AMA decries change to international student regulation

The organization says the move could jeopardize the status of current medical students.

The American Medical Association (AMA) is urging the Trump administration to rethink a recent regulation placed on international students which the organization says could jeopardize the status of those studying medicine in the U.S.

As the New York Times reports, Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have already filed lawsuits seeking to blockthe regulation which would force foreign students to return to their home country if they only take online classes in the fall, a move that many schools are adopting due to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.

In a July 9 letter to Chad F. Wolf, acting secretary of Homeland Security, and Matthew T. Albence, acting director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the AMA urged the administration to withdraw the regulation saying that the pandemic has created an even greater need for physicians across the country.

“At a time when physicians are needed in the U.S. more than ever, it is unwise to deter medical professionals from coming to the U.S. now and potentially in the future. Moreover, this modification will likely cause medical students to attend school in other countries leading ... to a brain drain as other countries obtain and likely retain the brightest young medical minds from across the world,” the letter says.

Hundreds of international medical students who would be forced out of the country under the new regulation should be allowed to stay in the country if their institution moves instruction online due to the pandemic, according to the letter.

“To ask these students to transfer to a new school or program weeks before the beginning of the term is not a viable solution and is completely unfair to students that have worked for years of their lives to be able to go to medical school,” the letter says.