What do immigrant doctors bring to America?
14 million doctors' appointments are provided each year by physicians from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen — the six countries targeted by the recent Executive Order. They are spread out across America, providing vital services throughout the Rust Belt and Appalachia, especially in Ohio, Michigan, West Virginia, Indiana and Kentucky.
I am so lucky to have my Iranian optometrist. She is knowledgeable, precise and thorough in routine treatments and in handling problems. But she is far more than that: she successfully weaves the goals of impeccable professional standards with a warm and caring attitude and touch. Her care is wonderful. She is from Iran, and she is here in the USA providing treatment of eyes and vision which is so important. While she is unique, she is only one of many individuals from countries with banned entries whose skills, education and talents we all need for our health, well being and more.
In pain from a severe gall bladder attack, I went to the emergency room. Two doctors from the gastroenterology department administered an endoscopic procedure to relieve bile duct blockage. They were not only capable and efficient, but also cheerful, friendly and reassuring. Both were from Pakistan. Some months later, another Pakistani gastroenterologist conducted my colonoscopy—not a delightful procedure, but his positive, pleasant attitude, his careful instructions and thorough communication made the experience so much better than I had feared it could be. These immigrant doctors were highly competent in the technical aspects of their work, and also personable and humane. I would hate to think of others being deprived of excellent, compassionate care due to draconian immigration policies.
During this period of time we cannot see our family back home or have them visit because a visa is very difficult to get. Several of my friends had their parent's funeral back home and they could not attend. And worse, those who had loved ones sick for a month until they died, and they were not able to go visit because if they cannot come back they risk losing everything they worked for a decade to achieve. All of us are legal, we pay taxes, we are hard workers. We are the top notch people from our countries and a huge asset to the U.S. whether we stay for just a few years or we spend the rest of our lives here. There should be a clear distinction between physicians and terrorists. Moreover, a clear distinction between Muslims and terrorists.
My husband started having "episodes", which were deemed to be seizures. We were referred to the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, which led to an Iranian doctor who specialized in the specific type of surgery my husband required. The empathy and care were above and beyond with this wonderful surgeon. Months of appointments in this large facility over two hours from home could have been a nightmare, but the surgeon would stop and check in, give encouragement and a pat on the back. My husband made it through his surgery through the talents of this surgeon who spends parts of his year in Iran, his home country, providing medical services. My husband was up and walking six hours after surgery, and besides a scar, medications, and memories…our life is intact because of access to this immigrant doctor.
I work for one of the major hospitals in Boston. Not only are we in charge of the day-to-day health of patients, we do essential research for the growth of future medicine. The day after the first travel ban was first put into effect, we got an email letting us know two researchers for the hospital were denied entry to the country. The travel ban will impact the future of medicine. Not only are these doctors trying to advance treatments, they are also college professors.
My third son was born premature and placed on breathing tubes in a neonatal Intensive Care Unit for weeks. For years he was expertly cared for by a pediatric pulmonary specialist from Iran. We feared our son would suffer lifelong pulmonary complications. Thanks to his expert care he is now an elite athlete at age 11 playing on a select regional soccer team. He had outstanding endurance and fully restored pulmonary functions that allow him to compete in different sports at the highest levels. This doctor has a rare set of skills even in a region blessed with many doctors and hospitals.
There are more than 7,000 doctors from the six targeted countries working in America.
94% of Americans live in a community with at least one doctor from an affected country.
These doctors provide their services to millions of Americans, offering:
The five cities with the highest share of doctors from targeted countries are:
In many of the places where these doctors work, longtime residents have seen jobs leave and life get harder. Their hospitals are often faced with a shortage of medical residents and doctors, and rely on immigrants to fill critical vacancies.
Doctors from the six affected countries provide 2.3 million appointments each year in areas with doctor shortages.
Patients across America are relying on their doctors from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen. These professionals provide critical services to Americans by helping them bring their pregnancies to term, managing their diabetes, or performing the surgeries they need.
Limiting visas for citizens of these countries makes it harder for these doctors to live and work in the United States. No one should have to choose between seeing their family and the place they've made home.
The ban also shuts out the next generation of doctors who want to come and serve communities in America.
Want to do something about it?
We can help you call your representatives in Congress, and tell them how many times each year the residents in your district see doctors from the six targeted countries.
Are you a doctor or a patient who has been personally affected by the executive orders banning immigration from these six countries? If you'd like to tell us your story, we'd love to hear it.