Miami Dade College Trains Foreign Health Care Professionals to Provide Patient Care in the U.S.
Miami, February 25, 2009 -
The Council on Physician and Nurse Supply (CPNS), an independent, multi-disciplinary national organization of health care professionals, has predicted the U.S. may lack as many as 200,000 physicians and 800,000 nurses by the year 2020. As populations continue growing and practicing doctors approach retirement age, all eyes are on education to address this critical challenge.
Leading the way, Miami Dade College (MDC) has established the Foreign Physician Alternative Certification Program (FOPAC), which provides orientation, assistance and training to foreign health care professionals living in the U.S. In just one year since its inception, the program has served more than 500 individuals, such as Dr. Ernesto Manzano, who is completing his internal medicine residency in New York and Dr. Elayne Smithen, who was accepted to the University of Pennsylvania’s PASS Program in dental medicine.
FOPAC is supported by the Department of Children and Families (Office of Refugee Services), the Florida Legislative Allocation and Blue Cross and Blue Shield.
“This is a tremendous opportunity, not just in South Florida, to identify and retrain foreign physicians and health care professionals to deliver benefits to our residents,” said Penny Shaffer, market president for Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Florida.
At a recent MDC Board of Trustees meeting, she presented a check for $150,000 on behalf of Blue Cross and Blue Shield to help further the program’s success.
The FOPAC program offers two tracks. One provides foreign physicians the opportunity to train and study for licensure in the U.S. to work as practicing medical doctors. The other track aims at retraining foreign health care professionals to obtain degrees in other in-demand medical careers such as in nursing, medical lab technology, respiratory care, sonography, and teaching, among others.
In order to qualify, the applicants must be in the U.S. legally and show written proof that they studied and practiced medicine in another country. The length of time in the FOPAC program is determined by the individual’s English language proficiency level.
Luisa Lopez, a nurse from Peru, is among 75 foreign health care professionals studying for the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) exam set for Apr. 20. If she passes, she will have the opportunity to present herself for the nursing board exam.
“I’m very dedicated to my studies right now. I can’t miss this opportunity,” Lopez said.
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