The Washington State Department of Health reports that they have filled the 10 physician specialist spots for Conrad 30 waivers that are initially available with the opening of the application period, which was October 1st. Conrad waivers are one means for physicians to waive the two year foreign residency requirement related to their J-1 visas, which were obtained for training in the United States.
The agency has 19 spots available for primary care practitioners, as of this writing. Primary care applicants who will work in health professional shortage areas can make application presently in Washington State, subject to all of the application’s requirements.
As per State regulations, the window will open for FLEX spot filings on January 15, 2024. If there is interest in a FLEX spot, it is certainly time to get an application ready.
Additional specialist spots will open on April 1st, 2024, if the remaining spots have not already been filled by primary or FLEX physician applications. In my experience, it is likely there will be specialist spots available on April 1st. The challenge for physicians and employers who apply will be getting the approvals through the system, so that work can start on or soon after July 1st, when most residencies and fellowships conclude. This will depend on how fast Washington State processes applications and how fast they move through the Department of State’s Waiver Review Division.
Washington State requires employers to recruit for six months in the past year, before making application. Sometimes, employers need to initiate recruitment to satisfy this requirement, and this can push back the date for filing a Conrad waiver. The state regulations also require a license, or at least application for the license four weeks before filing. These applications also require data on patient payor mixes, which can take time for some applicants.
The Conrad 30 program helps place physicians in underserved communities. In many places, there is a shortage of qualified providers, both for primary care and specialization. The program is intended to help address this need. Immigration reforms have the potential to improve patient care in rural and underserved areas.