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Stefanik leads effort to expand recruitment of doctors in region

Posted 8/31/22

Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-21, Schuylerville, announced the Northern Border Regional Commission will begin implementing a J-1 visa program.

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Stefanik leads effort to expand recruitment of doctors in region

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WASHINGTON, D.C. — Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-21, Schuylerville, announced on Tuesday that the Northern Border Regional Commission will begin implementing a J-1 visa program to expand opportunity to recruit doctors to a multi-county region in the midst of a physician staffing shortage.

The region includes Herkimer, Oneida, Jefferson, St. Lawrence, Franklin, Clinton, Essex, Hamilton, Fulton, Warren, Saratoga, Washington, Montgomery, Rensselaer, and Oswego counties.

In July, Stefanik requested the NBRC implement a J-1 visa waiver program for fiscal year 2023 that would allow non-domestic physicians trained in the U.S. to work in health professional shortage areas or medically underserved areas within the NBRC’s area of jurisdiction.

“I am proud to announce that, following my advocacy, we are taking a huge step forward in addressing the rural doctor shortage,” Stefanik said. “Our rural communities face enough unique challenges, and giving our North Country families and seniors peace of mind that they can access the healthcare they need is incredibly important to me. Through the implementation of this program, more healthcare professionals will be able to work in medically underserved areas in New York’s 21st District, which is a critical result that will meet the needs of our communities.”

NBRC replied to Stefanik’s July request by writing in part, “Thank you for your recent letter encouraging the Northern Border Regional Commission (NBRC) to explore the creation of a J-1 visa waiver program as a means to addressing a shortage of qualified physicians in our territory. ... As you note in your letter, many of our communities have struggled to attract and retain physicians and nurses which has led to a reduction or loss of health care access in some areas. If unaddressed, the health care shortages of our region threaten the well-being of residents and the vibrancy of our communities. …We are pleased to report to you and your colleagues that the Commission will hire a health care program specialist that will be responsible for this work in FY’23. Our expectation is that among the duties of this new position will be responsibility for forming workforce development partnerships with local and statewide institutions to address shortages across a variety of key healthcare roles and carrying out the steps needed for the Commission to formally stand-up a J-1 visa program.”

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