February 2, 2017
As a result of the recent Executive Order on immigration, members of the Alliance for Academic Internal Medicine, the largest association of faculty and staff in departments of internal medicine in medical schools and teaching hospitals in the United States, are now acutely faced with consequences that negatively impact what we do daily: care for and care about patients and train physicians who will continue our strong tradition of providing professional, compassionate, and holistic care to all.
Much of medical education entails service learning -- basically on-the-job training. Thus, learners at all levels provide large amounts of patient care; a disproportionate amount of this care in teaching health systems is delivered to the underserved. Since approximately one-half of internal medicine residents are international medical graduates, including a number who are citizens of the countries targeted in the Executive Order, one clear effect will be to compromise patient care in US teaching health systems. Let us be clear that this order translates to potentially preventable suffering and death for patients in affected organizations.
The integrity of educational programs at all levels is threatened by the Executive Order. The opportunity to attract the best and brightest learners from other countries benefits patients in the United States as well as contributes to improvement in the quality of care in other countries when these new physicians return home. Jeopardizing this positive dynamic is most unwise and counterproductive to both American and international educational and medical interests. In addition to providing direct patient care, many individuals hailing from countries targeted by the executive order contribute to our research mission as learners, collaborators, and scientists. The order presents an immense obstruction to research and threatens team-based research efforts.
The young people we nurture to become care-giving professionals are being denied the opportunity to follow their dreams both in the United States and abroad, which is not only distressing but also discriminatory. In the context of a shortage of physicians in the United States, the health of our country depends on the availability of talented trainees from outside our borders. In addition, our ability to collaborate with physicians and scientists around the world to improve the health of our global population will be compromised.
The Alliance for Academic Internal Medicine believes the fundamental values of the United States of America include providing opportunity, celebrating diversity, and believing in the basic goodness of individuals and of the human spirit. Internal medicine is committed to professionalism's expectation of placing service to others above one’s own needs. The Alliance condemns the adverse effects of this Executive Order on our community of internal medicine educators, scientists, and scholars.
Sara B. Fazio, MD, Chair, AAIM Board of Directors | D. Craig Brater, MD, AAIM President
The Alliance for Academic Internal Medicine is the consortium of five academically focused specialty organizations representing department chairs and chiefs; clerkship, residency, and fellowship program directors; division chiefs; and academic and business administrators as well as other faculty and staff in departments of internal medicine and their divisions. at medical schools and teaching hospitals in the United States and Canada. The Alliance empowers academic internal medicine professionals and enhances health care through professional development, research, and advocacy.