Grantee: Washington Academy for International Medical Graduates dba The International Medical Graduates Academy
Timeframe: October 2023 – June 2024 | Amount: $27,258
To support Afghan and Ukrainian International Medical Graduates (IMG) and improve the health outcomes of their refugee/ immigrant communities, grant funding would be used for advocacy work to inform the development of a state-wide Hardship Waiver. This policy would waive certain requirements for IMGs by utilizing alternative ways of affirming degrees, creating pathways for qualified Afghan and Ukrainian refugees to practice medicine in Washington State.
The International Medical Graduates Academy (TIMGA) will utilize Nimble grant funding to prepare for the 2024 Washington Legislative session, where TIMGA will make presentations to state legislators to help them understand the issue, and encourage their support of Hardship Waiver legislation. Key preparation steps before undertaking lobbying efforts include:
- Task 1: Gather data about the problem scope in collaboration with community nonprofits: TIMGA staff will reach out to nonprofits who are reaching these ethnic minority groups, including the Ukrainian Community Center of Washington and the Afghan American Cultural Association. Additionally, TIMGA staff will reach out to other nonprofits identified by Washington State Department of Social and Health Services (DHSH) as supporting Afghan and Ukrainian refugees, including World Relief and Refugee and Immigrant Services Northwest. The purpose of this outreach is to a) identify the number of IMGs who have arrived in Washington and b) collect information regarding the obstacles they are facing and what support they need to continue their career as a physician in their new country.
- Task 2: Engage stakeholders and community leaders through education and focus groups: The Washington Medical Commission board is the primary legislative body of all physicians in the state, positioning them as a major stakeholder in new policy recommendations. Tasked with ensuring public safety, this board is instrumental in both drafting and implementing legislation regarding physician regulation. TIMGA does and will continue to work closely with this board and will request that they a) provide feedback about what does and does not work and b) share their foresight to ensure new policies, including the Hardship Waiver, do not have unintended consequences. TIMGA will also provide education to the WA Medical Commission board about hardships faced by IMGs from Ukraine and Afghanistan.To ensure that project outcomes are shaped with inclusivity and community support, TIMGA will plan and conduct two (2) collaborative focus group sessions. These engaging gatherings will bring together key stakeholders, including Washington Medical Commission board members, non-profit leaders working in refugee resettlement, and representatives from Afghan and Ukrainian IMG communities. Through structured discussions and open dialogues, we aim to gather insights, identify challenges and barriers, and collectively develop effective strategies for Hardship Waiver implementation.
- Task 3: Develop web resources in Dari, Pashto, and Ukrainian: To reach immigrants and refugee IMGs in their own languages, TIMGA will translate our downloadable web resources into Dari and Pashto, the most widely spoken languages in Afghanistan, and Ukrainian. Additionally, we will update our website to include a page specifically for Afghan and Ukrainian refugees.
- Task 4: Compile data and insights from outreach efforts and focus group sessions: This will be used to present a compelling case for the Hardship Waiver to legislators who will ultimately be responsible for implementing this policy.
About Our Grantee
TIMGA breaks down barriers that prevent International Medical Graduates from accomplishing their professional and medical career goals. TIMGA supports and empowers these immigrant and refugee doctors as they face a steep path towards licensure and encounter many obstacles such as outdated laws, the inability to afford a residency program, limited opportunities to work with a licensed physician, and linguistic or cultural barriers.