This December, Professor Westy Egmont and other members of a special task force convened by Governor Deval Patrick presented an important report at the State House entitled Rx for Strengthening Massachusetts’ Economy and Healthcare System. According to the Massachusetts Immigrant & Refugee Advocacy Coalition (MIRA), the report introduced “ground-breaking new research on the challenges facing foreign-trained nurses, doctors, dentists, pharmacists, physical therapists and other healthcare professionals working to restart their careers in Massachusetts.” Egmont served on the task force in his role as co-chair of the governor’s Advisory Council for Refugees and Immigrants.
Key recommendations from the report, according to MIRA, included:
- The need for better support systems for immigrants with regards to workforce development, and at educational institutions.
- The establishment of new funding mechanisms to cover the costs of professional re-entry for immigrant workers.
- A review of healthcare professional licensure regulations that may create artificial barriers to relicensing for highly-trained immigrant workers, as well as a system for creating more centralized and widely shared information on how to get relicensed.
- A recommendation for a new position within the Massachusetts Office for Refugees and Immigrants to oversee immigrant integration policy across state government.
Other members of this unique, first-of-its-kind task force that was formed by Governor Patrick in 2013 were: Eva Millona, Executive Director of MIRA; Kathleen Betts, Assistant Secretary for Children, Youth and Families in the Executive Office of Health and Human Services; Marcony Almeida-Barros, Acting Executive Director of the Office for Refugees and Immigrants; and the author of the report Jeff Gross, the Director of MIRA’s New Americans Integration Institute.
Patrick’s tenure as governor of Massachusetts comes to an end this January, when Charlie Baker will assume the Commonwealth’s top executive position. “Governor Patrick is a great friend of immigrants in Massachusetts,” says Egmont, “He has accepted the report, expressed appreciation for our work, and affirmed the need to reduce the barriers that many face. He has also assured me that he will highlight this report as a key order of business for the incoming governor.”