GREENVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) – A new study produced by Harvard and MIT students is shedding light on how healthcare could be impacted by President Donald Trump’s travel ban.
The ban in part blocks some people from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen for 90 days.
The study, entitled “Immigrant Doctors Project”, looked at how many doctors or physicians currently practicing in the United States come from the banned countries.
Utilizing a social networking site for doctors called Doximity, researchers found at least 7,000 doctors currently practice in America from the banned countries, accounting for 14 million patient appointments each year.
North Carolina as a whole doesn’t have a high percentage of doctors from banned countries, as represented by the lighter colors on the map. However, that changes when you look at the eastern part of the state.
“The Goldsboro, Greenville and Washington areas are where there’s sort of more of a concentration,” said Otis Reid, one of the students involved in the study.
In each of those regions, researchers found there were around 10 doctors from the banned countries, accounting for 20,000 patient appointments each year.
The need for more physicians in the East has been well documented. Those in the medical field said the idea of losing any doctors, especially in rural areas, could be devastating.
Dr. Herb Garrison, Associate Dean of Graduate Medical Education at the Brody School of Medicine, said rural counties in the East could be especially impacted by the ban.
“The more rural you go the more likely that there’s going to be physicians from those banned countries or other international countries,” Garrison said.
Students hoping to travel to America and study medicine do so using what’s called a J1 visa. Following their education, those visa holders are required to return back to their country.
However, there is an exception called a Conrad waiver. That allows the visa holder to stay if they practice in areas currently undeserved by doctors.
Nationwide, doctors from the six banned countries accounted for 2.3 million patient appointments in rural areas.
“Losing access to someone who you trust to tell you what you should do when you’re scared or embarrassed about a problem, I think that’s a huge cost,” Reid said.
To read more about the study, and see an interactive map, click here.