Visa complications slowing down noncitizen physicians

NEWS IN BRIEF — Posted Jan. 5, 2004

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The American Medical Association will work to minimize the time it takes international medical graduates to get a visa to participate in a U.S. residency program or practice medicine here, according to policy approved by delegates at last month's Interim Meeting.

According to testimony at the meeting, residency programs appear to be the most affected by the increased security procedures imposed since the Sept. 11, 2001, World Trade Center attack.

"In our residency program, we still haven't gotten the last two residents, and other residents are having to pick up their slack and cover their rotations," said Gregory Ayers, MD, chief resident at Baptist Health System, Birmingham, Ala.

"This affects all residents and medical education," he added.

Delegates also worried that residency programs no longer would be quite so willing to take in international medical graduates from certain countries in the future unless the visa process is made more efficient.

"Next year, they won't be willing to give spots to people from these countries," said Busharat Ahmad, MD, a Michigan delegate. "It's important to make sure Homeland Security is not bypassed, but we have to see if we can streamline the process."

Note: This item originally appeared at

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