Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Travel ban exacerbates rural doctor shortages, even in New Jersey

Like many states, New Jersey's rural and underserved areas are facing doctor shortages, largely because few want to practice in rural areas and President Trump's travel ban is chasing away foreign doctors, Nicole Leonard reports for The Press of Atlantic City. Another problem is the state's high cost of living and lower salary offers for doctors, say experts who estimate that New Jersey will be short about 2,500 physicians in the next few years.

The 2016 New Jersey Survey of Medical Students, published by the New Jersey Council of Teaching Hospitals, found that "45 percent of the state’s medical residents and fellows planned to work in suburban locations, while 27 percent planned to go to inner cities or rural areas," Leonard writes.

There are about 15,000 doctors in the U.S. from the seven countries—Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Yemen—targeted by President Trump's travel ban, Donald G. McNeil Jr. reported in February for The New York Times.

Cumberland County
 (Wikipedia map)
John Slotman, vice president of graduate medical education policy and teaching hospital issues at the New Jersey Hospital Association, said international graduates are more likely to work in rural and underserved areas, such as Cumberland County, which has one of the state's worst doctor to patient ratios, with 2,099 patients per primary-care doctor, Leonard writes.

Dr. Yaser Mourad, an international graduate from Syria who is now the chief medical quality officer at AtlantiCare, told Leonard, “With all this diversity, it gives us strength, because people bring different things to the table. We came here as immigrants and, while big cities are always attractive, it’s more serene here, and giving back to the country and communities that accepted us is extremely important.”

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