As the physician shortage worsens, hospitals and health systems face unprecedented challenges to recruit and retain physician talent. Recruiting foreign nationals should be part of a comprehensive strategy to build and maintain a qualified, diversified, and engaged physician workforce. Lack of familiarity with immigration law and procedures should not deter employers from tapping into the skills of international medical graduates (IMGs), provided organizations exercise planned cautiousness in navigating the complexities of immigration law and its interdependence with labor and employment laws at the state and federal level. Taking into account the following key issues and best practices is paramount for health care executives.
- The American Association of Medical Colleges predicts that the effects of the physician shortage will be most acute in surgical specialties and rural areas. There are currently more than 6,000 primary care Health Professional Shortage Areas (HPSAs) and 4,000 mental health HPSAs. IMGs, who already represent more than 20% of first year residents and nearly 25% of practicing physicians, are more valuable than ever in the midst of this worsening physician shortage because they are more likely to pursue a career in primary care services and seek work in rural areas than their American-borne counterparts.