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Improve Domestic Health Care Worker Recruiting, Training In U.S. To Improve Economy, Global Health

“Today about 12 percent of the health work force [in the U.S.] is foreign-born and trained, including a quarter of all physicians,” Kate Tulenko, senior director of health system innovation at IntraHealth International, writes in a New York Times opinion piece, adding, “That’s bad for American workers, but even worse for the foreign workers’ home countries, including some of the world’s poorest and sickest, which could use these professionals at home.” She says expensive schooling and strict credential requirements, which some foreign-trained workers do not have to meet, are keeping U.S. health workers from entering the workforce.

Tulenko notes, “Multiple studies, even when controlled for poverty, show that access to health workers is directly related to mortality and health outcomes,” and she suggests several steps medical schools and the federal government could take to implement cost-effectiveness measures. She concludes, “It is irrational and immoral to recruit health workers from countries where one in five children die before their fifth birthday when we could be recruiting and training workers domestically. Doing so would help our economy, global public health and the 314 million Americans who rely on our medical system to provide high-quality, affordable care” (9/13).