H-1B Visa Recruiting Season Under Way

Alexandra Wilson Pecci, for HealthLeaders Media , May 4, 2011

International medical school graduates can be a boon to rural hospitals that have trouble attracting physicians. But there are a limited number of H-1B visas—visas for people whose jobs require a minimum of a bachelor's degree—issued every year, and there are often aren't enough of them to go around, especially since that limit applies to all industries, not just healthcare.

But this year will likely mark the first time in several years that there will be enough H-1B visas for the entire year. And because the application period began April 1, now is the time for hospitals to be recruiting international medical school graduates.

"This year, my prediction is they will last all year long, so I think it's a great opportunity for employers in the U.S. who want to hire international medical graduates," Los Angeles-based immigration attorney Carl Shusterman said in an interview. "The U.S. has really used these foreign medical graduates as the device for serving people in these [rural] areas where they could not get American doctors to go and serve."

One physician executive who's experienced this first hand is Brian Bossard, MD, FACP, FHM, who is the CEO, founder, and director of Inpatient Physician Associates, LLP, a Lincoln, Nebraska-based hospital medicine group which also has programs serving two very rural areas.

"There was a provider shortage," he said in an interview. "In hospital medicine in particular, there's been a real need for H-1B visas to fill that void."

Bossard says he's hired close to 10 H-1B visa physicians as attending hospital medicine physicians. He says that one of biggest advantages for hiring these physicians is the fact that they're willing to work in rural areas.

"There's a greater willingness for them to reach out to the rural areas and provide care there," Bossard says. "No question, smaller communities around the country have a harder time recruiting U.S. graduate physicians."

That only adds to the rural physician shortage. Citing statistics from Rural Healthy People 2010, the National Rural Health Association says that only about 10% of physicians practice in rural America, despite the fact that these areas are home to nearly 25% of the population.

According to Shusterman, the lowered demand for H-1B visas can be blamed on a soured economy and the fact that companies in other industries, such as technology, aren't hiring as much.

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2 comments on "H-1B Visa Recruiting Season Under Way"

Dave Chapman (5/5/2011 at 5:39 PM)
Here in Silicon Valley, the H1-B visa program is used to import half-priced slave labor and then lay off the American workers. To the degree that the Rural Health Care is perceived as being part of the H1-B immigration scam, then you are handcuffed to a corpse. This program is evil, and the people who lobby for it are liars. If the rural hospitals want to continue to import doctors, then you had better find a different program, because H1-B is going to be killed. -Dave Chapman Palo Alto, CA

jgo (5/4/2011 at 2:10 PM)
The so-called "limits" on numbers of H-1B are infinitely stretchable. Since 2000, the State Dept. reports, they've issued over 110K H-1B visas each year at consular offices. That doesn't count those present in the USA who do a change of status to H-1B. In addition, medical personnel are eligible for J and L visas, to which there is no limit. The exchange visas have been perverted to employ foreign doctors, and, in particular, doctors to work in "under-served areas". Even there, they are most often abused to employ people in city faclities where there are plenty of capable US citizen doctors.




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