Applications Still Being Accepted for the Conrad State 30 J-1 Visa Waiver Program

The Pennsylvania Department of Health (DOH) has open slots for the Conrad State 30 J-1 Visa Waiver program. Pennsylvania is allotted 30 slots annually. To date, the DOH has filled 17 of those 30 slots.

The deadline for applying for the program’s current annual cycle is Sept. 30.

The U.S. Department of State has established a special visa program called the exchange visitor non-immigrant visa (J-1), for non-citizen International  Medical graduates (IMGs) approved to participate in work and study-based exchange visitor programs, including residency programs.

Normally, the J-1 visa program requires IMGs who have completed their residencies to return to their home countries and practice medicine for two years prior to re-entering the U.S. However, the Conrad State 30 program waives this requirement.

The Conrad State 30 Program requires participating IMGs to agree to practice a minimum of 40 clinical hours in direct patient care per week for three years. Service sites must be located in areas designated as Health Professional Shortage Areas (HPSAs), Medically Underserved Areas (MUAs) or Medically Underserved Populations (MUPs). Sites must also serve patients with Medicare, Medicaid, and those who are uninsured or underinsured. Each state participating in the Conrad State 30 program is limited to 30 waivers per year.

The goals of the program are to:

  • Increase access to health care in underserved communities in Pennsylvania
  • Improve the recruitment and retention of physicians in underserved communities, with priority given to primary care physicians

Get DOH’s fact sheet or visit DOH online learn more about the waiver program.

Visa Waiver Programs Are Just One Way to Address Physician Workforce Shortages

On April 20, 2015, a report on the Pennsylvania physician workforce from the Pennsylvania Joint State Government Commission was released. The report identified a number of causes of the shortage such as aging physicians nearing retirement, longer lifespans, increased health care utilization, and a growing insured population.

Six recommendations were made in the report:

  1. Improve physician workforce data collection and analysis
  2. Establish a state pipeline program to prepare students for medical careers
  3. Encourage medical schools to implement programs aimed at increasing Pennsylvania’s physician supply
  4. Increase the number of residency positions in order to train more physicians in Pennsylvania
  5. Increase financial support for the Primary Health Care Practitioners Program within the Department of Health to make the Primary Care Loan Repayment Program a more appealing recruitment tool
  6. Ensure that Pennsylvania fully utilizes the tools available to recruit IMGs

Learn more Pennsylvania’s physician workforce shortage and ways to address the issue:

  • News release on the physician workforce report
  • Video update on PAMED’s advocacy efforts for medical student loan forgiveness
  • Tools to recruit international medical graduates
  • How Pennsylvania’s Health Care Scholars Academy  is addressing the state’s physician shortage issue