In full transparency, the following is a press release from Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy (MIRA) Coalition submitted to SOURCE media.
BOSTON – The Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy (MIRA) Coalition joined advocates
and medical professionals today, July 15, at the State House to unveil newly-released recommendations for short- and long-term steps needed to pave a path to permanent licensure for internationally-trained
The recommendations were included in a Special Commission on Foreign Trained Medical
Professionals report, which included input from a range of public health, medical and immigration
“After collaborating for nearly a year with policymakers, medical professionals, and immigrant and
refugee rights advocates, we are very pleased to present the recommendations of the Special
Committee on Foreign-Trained Medical Professionals,” said James G. Lavery, DPH Director of Health
Professions Licensure and Chair of the Commission. “The report and recommendations outline clear
steps for providing a permanent path to licensure for internationally-trained medical professionals.”
Some of the Commission’s most significant recommendations are the proposed path they lay out for
internationally-trained physicians and general dentists to attain full licensure. Current regulations
require these physicians to fulfill steep requirements, and these dentists to complete costly graduate
programs, even though many internationally-trained professionals retain the knowledge and experience critical to serving patients. The Special Commission recommends that these internationally-
trained physicians and general dentists serve in community health centers in rural and underserved areas of Massachusetts, leveraging their cultural competence to improve health outcomes for these
patients and improve healthcare delivery overall.
Allowing qualified internationally-trained healthcare professionals to attain full licensure through
practice in rural or underserved communities would benefit not only these professionals, but the
entire state. Many parts of Massachusetts are seriously lacking in medical professionals, placing an unsafe and unjust burden on residents.
For instance, in Suffolk County, there are 670 patients for every one physician. However, in Bristol, Plymouth, Hampden, and Franklin counties, there are 1,480 or more patients for every one physician. Additionally, in Suffolk County, there are 450 patients for every one dentist. But in Franklin, Bristol, Plymouth, Hampshire, and Worcester counties, there are 1,290 or more patients for every one dentist.
“One of the first bills I ever filed, shortly after being sworn in, was with Senator Jason Lewis and MIRA
to create this commission,” said Representative Jack Lewis (D-Framingham). “Today that
commission takes the critical step in supporting our Commonwealth’s thriving and skilled immigrant
community and in addressing critical inequities in health-care access across our Commonwealth.”
“Of all the report’s findings, we are especially excited to see recommendations included to promote
permanent paths to licensure for internationally-trained physicians and dentists,” said Elizabeth
Sweet, Executive Director of the MIRA Coalition. “These immigrants and refugees often bring
extensive education and experience with them to America, which they deserve to put to use. In doing
so, they may serve Massachusetts patients that are unfortunately going underserved now.”
“As a licensed physician and member of the Special Commission, I am proud that the report’s
recommendations offer clear steps the state can take to marshal the unique strengths of
internationally-trained immigrant and refugee medical professionals to improve healthcare delivery in
Massachusetts,” said Dr. Robert P. Marlin, Chief of the Metta Health Center at the Lowell Community
Health Center and a MIRA appointee to the Commission. “In particular, the Commission’s proposed
pathway to licensure for internationally-trained physicians would be the first program of its kind in the
country, establishing Massachusetts as a leader in this area, as it is in so many other areas of
The Special Commission on Foreign-Trained Medical Professionals was established via legislation in
2019, with the goal of studying and making recommendations regarding the licensing of
internationally-trained health professionals in order to expand and improve medical services in rural
and underserved areas.
The Special Commission met seven times between September 2021 and May
2022 and consisted of public officials, immigrant and refugee rights advocates, and medical
The Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy (MIRA) Coalition is New England’s largest non-
profit organization dedicated to promoting the rights and inclusion of immigrants and refugees.