How Trump’s Travel Ban Could Affect The Physician Shortage

Doctor Shortage Could Intensify With Travel Ban

AS TRAVEL BAN LOOMS, HOW A BAN WOULD AFFECT SHORTAGE OF DOCTORS

Foreign Doctors are Combating Doctor Shortage, But What Happens If There’s a Travel Ban?

In 2016, a report cited by Forbes stated that roughly 25% of all doctors practicing in the United States were not born in the US.  Roughly a quarter of all physicians are foreign.  Additionally, this same report found that 16% of all other medical professionals, be it nurses or physician assistants, were immigrants.  For many Americans, the idea of skilled workers flooding into their country is terrifying.  That’s understandable, however, doctor and nurse immigration is one form of immigration that is nearly essential.

A report gathered by IHS and completed by The Association of American Medical Colleges found that by 2025 if the current trends continue, the United States will face a shortage of 46,100 to 90,400 physicians.  As baby-boomers get older and live longer, more doctors and nurses will be required to care for the next wave of seniors.  However, even with doctors, nurses, and other medical professionals rolling off the US college assembly line, there will still be a shortage.

The US could be short 40,100 to 90,600 doctors by 2025

This shortage will greatly impact poorer at-risk regions of the United States.  These regions are called underserved areas and include swaths of the US from Alaska to Maine.  Underserved regions don’t have to be poor, they can just be undesirable in the eyes of recent medical school graduates.  Though the cost of living and job opportunities is running thin in cities like New York, Los Angeles, and Washington DC, US-born medical school graduates prefer these areas.  This leaves cities like Knoxville, TN, Lincoln, NE, and Tucson, AZ underserved.

This is where foreign doctors, nurses, and other medical professionals come into play.  Foreign medical professionals must apply for visas to stay in the United States.  Once visas are up, they typically can’t be renewed.  There are still a few ways in which doctors and nurses on visas can stay within the United States.  These medical professionals from abroad can practice in underserved communities to extend their stay in the US and even apply for citizenship.  Of course, it’s not that clear-cut.  Still, this is the main path foreign doctors and nurses will take.  Immigrant doctors and nurses apply for a visa, study or practice, relocation to an underserved area, and finally possibly a work visa or green card.

This has been the process for the last few decades.  Unfortunately for perspective foreign medical professionals and patients in underserved areas, things might get much worse.  If you’ll recall, President Donald Trump signed two executive orders during the first three months of his presidency that banned travel from certain countries throughout the Middle East and Africa.  Those on the left rushed to call the bans a “Muslim Ban” while those on the right applauded the President’s actions for wanting to keep Americans safe.  There’s a little truth in both statements.  Regardless, the travel bans had a few unexpected consequences.  One consequence that the bans had were that they stranded doctors who had been practicing in the US, abroad.  Doctors from Iran were affected the most.  They shared their stories online and on social media.  Ultimately, the travel bans were overturned for being unconstitutional and foreign doctors affected by the travel bans were able to return to the United States.

The Travel Ban is headed to the Supreme Court
The Travel Ban is headed to the Supreme Court

Now, the travel ban is headed to the Supreme Court where justices will debate the order’s legality.  If the Supreme Court justices find that it doesn’t violate the constitution or any previous legislation, it will be signed into law.  Thus, the issue of foreign doctors being able to practice in the US becomes an issue, again.  Regardless if the travel ban passes, there’s still the possibility of future legislation that restricts immigration to the United States.  The restriction of immigration to the United States could potentially have drastic consequences on the shortage of medical professionals.

The 5 Best Cities to Practice In

5 Fantastic Cities to Practice

As you decide where you’ll spend the next few years, you’ve asked yourself this question multiple times.  Where’s the best place to practice?  As a physician, there’s a variety of factors that come into play when you consider where the best city to live and work is.  Initially, you might think the best place to live in San Francisco, Dallas, Chicago, or New York.  You’d be correct in thinking that.  All four cities boast a large population, urban centers, vibrant nightlife, and all the other stuff people look for in a new city.  However, keep in mind that all of those positive traits in those cities are actually bad for physicians.  All four cities boast high rent, a surplus of physicians and healthcare professionals, and a high cost of living.  Using various sources, all utilizing the same benchmarks, I’ve gathered a list of 5 cities physicians and other healthcare professionals need to consider when deciding where to practice.

5: Denver, Colorado

Denver, Colorado features all of the amenities of big cities like San Jose or New York but with less of a financial burden.  Denver is still an up and coming city with multiple neighborhoods boasting affordable living options from single-family homes to lofts.  The city also allows you to have access to Colorado’s beautiful parks and natural landmarks.  From skiing to hiking, Colorado is one of the Nation’s premier recreation spots.  Additionally, a recent influx in population has lead to a demand for physicians and other medical professionals.  With an overall low cost of living, big city amenities, and higher than average demand for physicians, be sure to give the Mile High City a chance.

Denver, CO (Image: Denver.org)

4: Austin, Texas

The cost of living in this hip city is continuing to rise.  However, you can still manage to find affordable space in some neighborhoods.  Austin is one of America’s hippest and most up-and-coming cities.  With a vibrant music scene, cultural sites, and fantastic food, Austin is sure to please the younger crowd of physicians and medical professionals.  Just like Denver, an influx of college educated residents has propelled the demand for physicians.  There’s also a variety of research opportunities at the cities various schools.  Be sure to check out Austin before the rent gets too high!

Austin, TN (Image: CHCP.edu)

3: Oxford, Mississippi

Mississippi might not be known for its renowned healthcare, however, there’s one city in this southern state that is attractive to physicians and other medical professionals.  Somewhat of an underserved area yet growing at quick pace, Oxford, Mississippi boasts a very low cost of living with some urban amenities.  Combined with a demand for physicians and research opportunities at The University of Mississippi, medical professionals that don’t care much for urban living are ideal for this up and coming southern city.

Oxford, MS (Image: PracticeMatch)

2: Murfreesboro, Tennessee

Murfreesboro is growing at a tremendous rate.  The population of Murfreesboro has more than doubled since the 1990s.  This increase in population has fueled demand for physicians and other medical professionals.  However, Murfreesboro itself boasts little in the way of amenities, the city is located just 35 miles south of Nashville.  Tennessee is also physician friendly with low tax rates and small malpractice payouts.  Given the cities close proximity to Nashville, an increased demand for physicians, and a very low cost of living, Murfreesboro needs to be on every doctor’s list when considering where to practice.

Murfreesboro, TN (Image: Wikipedia)

1: Boise, Idaho

Boise and the state of Idaho are consistently featured as the best places for medical professionals.  Idaho has seen an influx in population increasing the demand for doctors and nurses.  The state also has a very low rate of disciplinary actions against physicians.  Not only is the city ideal for medical professionals but so is the climate.  With moderate summers and somewhat chilly winters, the weather is fairly consistent and predictable.  It’s also kid friendly according to Forbes.  Combined all of those factors with a low cost of living and you’ve got a winner!

Boise, ID (Image: PracticeMatch)

 

Special thanks to the sites that guided me in my research; PracticeMatch, Medscape.

 

9 Apps for Physicians to Make 14-Hour Shifts Less Awful

Appointments, procedures, phone calls, emails, and emergencies are all in a day’s work for the average physician.  With daunting workloads and never ending tasks, physicians are constantly prioritizing their appointments and meetings.  Obviously, in medicine, some things are a little more important than others.  Tedious tasks and busy work that a physician might find distracting from their top priorities and patient care are often assigned to assistants.  For those tasks, I’ve come across 9 must have apps for physicians and their assistants.

9 Apps for Physicians and Assistants

#1 MedScape

Created by WebMD, one of the most trusted sources for medical information, MedScape is somewhat of an extension from the standard WebMD designed for physicians and healthcare professionals.  MedScape provides information ranging from procedural tutorials, medical calculator, prescription information, continuing medical education (CME) through the apps education tool.

MedScape for Doctors and Healthcare Professionals
MedScape for Doctors and Healthcare Professionals (Image: MedScape)

#2 Isabel

Isabel is a diagnostics and reference app.  The app allows physicians to select and enter parameters for their patients.  Physicians will then receive diagnostic suggestions based on age, gender, travel history, and symptoms.  Backed by peer-reviewed medical journals, Isabel’s information provides physicians with thousands of possible combinations.  The app is an ideal way to double-check uncertain diagnostics or to come up with solutions when they have none.

Isabel Diagnosis App for Doctors (Image: Isabel)
Isabel Diagnosis App for Doctors (Image: Isabel)

#3 Epocrates Plus

Providing peer-reviewed disease information, listings for alternative medicine, infectious disease treatments, ICD-10/CPT codes, and diagnostic graphs.  Upgrading to the plus version allows users to access all the features of the regular application as well as: pill identification, clinical practice guidelines, a formulary, drug interaction checker, and athenaText built in.  Epocrates is the most trusted medical reference database among physicians in the United States.

Epocrates App for Doctors (Image: Epocrates)
Epocrates App for Doctors (Image: Epocrates)

#4 PracticeMatch Physician Job Search

PracticeMatch is a job search app designed specifically for physicians and advanced practitioners (likes Nurse Practitioners and Physicians Assistants) in mind. It’s an ad-free way to search for new job opportunities and syncs between phone app and your online profile so you can easily keep track of positions you want to apply to.

PracticeMatch Doctor Jobs (Image: PracticeMatch)
PracticeMatch Doctor Jobs (Image: PracticeMatch)

#5 Read

An application by QxMD, Read provides research and topic reviews in an interface similar to an RSS reader for doctors that want to stay updated on industry news and topics of interest. It also grants access to PubMed, a compilation of medical journals, e-books, and diverse literature with millions of citations backed by Medline, one of the largest manufacturers of medical supplies in the world.

#6 Calculate

Calculate is another app from QxMD.  Calculate is geared toward physicians who must make decisions about doses and treatments based on numerical values.  Calculate is particularly helpful for medical practitioners like cardiologists and oncologists.

Calculate App for Doctors (Image: Calculate App)
Calculate App for Doctors (Image: Calculate App)

The Top Apps for Physicians

#7 UpToDate

Much like Epocrates Plus, UpToDate is another medical reference tool.  However, UpToDate features a more expansive reference database.  Information is constantly updated by healthcare professionals and patient education systems and includes medical calculators, drug interaction data, and medical articles.

Up To Date App Interface (Image: Up To Date)
Up To Date App Interface (Image: Up To Date)

#8 Doximity

Like a Facebook Messenger app suite for physicians, Doximity is a tool that enables physicians to send text messages, pass faxes, and emails in a secure and confidential environment.  More than just a means to keep patient information private, Doximity is HIPAA compliant, meaning you can pass along confidential transmissions without concerns over future audits.

Doximity App (Image: Doxmity)
Doximity App (Image: Doxmity)

#9 Virtual Practice for Doctors

Virtual Practice for Doctors is a unique communications app that allows physicians to engage and manage patients in various ways through a secure web portal. It includes remote monitoring, access to patient records, appointment management, patient notifications, and teleconferencing/videoconferencing capabilities.

Virtual Practice App for Doctors (Image: Virtual Practice Application)
Virtual Practice App for Doctors (Image: Virtual Practice Application)

Like all walks of modern life, mobile applications are reshaping the way we function, allowing professionals to perform tasks more efficiently and with greater accuracy. This is especially important for those responsible for taking care of our sick and wounded.