Illinois to Create Formal Task Force on Internationally Licensed Healthcare Professionals

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For over two decades, Upwardly Global has been advocating for policies and practices that ease immigrant and refugee inclusion in the professional workforce and has directly supported almost 20,000 professionals in their pursuit of good jobs with family-supporting wages. In Illinois, we’ve been focusing recent advocacy efforts on internationally trained medical professionals, whose skills and service are needed now more than ever to build a strong and equitable healthcare system in the face of COVID-19 and beyond. We’re excited to share that our work is starting to pay off.

Two new wins will move this work forward:

  • On Thursday, March 31, the Illinois General Assembly Senate voted unanimously, following House approval the week before, to create a task force to investigate legislation that can ease pathways for immigrant and refugee doctors and other healthcare professionals. Upwardly Global will appoint nonprofit partners to serve on this task force when IL HB5465 is signed into law by Governor Pritzker.
  • Earlier this year, Governor Pritzker and IDFPR (Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation) Secretary Treto opened a temporary opportunity for internationally trained physicians to support licensed physicians during the COVID-19 emergency. We are working to turn this opportunity into real wins for immigrants and refugees — over 350 of whom have already received authorization — and to help build the case for permanent reform within the Illinois healthcare system.

As we support the implementation of this temporary opportunity through information sharing, job-seeker coaching, and employer outreach (click here for more materials and information), we will also continue working behind-the-scenes to connect and strengthen the field of engaged local and national nonprofits, government partners, and employer friends to forward long-term legislative reform so that trained immigrants and refugees can access permanent career pathways and serve a healthcare system that desperately needs their talent. Currently, the process to relicense in Illinois is lengthy, costly, and difficult to access. While many other states have piloted relicensing reform models, Illinois is behind the curve.

We are grateful to have teamed up with IL State Representative Theresa Mah in late 2020 to form a working group and begin envisioning long-term reform options for Illinois. Rep. Mah has become our champion in the IL General Assembly and, through her leadership and that of Senate sponsors Sen. Aquino, Sen. Van Pelt, and Sen. Simmons, we were able to pass  IL HB5465 to create the Task Force on Internationally-Licensed Health Care Professionals.

After the bill is signed by Governor Pritzker, the task force will investigate barriers to licensure and practice for internationally licensed healthcare professionals in Illinois and prepare a report for the Governor and General Assembly outlining strategies for reducing barriers.

Upwardly Global will be working within and outside the task force to ensure that permanent legislation on relicensing reform is proposed in the IL General Assembly in 2023, just one more step towards creating an equitable, welcoming country where everyone — including immigrants, refugees, and asylees — can fully contribute and thrive.

We wish to recognize the coalition that has made this possible:

  • Alivio Medical Center
  • Chicago Bilingual Nurse Consortium
  • Chicagoland Healthcare Workforce Collaborative
  • Chicago Medical Society
  • Church World Service
  • Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights
  • Medical Organization for Latino Advancement
  • Pakistani Physicians Society, IL
  • Refugee Action Network
  • Refugee One
  • Welcome Back Initiative
  • World Education Services

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