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AUA Students go to Capitol Hill

On August 6, 2009, seventeen AUA clinical students from Baltimore, MD teamed with two AUA administrators and traveled to Washington, D.C. for an intensive round of meetings with the staff of 26 members of the United States Senate and House of Representatives to push for provisions that would benefit international medical students and graduates in the pending bills for national health care and federal aid for students. AUA students and administrators stressed the unfair disparity between financial aid for United States citizens who graduate from international medical schools and those who graduate from schools in the United States.

As those in Congress who met with AUA students and administrators learned, the need to make financial aid available to students attending international medical schools as readily available as it is for students at U.S. schools is of the utmost importance for the future of health care in the United States. It is graduates of international medical schools who must be counted on to alleviate the vast shortages of medical professionals and, more importantly, of primary care physicians, in the U.S. The American Medical Association has estimated that the shortages of primary care physicians in the U.S. will continue to grow exponentially over the next several years. At the same time, significantly greater numbers of international medical school graduates enter the field of primary care than do graduates of United States medical schools. AUA students also pointed out that, because every proposed national health care plan relies heavily on the availability of primary care physicians, no health care plan is likely to succeed unless the federal government makes it more financially feasible for students to attend international medical schools so that they can become licensed doctors in the United States. The majority of the Congressional offices expressed support for the provisions that AUA students and administrators advocated. They acknowledged that the issues that AUA students and administrators addressed were matters of great national concern.

AUA plans to conduct follow-up discussions with the Congressmen with whom AUA students met and will continue to work together with its students to encourage the government to act on these important issues. However, AUA needs the support of all of its students, their families and friends, and all who are concerned for the future of health care in this country in its continued efforts to make sure that international medical students are provided the same opportunities, financial, and otherwise, that U.S. students and graduates enjoy. AUA is very cognizant of the role that it can play in solving the national health care problems as well as the challenging financial aid situation that its students must face. It is exploring every possible avenue open to it in its continuing effort to provide its students with the means to complete their education and to become skilled, knowledgeable, and compassionate physicians.

Do not hesitate to write a letter or to email your representatives imploring them to fight for these issues; or, you can contact AUA directly if you wish to join the cause.

We look forward to your help and assistance.