Runta News, OLYMPIA, Washington
Yesterday Gov. Jay Inslee signed legislation establishing a work group that will develop recommendations for a program to aid international medical graduates in overcoming barriers to professional careers in Washington state.
The work group established by Senate Bill 5846 will recommend strategies to reduce barriers for graduates of medical programs at institutions outside the U.S. and Canada but then struggle to gain access to residency programs necessary for licensing in Washington.
“As we address health disparities, physician shortages, and a lack of access to culturally competent medical care, we need to eliminate the barriers for these providers,” said the bill’s sponsor, Sen. Rebecca Saldaña (D-Seattle). “This workforce is an untapped resource that could provide more accessible, quality care to our vulnerable communities.”
The work group will bring together representatives from state medical schools as well as hospitals, international medical graduate organizations, migrant health centers, the state Department of Health, and others.
“This impacts the real lives of some of our community members who have dreamed of an equal opportunity to practice medicine in the professions they spent decades pursuing,” said Ahmed Ali, executive director of the Somali Health Board. “This bill gives them a window of hope to further their practice in medicine, and the implementation of a program for international medical graduates would significantly help in addressing health disparities in low income, underserved communities throughout the state.”
Responding to Runta News’s question about how smoothly the bill passed on the floor, State Senator Rebecca responded, “Legislation usually does not pass the first year it is introduced. However, the international medical graduate community is made up of incredible individuals with inspiring stories and a passion to serve. They were successful because they did their own research, met with many elected officials before the session, consistently showed up during the session, and were willing to adjust the legislation to include additional perspectives. I am very honored and proud to have had the opportunity to help them advance their goal, and look forward to seeing the results and next steps that come out of the taskforce.”
The work group must report its recommendations to the governor and the Legislature by Dec. 1, 2019.