What do U.S. immigration policies mean for the healthcare workforce?
At Providence St. Joseph Health, eight staffers have been forced to take a leave of absence because they lost their ability to work in the U.S. under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. And nearly 300 of the system's 110,000 employees are either nationals or dual-nationals from the seven countries targeted in President Donald Trump's travel ban."Even though that's a small number, it's pretty palpable that people who have been great employees are no longer working," said Dr. Rod Hochman, the system's CEO. "That's very problematic for us." Trump's various executive orders to implement the travel ban have been blocked in court several times, but the administration still believes it will prevail in banning travel from Iran, Libya, North Korea, Somalia, Syria, Venezuela and Yemen. The U.S. Supreme Court is currently deciding the fate of challenges to the executive order and is expected to rule in the coming weeks. Observers expect the high court's ruling to fall along party lines and ultimately uphold the travel ban. "Overall, I would say it's just cast a sense of doom over folks in terms of the way they want to interact and think about their work and their research," Hochman said. Some healthcare industry stakeholders also believe it's had a chilling effect on the number of international medical graduates applying to enter physician residency programs. Last year, the number of international medical graduates who applied to be matched into a residency program dropped 3% to 7,067 students. That number has fluctuated in the past, but the timing of the most recent decline raises eyebrows, especially since it comes after the proposed travel ban and several other policy changes. They include ending DACA, a program that gave immigrants a chance to live and work in the U.S. without threat of deportation if they were brought here illegally by their parents as children.
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