I am one of the thousands of American doctors who is unemployed.
As a first-generation immigrant who survived the Gulf War in 1991, I lived through the prosecution of Saddam’s regime and escaped the second war in 1998. My family and I immigrated from one country to the next. Eventually, we ended up living in a refugee camp in North Africa, waiting for salvation, not knowing where we would end up next. After three years of waiting and following every legal channel, we were finally granted resettlement to the United States.
The U.S. was the only country that offered me the right to be acknowledged as a sovereign individual and citizen. Hearing the success stories of many other immigrants, I was restless to be part of the American dream. I wanted to give back to my community, state and country. I was more than eager to start my journey. I started my five-year journey, between working different jobs and spending hundreds of hours in libraries, sleeping in my car, building up my resume and finishing my medical boards – all of this to be able to apply for residency training. But the reality was that I wasn’t able to work as a medical doctor in the country that welcomed me.
I blamed myself until I started doing some research. I went through the National Residency Matching Program (NRMP) statistics, and to my astonishment, I discovered I wasn’t alone. There are thousands of American doctors suffering the same fate.
Encountering persecution and living in refugee camps taught me to be grateful for what I have, to work hard and to not to be afraid of censorship. But the policies and the large numbers of applicants for residency versus the actual number of residency slots have pushed me to be an advocate for the large number of unmatched MDs. This situation requires immediate surgical intervention!