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Upwardly Global Applauds Introduction of ‘Welcome Back to the Health Care Workforce Act’ Enabling Immigrants To Refuel Healthcare Workforce

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Upwardly Global-backed legislation empowers internationally trained immigrants to address critical healthcare shortages

NEW YORK — Upwardly Global, the leading national organization dedicated to dismantling employment barriers for immigrant, refugee, and asylee professionals, commends the recent introduction of the “Welcome Back to the Health Care Workforce Act” in the U.S. Senate. Sponsored by Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.), the legislation is poised to help confront the nation’s critical shortage of healthcare professionals by establishing pathways to support healthcare licensure processes for internationally trained immigrants, refugees, and asylees.

“This legislation has the power to revolutionize how we uplift immigrants, refugees, and asylees with invaluable healthcare expertise, empowering them not just to tackle critical shortages, but to rebuild their careers in their new home,” says Jina Krause-Vilmar, President and CEO of Upwardly Global. “By tapping into this underserved population, we can bridge vital workforce gaps, enhance the quality and safety of care, and ultimately elevate health outcomes for all Americans.”

The American Hospital Association estimates shortages of up to 124,000 physicians by 2033 and over 200,000 nurses per year. The legislation would harness the 270,000 immigrants with health-related degrees who are working below their level of training or are not working in healthcare to fill those critical gaps. 

Momentum is building to fill critical gaps in our healthcare workforce as 15 states have passed or are considering legislation on easing licensing requirements for internationally trained healthcare workers. The federal legislation charts a national path forward, offering grants that provide avenues for continuing education, tailored English-language instruction, vocational training, and career guidance, among other resources.

Over the past year, Upwardly Global collaborated closely with Sen. Kaine’s office to craft and promote the legislation alongside key partners, including WES and the IMPRINT coalition. Notably, this bill marks the fourth federal initiative introduced in the current Congress aimed at removing barriers to healthcare workforce entry for internationally trained immigrants and refugees. 

Last fall, Upwardly Global released a report on the innovative solutions that states like Illinois undertook to address medical workforce shortages, including changes to licensure for internationally trained healthcare professionals and policies that were inclusive of their training and experience.

“At a time when I’m hearing from hospitals and other health care employers about how difficult it is to find workers, we should be making it easier for these individuals to enter the health care workforce,” Sen. Kaine said in a statement “I’m proud to introduce this bill to address common barriers that internationally trained healthcare workers face and help ensure that our communities benefit from their many talents.”

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. Upwardly Global has also pioneered the application of the “returnship” model for immigrant professionals reentering the healthcare sector in collaboration with NewYork-Presbyterian, which has successfully onboarded over 100 immigrants and refugees to date.

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About Upwardly Global

Upwardly Global’s mission is to dismantle 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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