Commentary: Georgia Wants Extra Medical doctors, However I Can’t Be Considered one of Them 

After I graduated school, I labored as a medical interpreter at a clinic alongside Atlanta’s Buford Freeway hall. I spent my days talking Spanish with sufferers, practically all of whom got here from low-income communities. Many had hassle understanding their principally white docs as a result of language limitations and cultural variations. Some sufferers even lived in concern of immigration authorities. I recall one household who fearful that searching for therapy for his or her little lady’s third-degree burns would end in a name to ICE.  

I used to be 22 on the time and already keen about drugs. After my time there, I felt reassured that I needed to commit my profession towards therapeutic essentially the most weak Georgians. Solely then did I uncover that my very own immigration standing stood in the best way.   

My mother introduced me to Georgia from Guatemala after I was 6 years previous, escaping an abusive relationship and searching for higher alternatives. Although undocumented, I grew up feeling simply as American as my friends, and I initially hoped to serve within the Navy. I quickly realized that my immigration standing – one thing I had no management over – prohibited me from enlisting or attaining the naval scholarship I had been promised as a high cadet in my area.  

At 18, I used to be overjoyed to obtain work authorization and safety by way of the Deferred Motion for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. On the similar time, nevertheless, I used to be shocked to study that Georgia’s licensure necessities prohibited undocumented people, together with these with DACA, from working towards drugs. I used to be compelled to pursue my medical profession in New York, considered one of roughly 15 different states which have enacted laws to permit DACA recipients to acquire a medical license. That’s an enormous disappointment for me and my undocumented friends who hope to check drugs and supply care to underserved communities in Georgia. However it’s additionally an incredible loss for our state, which desperately wants as many docs as we are able to get.  

Georgia’s healthcare scarcity is effectively documented. Almost each county within the state–156 out of 159 –lacks sufficient well being professionals to fulfill the well being wants of its inhabitants. Particularly, a 3rd of Georgians, or 3.3 million individuals, reside in an space with a scarcity of main care physicians—my supposed specialty.  

Drugs isn’t the one space the place Georgia sees undocumented individuals as a “drawback.” I’ve lengthy confronted limitations to my schooling {and professional} desires. I used to be in my highschool’s gifted program, however my junior yr, I found the College System of Georgia Board of Regents had banned undocumented college students from admission to the state’s public universities. But practically all different states — 47 complete– permit undocumented college students to attend public school. 

I used to be lucky to be accepted into Mary Baldwin College, a personal school in Virginia, on a full tutorial scholarship. My lifelong aspiration to change into a doctor was rooted in my upbringing, however I gained extra consciousness of the necessity for various healthcare professionals by way of my stint as a medical interpreter. My siblings and I grew up by no means visiting a physician as a result of my mom’s deportation fears. I nonetheless keep in mind the anxiousness we felt each time there was an surprising knock on our door. I knew that saying the flawed factor to the flawed particular person may find yourself tearing our household aside. Rising up this manner has given me deep empathy for my sufferers and the hardships they face past their medical diagnoses. I do know all too effectively how troublesome it may be to easily present as much as a physician’s appointment. 

After school, I knew that gaining admission into medical colleges in Georgia could be an uphill battle as most require citizenship. As an alternative, I used to be thrilled to be accepted into medical faculty at SUNY Upstate in Syracuse, New York. Now in my second yr, I nonetheless hope to change into a household drugs physician in a state that permits DACA recipients to apply.

For Georgia, excluding people who’re each certified and desperate to make significant contributions to their communities is a missed alternative.

Katherine Narvaez Mena

For Georgia, excluding people who’re each certified and desperate to make significant contributions to their communities is a missed alternative. With many states going through shortages of healthcare staff, I do know my expertise, schooling, and coaching shall be put to good use elsewhere. Within the meantime, I proceed to hope for change – that in the future I’ll be a full citizen of this nation and in a position to apply drugs again in my house state, treating the Georgians who want me most. It’s time we acknowledge that Dreamers are usually not a political drawback. We’re an answer, and our leaders ought to see us as such.  

Katherine Narvaez Mena is a medical pupil at SUNY Upstate Medical College 


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