Story by Felicia Martinez, Weekend Anchor/Reporter - bio | email
Imperial Valley, CA - A limited amount of doctors has become a concern in many rural areas especially Imperial County.
Dr. Ramona Krutzik, a Specialist in Endocrinology in the valley says "We have a shortage of Primary care doctors but we also have a shortage of specialists."
Dr. Krutzik says having only one doctor for a certain specialty isn't enough, and that's where the problem stems from in the Imperial Valley. So, in an effort to change that, the Imperial County Medical Society is trying to adjust the J-1 Visa Waiver Program. A program Dr. Krutzik says allows foreign doctors to practice in the U.S.
She tells News 13, "There are 30 allotted spots per state for J-1 Visa Waivers regardless of that states population. So, California has 30 spots, Maine has 30 spots Rhode Island has 30 spots, Arizona has 30. So, you can see the beginning of the problems there is that regardless of the need of the state, the spots are the same."
According to Dr. Krutzik she says this causes a problem because some states don't use all or any of their spots and some states like California could use more. Another problem with the program, J-1 visa physicians can only practice primary care and not specialty. Dr. Krutzik says "What we're asking for in this resolution that was just presented to the California Medical Association, by myself two weeks ago, was that we allow theses physicians to practice their specialty so that areas who are in need of specialists can get specialists."
Dr. Krutzik says the resolution also asks for the number of spots be increased for the golden state to meet the needs of the growing population. She says, the resolution stated that we would get preferred treatment to the rural area. So, if a physician came and said I want a J-1 Visa Waiver I'm going to a rural area, then that doctor will get the waiver over a doctor that says he wants to go to a more populated area."
The resolution for change has been taken to the delegates in Anaheim where they received their support and will be taken to the federal level to await final approval.
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