Documented Immigrants Face Barriers in Health Care, Other Professions
Limited English-language skills and a lack of U.S. credentials keep many documented immigrants from working as health care professionals or in other careers that they held in their native country, according to a report by the Washington, D.C.-based Migration Policy Institute, the Los Angeles Times reports.
According to the report, more than 1.3 million college-educated documented immigrants are unemployed or working in unskilled jobs in the U.S., with about one-fourth living in California.
Complicating matters for immigrants trained as health care professionals, U.S. medical systems also often require coursework that is not generally required abroad like psychiatric and maternity nursing, according to Julie Hughes-Lederer, interim director of the Los Angeles County Regional Health Occupations Resource Center.
Need for Physicians
California faces a shortage of health professionals who can speak the language and understand the state's diverse population, the Times reports.
According to data compiled by the Welcome Back Initiative -- a program that aims to help immigrants overcome barriers to practicing in the state -- Hispanics make up 35.5% of California's population but only 5.2% of its physicians and 5.7% of its registered nurses.
In addition, the nation's physician shortage could be compounded by the retirement of the baby boomers, according to Michael Fix, senior vice president of MPI.
To help immigrant professionals work in their original careers, the MPI report advocates:
- More language and workforce training;
- National coordination of credential criteria;
- Three-year transitional visas; and
- Expansion of programs that help documented immigrants obtain necessary credentials to work in their field of training (Watanabe, Los Angeles Times, 11/11).