Welcome Back to the Healthcare Workforce Act: 8 things to know

The Welcome Back to the Health Care Workforce Act intends to address workforce shortages across the country by better supporting internationally educated healthcare professionals. 

U.S. Sen. Tim Kaine and Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi introduced the bill April 9. It would create a grant program administered by HHS' Health Resources and Services Administration for hospitals and health systems to provide career support to internationally educated healthcare professionals to integrate into the workforce. 

Of the 2 million college-educated immigrants currently living in the U.S., roughly 14 percent hold health-related degrees, according to the lawmakers.   

"I recently met with students who shared with me their frustrations of immigrating to the United States, having a degree and significant experience, and not being able to find a job in their field that's commensurate with their skills," Mr. Kaine said. "At a time when I'm hearing from hospitals and other healthcare employers about how difficult it is to find workers, we should be making it easier for these individuals to enter the health care workforce."

Here are eight details about the legislation, which can be found in full here:  

1. Entities interested in the grant program will need to apply to the HHS secretary, describing their partnerships with institutions of higher education, its experience working with internationally educated healthcare professionals, and descriptions of each project it plans to develop or continue with grant funding. 

2. In awarding grants, the bill calls for HHS to prioritize eligible groups whose projects help to find and keep internationally trained healthcare workers in jobs where there aren't enough local workers to meet the community's needs or internationally trained healthcare workers in rural areas.

3. The bill calls for grant funding to go toward one or more system-level improvements and one or more individual-level improvements for internationally educated healthcare professionals. 

4. System-level improvements include establishment of educational networks, peer support and mentoring, educating employers about the skills of internationally educated professionals, creating career advancement opportunities, and implementing strategies to improve retention rates. 

5. Individual-level Improvements aim to provide tailored support to these professionals, such as licensure assistance, access to language and exam preparation courses, career counseling, guidance with credentialing evaluations, education on employment rights, and assistance with obtaining academic or training records from overseas.

6. An "internationally educated health care professional" is someone who finished their healthcare training in another country and is now living in the United States, either as a permanent resident, refugee, asylee or with authorization to work.

7. The bill calls for authorized appropriations for each of fiscal years 2025 through 2029, with the legislation set to take effect no later than one year after its enactment. 

8. More than 50 healthcare organizations and associations have issued support for the legislation, including America's Essential Hospitals, the National Black Nurses Association, Johnson City, Tenn.-based Ballad Health and Brentwood, Tenn.-based Lifepoint Health. 

Copyright © 2024 Becker's Healthcare. All Rights Reserved. Privacy Policy. Cookie Policy. Linking and Reprinting Policy.


Featured Whitepapers

Featured Webinars