On January 30, 1 week after his inauguration, President Trump issued sweeping Executive Orders which, among other things, blocked the entry of citizens from 7 predominantly Muslim countries for 90 days, barred all refugee entry for 120 days and indefinitely barred refugees from Syria.
The response to this action has been dramatic and plays itself out on our TV screens, on social media and in our everyday conversations. Many medical professional organizations have issued formal statements and as a member of the American Academy of Family Physicians for over 30 years I am especially proud of the AAFP’s response. In his letter to President Trump, AAFP President Dr. John Meigs, Jr. points out that 20% of our 125,000 members and 25% of our FP residents are international medical graduates, that like the rest of the country, we benefit from the talent and energy that these good people bring to our shared work, and that the full engagement of the talents, expertise and diversity of everyone in the healthcare community strengthens all of us and leads to better health outcomes.
The American Academy of Pediatrics issued a statement reaffirming their commitment to protecting the health and well-being of all children regardless of where they or their parents were born, and stated that the Executive Orders “are harmful to immigrant children and families throughout our country. Many of the children who will be affected are the victims of unspeakable violence and trauma. Children do not immigrate, they flee.” And the American College of Physicians issued a statement emphasizing their commitment to non-discrimination and stated that “it is already clear to us that the Executive Order is resulting in discrimination based on religion against physicians and medical students from the designated countries…”.
The Executive Leadership of PCHC strongly and unequivocally affirms PCHC’s commitment to non-discrimination, to the value of each and every one of our employees, and to service to all members of our communities, and we embrace our explicitly stated value of respect, by promoting diversity as a strength, both to PCHC and to our community at large.
- EMHS and St. Joseph Healthcare leadership have issued similar statements for their staffs.
- Graduates of foreign medical schools make up 25% of the US physician workforce.
- Nurses, researchers, technicians and other healthcare workers are also impacted.
- Those who have visas may feel threatened, reluctant to travel or targeted.
- Bangor has physicians from 26 countries providing care for our community, and many are from countries impacted by the immigration ban.
It seems like an appropriate moment to share a blog which I wrote over a year ago, entitled “Pay Back”:
I want to pay back Muslims for what they’ve done. I mean it. Their actions have impacted my life profoundly and I am compelled to act. I cannot stay quiet any longer, or refrain from doing what I must. I need to get even. It’s a long list.
For the Muslims who taught me and helped to mold me as a physician, I will pay you back by being the best mentor and educator that I can be.
For the Muslims who shared in the care of my patients, and helped to improve my skill and knowledge in providing that care, I will pay you back by always trying to improve in my craft, and imparting the same lessons to willing colleagues.
For the Muslims who helped to teach me about their tradition, I will pay you back by helping others understand.
For the Muslims who wrote books that have inspired me and added depth to my thinking, I will pay you back by sharing your ideas and your works.
And for the Muslims who have been my friends, and have shown me their warm, embracing hospitality and unending support and encouragement, you know who you are. I’m coming after you…and I want a hug.