Crossing the barriers


Foreign health trained professionals are optimistic in their medical careers.

Foreign health trained professionals from a dozen of countries including Africa, Asia and former Soviet republics gathered at one of the conference rooms of the African American Friendship Association for Cooperation and Development in St. Paul to participate in ongoing workshop training sessions that they hope will pave the way around what some of the participants called “a major road blocks” against their career.

“This Program will move a junk of obstacles away in front of these medical professionals and help the State overcome some of the human resources shortages it faces in this field” said Dr. Wilhelmina Holder of African American Friendship Association for Cooperation and Development speaking to The African News Journal. She said the program will eliminate the barriers foreign medical professionals face accessing a local resources, and opportunities to overcome obstacles for these foreign health care professionals in obtaining professional jobs in the State.

The International Institute of Minnesota, the African American Friendship Association for Cooperation and Development, and Workforce Development out of Rochester received grant money to help foreign-born medical professionals gain licensure in the U.S. These medical professionals could be nurses, lab technicians, doctors, or anything else related to medical field. This grant can assist paying for English classes, training, licenses, exam prep materials, training and so on.

Dr. Holder started to mobilize and advocate for Foreign Trained Health Care Professionals to get their licensures and finally develop a centre at AAFACD. The need for use of FTHCPs to fill the known shortage of health care workers in MN is apparent from the Ramsey County Workforce Investment Board 2005 Annual Report ( and a proposed Bill by Representative Karen Clarke for the appropriation of funding for the pilot project for the use of FTHCPs (

Importantly, Representative Clarke’s bill was enacted for implementation from July 1, 2006, to June 30, 2007 and an appropriation funding of $450,000 allocated. Three organizations were awarded $150,000 each to carry out this project. This project, is a collaboration of Department of Employment and Economic Development, African & American Friendship Association For Cooperation & Development (AAFACD) Inc, International Institute of Minnesota (IIM) and Rochester Workforce Centre.

A recent study conducted by some of the above agencies revealed that IIM has a database of 165 foreign trained medical doctors and nurses who desire to get their licensure in their professions are now working in nursing homes as nursing assistants.

In August, 2006, a new law went into effect reducing the bureaucratic process for foreign nurses to obtain license in the State. So far, AAFACD maintains data-base in conjunction with the International Institute of Minnesota (IIM), of at least 190 foreign health care professionals (mainly doctors and nurses) desiring to get their licensure to practice in areas of healthcare, and needed local resources and opportunities to obtain professional jobs. The AAFACD says funding will be used to pay for licensing exams, registration, study materials and classes for specific exams. It will also be used for English language/literacy training and computer proficiency training needed to successfully complete exams and classes. These professionals will be able to use their skills and do the work they were trained for & Minnesotans will be among the beneficiaries.

For more information, contact the following:

Mayalan Keita Brown, African & American Friendship Assn. for Cooperation and Development Phone: 651-645-5828, or Wilhelmina V. Holder, MD, MS, Project Consultant, 651-226-0429

Carol DaBruzzi, RN, International Institute, Phone: 651-647-0191×313,