Washington: An influential professional body of Indian-American doctors on Friday appealed to US lawmakers "not to ignore" physicians from the comprehensive immigration reforms, arguing that America faces shortage of doctors. During its day-long activities at the Capitol Hill, members of the powerful American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (AAPI) - which is a national representative's body of thousands of Indian-American doctors - met Congressmen to press for their points.
US lawmakers tended to support the AAPI's agenda. "We want the best, the brightest and the bravest to stay here," Congressman Joe Crowley, Co-Chair of the Congressional India Caucus, said in his address to APPI members, assuring that he would work for their legislative agenda. In fact, Crowley is sponsor of the "Resident Physician Shortage Reduction Act of 2013" which would provide an additional 15,000 residency positions in fiscal 2015-2019.
"The next Thomas Edison or Thomas Singh Edison would be from China or India. We may be blessed that he or she could be born here and his or her last name would be Singh," Crowley said. "We should be encouraging them to come here. But the reality is under the changes after 9/11 in our asylum laws, it would be more difficult for the Albert Einstein's to come to the US than we did before the second world war. That in itself speaks for itself for the need for change in immigration laws," Crowley said.
The Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) predicts that America will need 90,000 physicians by 2020. The number of physicians needed by 2025 according to the AAMC will reach a staggering 130,000. AAPI urged US lawmakers to include physicians graduating from accredited US residency programs for green cards, given that as part of comprehensive immigration reform, a proposal may include international students graduating with degrees in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) being fast-tracked for Green Cards.
"This proposal enables highly-skilled workers to remain in the US after receiving their higher education in America. Physicians graduating from accredited US residency programs should also receive similar treatment. Such a proposal would enable more physicians to be eligible for Green Cards and address the ongoing physician shortage," AAPI argued. These physicians would still be required to meet all US licensing standards before they could officially practice medicine.
Among other things, AAPI also urged Congressmen to make permanent the J-1 visa waiver programme; which attracts a large number of Indian-American doctors to serve in the rural areas of the country. Besides Congressman Crowley, among others who addressed the AAPI members were Congressmen Phil Gingrey, Jim McDermott, Frank Pallone, Phil Roe, and Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren.