Thousands of attendees travel to the ACR/ARHP Annual Meeting from outside the U.S. to learn, network and exchange ideas. From Nov. 3–8 in San Diego, speakers from more than 30 different countries are scheduled to participate.
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The ACR is taking action to maintain diverse attendance in a challenging climate for international travel. New traveler vetting and executive orders under judicial review make travel to the U.S. more complex, says ACR President Sharad Lakhanpal, MBBS, MD, FACP.
Online Resources for International Travelers
On the ACR website, you will find:
- Updated H-1B visa information and international attendee travel resources;
- A meeting invitation letter from the ACR that attendees may download, personalize and print to be used with visa applications; and
- A link to the National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine online visa questionnaire. Any attendee experiencing significant visa delays may complete the questionnaire and list “2017 American College of Rheumatology Annual Meeting” under “purpose of visit.” The ACR is a member of the National Academies.
The ACR is doing everything it can to alleviate travel snags for international physicians who wish to attend the Annual Meeting, says Dr. Lakhanpal.
“The world has become very small due to advances in technology and transportation. It is very important for rheumatologists to come together and learn from each other, so we can provide better care for our patients around the world, and learn what others are doing,” Dr. Lakhanpal says. “The ACR/ARHP Annual Meeting is the largest and most well attended of all rheumatology meetings in the world. It’s like a mini U.N. of rheumatology. The personal connections we make at the meeting cannot be duplicated with technology.”
Advocacy as Support
Advocacy is another channel for the ACR to support rheumatologists and fellows from outside the U.S. who wish to travel or work here, says Dr. Lakhanpal. On May 18, the ACR sent a letter to the U.S. State Department regarding visa applications and collection of information from applicants, a program now under review by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). In the letter, the ACR requests exemptions for physicians and scientists traveling to the U.S. for professional meetings and research. ACR leaders also recently met with more than 100 lawmakers to urge support for the Conrad State 30 & Physician Access Act, which would allow U.S.-trained international doctors to remain here if they practice in underserved areas. The ACR also introduced resolution language, which was subsequently passed, at the recent AMA House of Delegates Annual Meeting, directing the AMA to work to ensure physicians can efficiently utilize H-1B visas, helping shore up the rheumatology workforce in rural and underserved areas.