - Researchers discover how mitochondria deploy a powerful punch against disease-causing bacteria
November 13, 2018 - AHA: Traumatic Childhood Could Increase Heart Disease Risk in Adulthood
November 13, 2018 - Feeling the Burn? | NIH News in Health
November 13, 2018 - Women’s birth canals in Kenya, Korea, Kansas not the same: study
November 13, 2018 - Fecal microbiota transplantation effective against ICI-associated colitis
November 13, 2018 - New physical activity guidelines released that urge people to “move more”
November 13, 2018 - Angiotensin receptor blockers improve sodium excretion in blacks
November 13, 2018 - New project seeks to address alarming injury rate in youth footballers
November 13, 2018 - Fish oil or omega 3 fatty acid supplements can prevent heart attacks finds study
November 13, 2018 - The Human Heart-in-a-Jar That Could One Day Replace Animal Testing
November 13, 2018 - Treat patients’ partners without a doctor visit
November 13, 2018 - Belgian beer landscape mapped using scientific insights
November 13, 2018 - ‘Master key’ gene has links to both ASD and schizophrenia
November 13, 2018 - Gladstone scientists gain new insights into the aging brain
November 13, 2018 - Drug therapy can improve outcomes for acutely ill heart patients
November 13, 2018 - Three landmark studies provide better understanding of sudden cardiac arrest
November 13, 2018 - Cholesterol control revised in the latest AHA/ACC guidelines
November 13, 2018 - Vulnerable young teenagers urgently need better sex education, say researchers
November 13, 2018 - Breakthrough research reveals how deadly pneumococcus avoids immune defenses
November 13, 2018 - Researchers discover possible path forward in preventing cancers tied to two viruses
November 13, 2018 - Wishes can help pediatric patients to get better over time
November 13, 2018 - Janssen Reports Positive Topline Results for FLAIR Phase 3 Study of a Novel, Long Acting Injectable Two-Drug Regimen for the treatment of HIV-1
November 13, 2018 - Experimental compound reduces Gulf War illness-like behavior in mice
November 13, 2018 - Small-stature in rainforest populations may be linked to cardiac adaptations
November 13, 2018 - Study shows how pneumococci challenge the immune system
November 13, 2018 - Simple cysts can be safely ignored, study finds
November 13, 2018 - First fully personalized tissue implant engineered from patient’s own materials and cells
November 13, 2018 - FDA Approves Keytruda (pembrolizumab) in Combination with Carboplatin and Either Paclitaxel or Nab-Paclitaxel for the First-Line Treatment of Patients with Metastatic Squamous Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer (NSCLC)
November 13, 2018 - Scientists take big step toward finding non-addictive painkiller
November 13, 2018 - Diabetes medication reduces risk of heart failure hospitalization
November 13, 2018 - Achieving high follow-up rates for violently injured patient population is feasible
November 13, 2018 - Shortage of specific gene ‘silencing’ molecules linked with pediatric low-grade gliomas
November 13, 2018 - Abx-Resistant Enterobacteriaceae Tied to Clinical Failure in UTI
November 13, 2018 - US approves first new type of flu drug in 2 decades
November 13, 2018 - Is zinc the link to how we think? Some evidence, and a word of warning
November 13, 2018 - Dispelling taboos, Michelle Obama talks IVF and miscarriage
November 13, 2018 - Medical experts discuss future challenges of healthcare at HSMA’s inaugural conference
November 13, 2018 - Growth and spread of deadly eye tumor suppressed in cells, animals
November 12, 2018 - Study finds huge shortfall in use of home-based medical care by frail seniors
November 12, 2018 - Cocaine Cut With Anti-Worming Drug, Levamisole, May Cause Brain Damage
November 12, 2018 - Obese mice lose a third of their fat using a natural protein
November 12, 2018 - Behind many a Parkinson’s case lurks a mutation in a gene called LRRK2 — why?
Republicans’ drive to tighten immigration overlooks need for doctors

Republicans’ drive to tighten immigration overlooks need for doctors

image_pdfDownload PDFimage_print

“I guess they wanted to cut me off so that I wouldn’t be a competitor,” he recalled.

Yet, in the 37 years Raju has been practicing in Richland, more than 20 doctors have come and gone and he’s the only physician left — not just in Richland, but in all of Stewart County and neighboring Webster County, an area roughly half the size of Rhode Island with a population of more than 8,000.

“Today, I’m it,” he said. And his patients, he said, treat him with respect — and not as a foreigner.

Stories like Raju’s are the common thread for many immigrant doctors in the United States.

The American Medical Association said that, as of last year, 18 percent of practicing physicians and medical residents in the U.S. in patient care were born in other countries. Georgia’s percentage of foreign-born doctors is similar, at 17 percent.

Yet President Donald Trump’s focus on securing U.S. borders and restricting immigration — and the bitter arguments between the national political parties on the issue during midterm campaigns — have sown concerns about opportunities for foreign-born doctors.

Many of these doctors, like Raju, work in rural areas that are desperate to attract medical professionals. Yet those areas are often reliable supporters of Trump and his strict immigration policies. A recent national poll found that immigration is the top concern for Republican voters.

Some health care experts say Trump’s tough stance could make it harder for rural areas such as Richland to relieve critical physician shortages.

Georgia’s Republican lawmakers have considered legislation in recent years that opponents say would have restricted the rights of some immigrants. And Republican candidates for governor here campaigned in the primary this year on cracking down on illegal immigrants, though advocates for that position say bias is not the motivation, but rather the need for border security.

Raju’s patients say they don’t see any problem in seeking care from an immigrant. Raju has been treating Willie Hawkins, a retired road worker, for 30 years, as well as his mother and his sister.

Sometimes, Hawkins said with a smile, he has to ask the nurse what the doctor just said.

“You know, he talks a little funny,” said Hawkins, 66. “But who cares?”

Maybe when Raju first came here to practice, people were a bit skeptical, Hawkins recalled. Many had never met someone from India before, he said. “But today it just doesn’t matter,” he said.

Foreign-born doctors are vital to the national health system. The U.S. is grappling with a doctor shortage that’s expected to grow to as many as 120,000 physicians by 2030, according to the Association of American Medical Colleges.

Even now, primary care doctors are relatively scarce in certain areas of the country. Georgia has a few counties without any doctors at all, and many counties lack a pediatrician or an OB-GYN.

These immigrants help fill some of the gaps, especially in primary care, said Dr. William Salazar of Augusta University’s Medical College of Georgia, who came to the U.S. from Colombia. And rural Georgia has a higher percentage of immigrant doctors than do urban areas, said Jimmy Lewis of HomeTown Health, an association of rural hospitals mostly in Georgia.

“Foreign-born doctors go to places no one wants to go,” said Dr. Gulshan Harjee, a Tanzanian-born physician who co-founded the Clarkston Community Health Center, a free clinic serving mainly immigrants and refugees in metro Atlanta.

Patients’ Bias

Several foreign-born doctors here recalled awkward interactions with patients, occasionally experiencing bias.

“When they think you’re different, they think you’re not as smart, and think they won’t understand what you’re saying,” said Salazar. “You develop skills to overcome that.”

But patients overall are getting used to people from other countries, he added.

Saeed Raees, a pharmacist originally from Pakistan who co-founded the Clarkston clinic, said that “you’ll run into a small minority who don’t want to be seen by a foreign-born doctor or a Muslim doctor.”

Physicians from predominantly Muslim countries face increased pressure after the Trump administration tightened its visa and immigration policies. Several doctors said that their visa applications take longer than before or are on hold, and re-entry into the U.S. after traveling was difficult.

Nearly half of Muslim physicians in the U.S. felt more scrutiny at work compared with their peers, and many said they experienced discrimination in the workplace, according to a study by Dr. Aasim Padela at the University of Chicago. Nearly a tenth of the physicians surveyed reported that patients had refused their care because they were Muslim.

There is also acceptance.

Dr. Buthena Nagi, a native of Libya, is employed as a hospitalist at Navicent Health in Macon. Nagi, 40, completed her residency at Morehouse School of Medicine in Atlanta in 2015. But to stay in the country she has to meet immigration criteria.

Most foreign physicians complete their residency in the U.S., typically on a student visa. To remain beyond that, U.S. immigration law requires them to practice in a medically underserved area for at least three years. Afterward, they can apply for a green card and, eventually, American citizenship.

Nagi wears a hijab — a traditional head covering for many Muslim women — with her scrubs, and sometimes patients and colleagues ask her about it.

“I then explain that this is part of my religion,” she said. “And once the dialogue kicks in, the fear dies down, and people seem to understand that I’m not an alien from outer space.”

In metro Atlanta’s highly diverse DeKalb County, about 75 percent of the patients at the free Clarkston health center are immigrants, refugees or migrant workers. Up to 30 languages are spoken there. Co-founder Harjee said she speaks “only six.”

Sameera Vadsariya, 37, said through an interpreter that she loves the services there. She was born in India and is here on a visa. She has no health insurance, so the free services are worth the long wait for treatment.

Most of the volunteer doctors at the Clarkston clinic are foreign-born, said Harjee. “This is a passion for them. They want to give back.”

Opportunity Lost

Belsy Garcia Manrique also wants to play a role.

At age 7, she left her home in Zacapa, Guatemala, and headed north through Mexico with her mother and sister. It was a two-week odyssey — a combination of walking and driving — up to the southern tip of Texas. Her father, Felix, who had come to the U.S. two years earlier seeking political asylum, met them and drove the family to his home in Georgia.

For many years, she dreamed of being a doctor, hoping to treat Spanish-speaking patients in the parts of northwest Georgia where she was raised.

U.S. immigration policy, however, blocked her path to medical school. She was not a legal resident. Most states, including Georgia, prevented undocumented immigrant children like Garcia Manrique from qualifying for in-state tuition at public universities.

But Garcia Manrique caught a break when President Barack Obama issued an executive order six years ago that created the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. DACA offered more than 800,000 undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. by their parents a chance to stay without fear of deportation.

From 2012 to 2016, medical schools from California to Massachusetts accepted roughly 100 DACA students, whose families hailed from Mexico, Pakistan, Venezuela and other countries. Garcia Manrique applied to nearly 40 schools. The Stritch School of Medicine at Loyola University Chicago, the first medical school to accept DACA students, was the only one that offered her admission.

Shortly after taking office in 2017, Trump rescinded DACA, a move that has become the subject of ongoing legal and political battles. If the law stands, Garcia Manrique will be allowed to stay in the U.S. But if it’s overturned, she and DACA medical trainees won’t be allowed to renew their work permits.

Garcia Manrique is finishing medical school and applying for a residency program to train in family medicine. Only two Georgia medical programs — at Emory University and Morehouse College — said they would consider a DACA recipient. She applied to both.

Of her 50 applications, Garcia Manrique received interview offers from nearly a dozen programs, including ones in Illinois, California and Washington. She hasn’t heard from the ones in Georgia.

And these days she isn’t sure if the Georgia she knew, and the Georgia she loved, is a place where she’d feel welcome.

“After a certain time of being looked down upon, being told ‘no,’ going the extra mile to get the same benefits, you get tired of that,” Garcia Manrique said. “I’ve seen many immigrants who have talent in the South move out. Why not be somewhere where you’re wanted?”

Kaiser Health NewsThis article was reprinted from khn.org with permission from the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. Kaiser Health News, an editorially independent news service, is a program of the Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonpartisan health care policy research organization unaffiliated with Kaiser Permanente.

Tagged with:

About author

Related Articles