Loyola Accepts DREAMers | News | Loyola Medicine
Friday, December 5, 2014

Loyola medical school leaders state reasons to accept applications from undocumented immigrants

MAYWOOD, Il. – Medical schools have an ethical obligation to change admission policies in order to accept applications from undocumented immigrants known as DREAMers, according to a perspective article in the December 2014 issue of the journal Academic Medicine.

Not allowing DREAMers to apply to medical school “represents a kind of unjustified discrimination and violates the basic ethical principle of the equality of human beings,” write co-authors Mark G. Kuczewski, PhD and Linda Brubaker, MD, MS of Loyola University Chicago Stritch of Medicine. Academic Medicine is the journal of the Association of American Medical Colleges.

In 2012, Loyola became the first medical school in the United States to amend its admissions policies to include qualified students who have received Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) status and are legally recognized as U.S. residents. In August, 2014, Loyola welcomed seven DREAMers to the class of 2018.

The students are known as DREAMers after a proposed federal law called the DREAM Act (Development, Relief and Education of Alien Minors). Although the DREAM Act has yet to become law, the DACA program makes medical training, licensure and medical practice feasible, Drs. Kuczewski and Brubaker write.

The authors write that three main ethical principles and policy considerations support Dreamers’ eligibility:

“First, a belief in equality, perhaps the fundamental value in contemporary democratic society, means that these potential applicants must be considered – just like others – on their merits. Second, the medical profession’s duty of beneficence, the obligation to help patients, means that medical schools cannot turn away a significant pool of diverse talent in developing the physician workforce. Third, and related to beneficence, the value of social justice requires that medical schools seek to produce a physician workforce that better serves those communities that have been traditionally underserved, such as ethnic minorities and recent immigrants.”

Social justice means enabling the participation of all – DREAMers, recent immigrants, minorities, U.S. citizens – in the life and opportunities of the community to the extent possible. “Enabling qualified DREAMers to become physicians is therefore an ethical obligation of the medical education community.”

To be eligible for DACA status, an applicant must have arrived in the United States before age 16;  have resided continuously in the U.S. for at least five years; be currently enrolled in school, have completed high school or earned a GED; have no serious criminal involvement; and be able to prove he or she was in the U.S. on June 15, 2012.

‘Time to make the dream a reality’

The DACA program was created by the Obama Administration and is subject to change by a future president, Drs. Kuczewski and Brubaker write. “Our duty to serve the communities our institutions serve requires that we steward the resources available including the talent of DREAMers. It is time to make the dream a reality.”

Dr. Kuczewski is the Fr. Michael I. English Professor of Medical Ethics, director of the Neiswanger Institute for Bioethics and Health Policy and chair of the Department of Medical Education of Loyola’s Stritch School of Medicine.

Dr. Brubaker is dean and chief diversity officer and professor in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology of Loyola’s Stritch School of Medicine.

Their article is titled “Medical Education for ‘Dreamers’: Barriers and Opportunities for Undocumented Immigrants.”

About Loyola Medicine and Trinity Health

Loyola Medicine, a member of Trinity Health, is a quaternary care system based in the western suburbs of Chicago that includes Loyola University Medical Center (LUMC), Gottlieb Memorial Hospital, MacNeal Hospital and convenient locations offering primary and specialty care services from 1,877 physicians throughout Cook, Will and DuPage counties. LUMC is a 547-licensed-bed hospital in Maywood that includes the William G. and Mary A. Ryan Center for Heart & Vascular Medicine, the Cardinal Bernardin Cancer Center, a Level 1 trauma center, Illinois's largest burn center, a certified comprehensive stroke center and a children’s hospital. Having delivered compassionate care for over 50 years, Loyola also trains the next generation of caregivers through its teaching affiliation with Loyola University Chicago’s Stritch School of Medicine and Marcella Niehoff School of Nursing. Gottlieb is a 247-licensed-bed community hospital in Melrose Park with 150 physician offices, an adult day care program, the Gottlieb Center for Fitness, the Loyola Center for Metabolic Surgery and Bariatric Care and the Loyola Cancer Care & Research at the Marjorie G. Weinberg Cancer Center at Melrose Park. MacNeal Hospital is a 374-bed teaching hospital in Berwyn with advanced inpatient and outpatient medical, surgical and psychiatric services, advanced diagnostics and treatments. MacNeal has a 12-bed acute rehabilitation unit, a 25-bed inpatient skilled nursing facility, and a 68-bed behavioral health program and community clinics. MacNeal has provided quality, patient-centered care to the near west suburbs since 1919.

Trinity Health is one of the largest multi-institutional Catholic healthcare systems in the nation, serving diverse communities that include more than 30 million people across 22 states. Trinity Health includes 92 hospitals, as well as 109 continuing care locations that include PACE programs, senior living facilities and home care and hospice services. Its continuing care programs provide nearly 2.5 million visits annually. Based in Livonia, Mich., and with annual operating revenues of $18.3 billion and assets of $26.2 billion, the organization returns $1.1 billion to its communities annually in the form of charity care and other community benefit programs. Trinity employs about 129,000 colleagues, including 7,800 employed physicians and clinicians. Committed to those who are poor and underserved in its communities, Trinity is known for its focus on the country's aging population. As a single, unified ministry, the organization is the innovator of Senior Emergency Departments, the largest not-for-profit provider of home health care services—ranked by number of visits—in the nation, as well as the nation’s leading provider of PACE (Program of All Inclusive Care for the Elderly) based on the number of available programs.