|Massachusetts has a well-deserved reputation as a national leader in healthcare and medical research. Despite this, our medical system has also found itself overstretched with the demands placed upon it by the COVID-19 pandemic and other structural factors.
One way to improve healthcare delivery is to provide a pathway to practice for internationally-trained health professionals to augment medical services in underserved areas. MIRA’s work with legislative allies to create the Special Commission on Foreign Trained Medical Professionals bore fruit this week with the release of the Commission’s report recommending pathways to practitioners. MIRA participated in the Commission through three appointees who contributed substantively to the recommendations.
Healthcare remains a deeply unequally distributed resource here. Affluent and centralized regions of the commonwealth receive much stronger and more robust access to health resources and medical attention, despite Massachusetts’ nation-leading physician-to-population ratio. Many communities outside the Greater Boston area, have few or no primary care physicians at all, making it very difficult for their residents to access basic healthcare.
According to the Commission report, more than 600,000 internationally trained healthcare professionals (HCPs) reside in the U.S. and immigrants make up almost one-fifth of the healthcare workers in Massachusetts. Yet compared to US-born or US-trained HCPs, immigrant nurses and physicians are significantly underemployed, unemployed, or work in non-healthcare-related fields.
Much of this gap is due to systemic and structural barriers to licensure, discriminatory regulations, and restrictive regulations.
This Friday MIRA, hosted a press conference at the State House on the recently-released “Special Commission on Foreign-Trained Medical Professionals Report and Recommendations” featuring Commission members and internationally-trained healthcare practitioners. The report includes near, medium, and long-term steps the Commonwealth may take to open pathways to practice for internationally-trained medical professionals and help address these critical shortfalls.