Upwardly Global Helps Ukrainian Doctor Land U.S. Medical Residency

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Ihor, a Ukrainian neurologist who landed a U.S. medical residency with Upwardly Global

After six years in the U.S., Ihor reboots a promising neurology career

In 2017, a stint as a boxing champion allowed 35-year-old Ihor to move from Ukraine to Minneapolis, Minnesota, on a U.S. talent visa — but his skills go far beyond the ring. In his home country, he had also been a doctor specializing in neurology.

“After I came to the United States, I was working multiple different jobs. It was very hard to find myself and my pathway,” says Ihor, who worked as a boxing coach, massage therapist, and delivery driver to make ends meet.

Medical relicensing in the U.S.

In Ukraine, Ihor spent over eight years obtaining his medical license and gained valuable experience providing care. However, when he relocated to the U.S., he thought it would be impossible to practice neurology again. His international licensing simply wouldn’t translate.

Many internationally licensed healthcare professionals encounter barriers to relicensing, an often costly and time-consuming process requiring years of extra hurdles. And yet, the U.S. anticipates a shortage of over 3.2 million healthcare workers by 2026.

Nonetheless, Ihor found inspiration from fellow immigrants on the relicensing journey. Spurred by their encouragement, he decided to embark on this years-long process.

Between shifts, Ihor offered to work for free at a small general practitioner clinic. Within a few years, he began a neurology “observership” with the support of the clinic’s doctors. He later passed the required exams with flying colors, but even so, he spent two years applying to residency programs with no luck.

“I had very big hopes. People were telling me during the interview, ‘You’re a very strong candidate, but no match,” says Ihor, disheartened. “After multiple different trials and efforts, I [found out] about Upwardly Global.”

Career coaching from Upwardly Global

Tamar, his Upwardly Global career coach, helped him find research experience to strengthen his applications. She provided expert guidance on resume improvement and interview skills with a special focus on immigrants in the medical field.

“Upwardly Global helped me with building the structure of my resume [and taught me] how to find a job,” says Ihor. “Also, they provided me with specific certifications, which also gave big benefits in the job search.”

In 2022, he landed an opportunity to perform microcraniotomy on mice in a laboratory at the University of Minnesota. Ihor’s skills grew as he studied traumatic brain injuries and conducted behavioral tests. His supervisor, the Head of the Neurology Department, wrote a glowing recommendation letter.

“Later, I started applying for medical residency. Upwardly Global helped me a lot with my application, especially with my personal statement,” says Ihor, whose job coach supported him through numerous revisions. “And finally, I think we nailed it.”

During interview season, Tamar connected him with current medical residents for mock interviews. This valuable practice played a crucial role in his success.

“Upwardly Global gave me a huge boost to my career search,” Ihor says. “It’s really sad that I didn’t run into Upwardly Global earlier in my life in America. I would’ve gone into research or the medical field much earlier than I did.”

Matching with the U.S. medical residency program

In 2023, Ihor matched with Berkshire Medical Center, an affiliate of the University of Massachusetts. He finally achieved his goal of a medical residency.

“If you know about Upwardly Global, work with them right away,” Ihor advises. “Because this will be the shortest pathway to your main goal and to your dream.”

Want to find meaningful work with Upwardly Global and help immigrants and refugees restart their careers in the U.S.? Find all of our current job openings here.

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