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Press Release

IRC launches online platform for refugees and immigrants in the United States seeking to obtain medical accreditation and join the fight against Coronavirus

  • There are currently 165,000 underutilized health-care refugee and immigrant workers that obtained their health-related education abroad
  • Refugees and immigrants already on the frontlines of US Coronavirus response, new platform provides information to surge of volunteers currently restricted from helping
  • The IRC platform helps refugees and immigrants register their skills and professional background, and informs them with state-by-state guidance

The International Rescue Committee (IRC) announces today Refugees.Rescue.org an online platform and collaboration with partners that will help refugees and immigrants who are trained medical and health professionals but are not credentialed in the U.S. to join the fight against COVID-19. There are currently 165,000 underutilized health-care refugee and immigrant workers who likely obtained their health-related education outside the United States, according to research from the Migration Policy Institute.

The collaboration comes at a time when American healthcare industry is in need of labor support more than ever. A documented shortage of healthcare professionals even before COVID-19 struck U.S. communities has led to worsening bottlenecks in the system for those looking to volunteer in crisis hotspots, and growing difficulty for foreign doctors to volunteer. Refugees and immigrants are already heavily involved in responding to COVID-19 in the U.S. with 17 percent of the health system are made up of immigrants and more than one in four doctors born outside of the U.S.

Hans Van de Weerd, Vice President of Resettlement, Asylum, and Integration said:

It is more critical today than ever before to have enough qualified professionals to meet the growing demands the pandemic is placing on our health systems. In the interest of immediately supporting this opportunity, the IRC is launching a new website Refugees.Rescue.org to enable refugees and immigrants in the U.S. to self-register to express their interest in volunteering and/or working on the COVID-19 response in their local community or in another location.

“Refugees and immigrants are quite simply new Americans who want to give back to the communities that welcomed them. We have seen Governors in New York and New Jersey already take steps to invite the expertise and experience of foreign certified healthcare professionals and we hope this site will facilitate further partnership not just with these states but with others across the country who may be seeking solutions to this staffing crisis. Measures like these should open pathways for extremely motivated, willing, and able frontline workers from filling the critical roles to fight COVID-19.

“The lack of pathways for new Americans to secure accreditation equivalency in the U.S. created substantial obstacles for this community before the crisis. This unprecedented global pandemic will test the healthcare system of the U.S., and we hope this initiative will help health systems mobilize.”

The IRC is working with a number of different stakeholders to increase opportunities and create pathways for participation in our nation’s COVID response.  The self-registration asks a number of questions relating to the health background of the applicants as well as their English level, current location, and availability to travel.  After submission of the self-registration, there is a link to the Medical Reserve Corps as another option to pursue.

About the IRC

The International Rescue Committee responds to the world’s worst humanitarian crises, helping to restore health, safety, education, economic wellbeing, and power to people devastated by conflict and disaster. Founded in 1933 at the call of Albert Einstein, the IRC is at work in over 40 countries and over 20 U.S. cities helping people to survive, reclaim control of their future, and strengthen their communities. Learn more at www.rescue.org and follow the IRC on Twitter & Facebook.