Upwardly Global’s new report, “The Returnship Model: A Blueprint for Healthcare Institutions Hiring Immigrant and Refugee Talent,” introduces the innovative concept of returnship programs and provides a roadmap for replication across other U.S. healthcare institutions.

According to the Migration Policy Institute, over 260,000 immigrants and refugees with international medical licenses are unemployed or underemployed in the U.S. despite the country facing a critical shortage of healthcare professionals. By the 2030s, the nation could see shortages of as many as 124,000 physicians and close to 200,000 nurses, plus shortfalls in auxiliary professions and healthcare-adjacent roles, due to an aging population, an aging healthcare workforce, and staff burnout.

In response, Upwardly Global partnered with NewYork-Presbyterian to launch a returnship program — the first program of its kind for immigrants, refugees, and asylees.

Our returnship program is designed to support:

  • Internationally trained and educated professionals by providing them with an on-ramp to skill-aligned jobs in the healthcare industry.
  • Employers in accessing untapped talent pools, effectively filling vacancies across the healthcare sector, ranging from patient care to IT, administration, research, and more.

“We’re finding individuals who have extraordinary skills that we would not have found without the partnership with Upwardly Global. Prior to Upwardly Global, we had done broad outreach to [immigrant] communities, but it had not been as smooth.”

Shaun E. Smith, Senior Vice President and Chief People and Culture Officer at NewYork-Presbyterian; Upwardly Global Board Member

Read the report for more information on returnship programs and how to start your own, as well as stories from Upwardly Global job seekers who found career success through our partnership with NewYork-Presbyterian.

What is a returnship?

Returnships were pioneered by Goldman Sachs in 2008 as a means for helping talented professionals restart their careers after an extended absence from the workforce. Most programs focus on helping caregivers reenter the workforce after taking time off to care for children or other family members. They are short-term, paid positions that are designed to help “returners” catch up with new technology, changes in their field, or readjust to professional life.
Returnship programs vary by employer but typically offer hard- and soft-skills training, social support, mentorship, and a pathway to full-time employment. 
Returnship programs for caregivers claim high success rates, with anywhere from 60% to 90% of their participants landing full-time jobs after the returnship. For employers, these programs allow for a talented pool of gender-diverse employees to fill mid- and senior-level roles, as many caregivers are women. Employers get a chance to try out employees through these programs, and the returners benefit from the opportunity to restart their careers.