Foreign-trained physicians tapped to end shortage

With the cloud of a physician shortage looming over the heads of healthcare executives, many organizations may find the solution to filling in the workforce gap with foreign-trained healthcare professionals.

For instance, the Welcome Back Initiative is a free-of-charge, nonprofit organization, aimed at helping foreign-born healthcare professionals gain credentials to work in the U.S. Many healthcare professionals already exist in the country but are untapped and working below their education level, according to an American Medical News article.

"I'm a doctor from my country, and I want to do it here. I love medicine. I love my patients," said Dr. Maria Montenegro in the article. "I don't care if I have to go to Alaska to practice medicine, I want to do it."

The existing pool of healthcare professionals may be one solution to the workforce crisis, although there may be language, educational, or cultural challenges with immigrant healthcare professionals.

The Welcome Back Initiative helps them market their skills and obtain further education when necessary, in addition to attaining cultural competency and language skills, according to the Welcome Back Initiative website.

How successful is the program? Out of the 4,022 physicians in the program, about 100 have entered residency training, according to American Medical News.

Aside from only numbers, the program and foreign-trained professionals might add another benefit to the healthcare industry--diversity. According to the Welcome Back Initiative website, the program helps add diversification to the medical profession.

"Having those who speak the language and have the cultural competencies is important," said Migration Policy Institute Director of Communications Michelle Mittelstadt, in the article. "The health care system is already taxed and will be taxed even more as health reforms move forward. This is about taking advantage of the pool of people already in this country."

For more:
- read the American Medical News article
- check out the Welcome Back Initiative

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