Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine is the first medical school in the nation to announce that it is accepting applications for admission from undocumented immigrants in response to President Barack Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.
“As a medical school built on Catholic and Jesuit values we have a tradition of reaching out and encouraging the growth and development of future doctors from all walks of life,” says Linda Brubaker, MD, dean and chief diversity officer of Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine.
The DREAM Act enables qualified undocumented immigrants to receive a two-year, renewable authorization to remain and work in the United States. Criteria to obtain DACA status include arrival in the U.S. before age 16, current age under 31, specified levels of education or military service, and an absence of felony conviction or problematic record of misdemeanors.
The decision to consider applications is a conscious step to help fill a void in the medical community. The United States is facing a significant shortage of physicians. In addition, large portions of the population are underserved by current distribution and demographic profiles of physicians.
“DREAMers represent a previously untapped source of qualified and diverse talent that will enrich the medical education environment, the medical profession, and lives of patients,” Brubaker says.
Mark Kuczewski, PhD, director of Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine’s Neiswanger Institute for Bioethics and Public Health, also believes this is a beginning step in meeting a major public health disparity–access to care.
“We believe these students will help broaden the diversity of the physician workforce. This will benefit not only the many patients who one day these physicians will serve, but also our entire student body. This will help all our students better understand the variety of cultures and people they will be treating,” Kuczewski says.
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