Upwardly Global and TIMGA Join Forces To Reshape the Future of International Medical Graduate Licensing

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Partnership follows approval of groundbreaking legislation creating an alternative pathway to licensure for IMGs in Illinois

CHICAGO — Upwardly Global, the leading national nonprofit empowering professional immigrants, refugees, and asylees in the U.S. workforce, is proud to announce a new partnership with The International Medical Graduates Academy (TIMGA). This collaboration follows the approval of new legislation in August 2023, which creates an alternative pathway to full licensure for international medical graduates (IMGs) in Illinois. Together, Upwardly Global and TIMGA will lay the groundwork and foster relationships with key stakeholders in the state as the Illinois Legislature drafts and finalizes the rules on IMG licensing.

In a recent report titled “Illinois’ Trailblazing Solution to Doctor Shortages: Opening Doors for Immigrant, Refugee, and Asylee Healthcare Professionals,” Upwardly Global examines the legislative and advocacy efforts that set the stage to create this alternative pathway to full licensure for internationally trained physicians.

“With the right reforms in place, the healthcare field is an area where highly trained refugee and immigrant talent can be tapped to fill critical workforce gaps, improve the quality and safety of care, and ultimately improve health outcomes for American people,” says Jina Krause-Vilmar, President and CEO at Upwardly Global. “We are thrilled to be a leader in this effort and will continue to work alongside like-minded organizations and policymakers to advocate for reforms that open doors for the thousands of underemployed IMGs in Illinois and across the country.”

Illinois joins a growing list of states that are pursuing innovative licensing initiatives to meet healthcare labor shortages. TIMGA worked closely with Washington’s Governor Jay Inslee in the 2019-2020 legislative session to pass Senate Bill 5846, which allows IMGs to work under practicing physicians as they prepare for state licensure exams. To date, TIMGA has helped place over 50 physicians into skill-aligned jobs and was recently awarded a large state grant to further expand their work. 

“The research demonstrates that IMGs are statistically more likely to practice in areas that are low income, which means that adding more IMGs to the physician workforce will have the largest impact in traditionally underserved and low-income communities throughout the nation,” says Dr. Mohamed Khalif, Executive Director of TIMGA. “In this way, supportive legislation for licensing IMGs helps create equity in healthcare while also creating better lives for IMG physicians whose talents would otherwise go unutilized.”

For over two decades, Upwardly Global has been at the forefront of advocating for policies and practices that champion workforce inclusion for internationally trained healthcare professionals. Specializing in supporting international medical graduate professionals, our programs cater to both job seekers looking to relicense and those pursuing alternative pathways such as clinical research. To date, Upwardly Global has assisted nearly 900 healthcare job seekers across the U.S. in securing full-time placements, including 120 who successfully matched for residency positions.


About Upwardly Global

Upwardly Global’s mission is to eliminate employment barriers for low-income immigrant, refugee, and asylee professionals and to advance their inclusion into the U.S. economy. Since 2000, Upwardly Global has empowered unemployed or underemployed newcomers with the skills, career coaching, and social capital needed to rebuild their lives and careers. Learn more at UpwardlyGlobal.org.

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