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Pathways for Immigrant and Refugee Health Professionals Twitter Chat: Key Takeaways

Thursday May 21, 2020 | by WES Global Talent Bridge

Immigrant doctors, nurses, and pharmacists make up more than 16 percent of health care staff in the United States. Another 263,000 immigrants with undergraduate health care-related degrees are in low-skilled jobs or are unemployed, a majority of them holding international credentials, per the Migration Policy Institute.

The current crisis underscores the need to open pathways for underutilized internationally trained health professionals to join the fight against COVID-19 and contribute to communities across the U.S. now and in the future. Immigrant and refugee health professionals possess the cultural and linguistic competencies needed in the U.S. health workforce.

Here are some key takeaways from a Twitter chat held in early May that World Education Services (WES) and partners engaged in:

1. Immigrants and refugees are on the front lines of the COVID-19 response as health workers, cleaning, food, and other service providers.


2. Immigrant and refugee health professionals contribute linguistic and cross-cultural skills, which are severely needed in the U.S. health workforce.


3. Internationally trained health professionals make critical contributions in low-income, rural, and underserved communities.


4. Access to English language training poses a significant barrier to many immigrants and refugees.


5. There is a clear need for pathways that enable the integration of immigrant and refugee health professionals into the U.S. health care system.


6. Employers and recruiters should recognize the value of international diplomas.


7. Immigrant and refugee health professionals stand ready to contribute to the U.S. health care system both during and beyond the COVID1-19 pandemic if licensing barriers are lifted.


8. States can take a number of steps to remove licensing barriers that shut out internationally trained health workers. For example, they can fund dedicated residency spots for international medical graduates.


9. States can help internationally trained immigrant and refugee health professionals avoid unnecessary retraining by establishing standard mechanisms to assess their international experience and credentials.


10. Immigrant and refugee talent plays a crucial role in defeating COVID-19 and rebuilding the economy once the crisis is over.


11. Beyond the current pandemic, we need to continue to educate communities about the wealth of skills that immigrants and refugees bring to the workforce.


12. A society that welcomes and integrates immigrants and refugees will thrive.


We are grateful for all the insights shared during this conversation, and for the efforts of organizations and individuals across the U.S. to achieve professional integration of internationally trained professionals. For past or future conversations about immigrant integration, follow #ImmigrantsThrive and WES on Twitter.

Thank you to participating organizations!

  • International Rescue Committee
  • Upwardly Global
  • National Immigration Forum
  • IMPRINT
  • MIRA
  • Refugees International
  • New American Economy
  • Church World Service
  • Refugee Congress
  • National Skills Coalition
  • Global Cleveland
  • Center for Immigrant Education & Training (CIET) at LaGuardia Community College

Click here for more from WES Global Talent Bridge.

WES Global Talent Bridge is a program dedicated to helping skilled immigrants fully utilize their talents and education in the United States and Canada. Global Talent Bridge joins with institutional partners and community organizations to help skilled immigrants leverage their training, achieve their professional goals, and contribute their talents to their full potential.