The Invaluable Role Migrants Play In The U.S. Healthcare System Continues To Become More Pronounced

Earlier this year, a recent survey by Ernest & Young showed a rapidly widening gap between vacancies and job applicants in the U.S. As the world recovers from a crippling pandemic, industries are facing large challenges in securing qualified workers for their vacancies. One of the industries leading the list: the healthcare industry. Experts have said the pandemic has only exacerbated the healthcare worker shortage that is ongoing in the country right now.

According to Dr. Ernest Grant, president of the American Nurses Association, “Nurse shortages are a long-standing issue, but because of COVID, it is anticipated to grow even more by next year.” As healthcare providers facing unprecedented labor shortages, the focus is turning to the impact that closed borders have had on migrants filling those vacancies, and the invaluable but unrecognized role migrants have been playing in the healthcare industry for years.

Migrant Healthcare Workers Leading The Frontline Of Global Crisis

Recently, the contribution of migrant workers to the global pandemic has come to the forefront- particularly in the healthcare industry. After and during the outbreak, migrant healthcare workers have been on the frontlines of providing medical care. In several key outbreak locations and metro cities across the U.S, they have made up more than double of their national average in the healthcare industry. According to New American Economy Research Fund, immigrant healthcare workers are 51 percent of the healthcare worker population in Miami. For New York, the epicenter of the recent outbreak, that number is 41.8 percent.

Senior And Disabled Healthcare Services Rely Heavily On Migrant Healthcare Workers

Throughout the years, migrants have accounted for a significant proportion of the healthcare industry. In 2017, migrants were 18.2 percent of healthcare workers. Fast forward to the latest national statistics and they now account for 28 percent of physicians and 24 percent of dentists in the U.S. These success stories, in regards to the legal side of things, transpire due to professional legal help. In other words, an immigration lawyer helps individuals jump through immigration hoops, which can drastically lessen stress for the immigrant family as well as their employee. Furthermore, another notable point is the contribution of migrant healthcare workers to senior healthcare. They also account for 38 percent of home health aides – commonly used with those aging at home or those with disabilities.

With 1 in every 4 Americans living with a disability, the support they provide to a significant portion of the American population is undisputed. Also, 30.2 percent of migrant healthcare workers are nursing home workers, providing critical support to the aging population in their later life. There is also a brewing shortage of care workers for older adults.

Migrant Healthcare Workers Acing The Patient Communication Issue In The Healthcare Industry

Recent news reports have highlighted an ongoing problem within the healthcare industry that could lead to life-threatening complications and poor patient experience – poor patient and healthcare professional communication. In a truly diverse population across the U.S. being able to adequately communicate with patients is critical to ensuring they understand the care they are receiving and even reducing medical malpractice incidences.

Research has found that migrant workers seem to be better suited to addressing this issue. In the study by New American Economy Research Fund, they found that a majority of migrant healthcare workers are bilingual. For instance, in Atlanta, 61.6 percent of migrant physicians and surgeons were bilingual. In New York, 75.6 percent of respiratory therapists were bilingual.

With immigration criteria getting tougher and the healthcare worker shortages becoming more critical, the value of migrant workers in healthcare will only become more pronounced. Maybe it will be the catalyst to drive a rethink of the role migrants play in the economy as a whole.


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