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The IMG Career Guidance & Support Grant Program

Statement of Need for the Program:

New Americans Alliance for Development (NAAD) in collaboration with various community partners, including the International Institute of Minnesota  and the Women’s Initiative for Self-Empowerment (WISE), Propel Nonprofits and various foundations, including the Bush, Otto Bremer and the Women’s Foundation, has over 13 years’ experience assisting immigrant international medical graduates (IMGs), physicians, nurses and other trained health professionals living in the Twin Cities Metro Areas and Rochester, to meet the requirements necessary to practice their  profession in Minnesota. In addition to maximizing the economic well-being of the IMGs, our work has aimed to prepare a diversified workforce of culturally and linguistically appropriate healthcare professionals in order to decrease health disparities in Minnesota. IMGs are uniquely suited to care for underserved populations, functioning as primary care providers in rural areas and other underserved areas where there are physician shortages. Our experience during the last three grant periods has shown us that in order to effectively utilize the assets IMGs bring to our state, it is necessary to make investments in coordinated wrap-around service including: counseling;  life and resilience coaching; trainings on health care communication,  medical ethics, social etiquette,  interviewing, typing,  residency application, test taking;  English and Accent Modification; in addition to scholarship funds for taking tests, applying for residencies, traveling to interviews; and support. Therefore, Propel Nonprofits and NAAD request $349,688.75 from the MDH, Office of Rural Health and Primary Care to build upon our proven track record of assisting IMGs to integrate into Minnesota’s healthcare work force.

Short-term Goals of the Program

  1. To recruit, guide, and support IMGs, immigrant physicians, in order to prepare them for licensure in the state of Minnesota.
  2. To develop a model IMG Program with career guidance and supportive services accessible to all IMGs living in all areas of Minnesota and recognized as best practice for all US states.


Long-term Goals of the Program

  1. To develop a workforce of IMGs who will be able to positively affect the health disparities in Minnesota’s communities of color.
  2. To decrease physician shortages in rural and underserved areas.
  3. To help qualified, skilled, talented, and resilient immigrant citizens achieve their potential and increase their economic well-being.


Objectives of the proposed Program


  1. Increase the skills of 100 IMGs living in the Twin Cities Metro areas and other cities, in order to prepare them for licensure in the state of Minnesota.
  2. Assist 100 participants with system navigation, language fluency, keyboarding proficiency, US medical culture familiarity, and electronic medical record competence.
  3. Provide scholarships to100 IMGs to study, take tests, apply for and access residency and get licensed to practice their profession in Minnesota’s rural areas or other underserved areas.
  4. Partner with a speech and language programs, e.g. International Toastmasters, the Global Language Institute, and One World Speech, to improve the use of medical and professional English and accent reduction and to provide coaching and mentoring for public speaking and communication.
  5. Partner with psychologists, e.g. Dr. Henry Emmons and Dr. Verna Monson, to provide resilience coaching to participants facing barriers related to trauma/stress suffered in homelands and in Minnesota.
  6. Use four short videos of IMGs’ stories, produced in collaboration with Nathan Fisher through a grant from the Minnesota Arts Board, on NAAD’s website to share the IMG stories and complement the program’s activities.
  7. Host NAAD’s second annual stakeholder’s forum by June 2020 to publicize the IMG Public-Private Partnership.
  8. Continue collaborating with the State health professional licensing boards, including the state medical board, nursing board, physician assistant boards, and paramedic boards to support IMGs ability to work in Minnesota.
  9. Develop and maintain relationships at least with three educational institutions that will work with IMGs seeking alternative pathways to practicing in the medical field, such as physician assistant (PA), nurse practitioner (NP) and pharmaceutical representatives.


NAAD has set the target number for participants served as 100, based on existing database and last two years active participant who were studying for their exams, the amount of scholarships would be up to $2,400 per physician.


With available funding, the program staff will revise the current data base and expect referrals from refugee consortium organizations as well as congregations of faith and community-based organizations. In addition, the staff will use the program website, emails, telephone calls and send informational notices to collaborators at other community organizations, including CAPI, Somali Education Center, Hmong American Partnership, Karen Organization of MN, Center for Victims of Torture, Southeast Asian Refugee Community Home, Chicano Latino Affairs Council, International Institute of Minnesota, and Minnesota Council of Churches. The staff will use social media, immigrant and local newspapers to reach foreign trained healthcare professionals and enlist the aid of our clients to use their social media connections with others. The Program will be announced in immigrant newspapers and newsletters, and in the Pioneer Press and Star Tribune. The Program Director will request journalists to write articles for their newspapers, highlighting the immigrant doctors’ and nurses’ plights, and the opportunities this funding provides.


The program will utilize its existing system to connect doctors with appropriate training exams, beginning with the certification of home country documentation, registering for the United States Medical Licensing Exams (USMLEs), and completing the Educational Committee for Foreign Medical Graduates (ECFMG) requirements. The Program will be guided by the recommendations put forth by the IMG Task Force and by the current MDH Advisory Committee.


Participants’ preparations for exams will be organized through online courses, including Kaplan’s and USMLE World, which are proven to be successful. The client may also choose to buy the books and study on their own or in study groups organized by themselves or through the support systems of NAAD. These study systems require financial assistance.


The Program Coordinator at NAAD will continue the various program activities: the intake of new IMG participants; one-on-one case management and counseling to identify needs and match available resources to meet these needs. The NAAD Program Director will also conduct weekly training and support groups where participants work on English and medical language skills while discussing medical case presentations and receive peer support. The format of these weekly meetings will be changed to emphasize areas in which the IMGs will receive certification that will advance their readiness for residency, including Electronic Medical Records, US Medical Culture, keyboarding techniques, etc. During these weekly meetings, speakers will continue to discuss relevant issues regarding medical residencies, Health Equity and Justice Issues, and alternative pathways for doctors, such as becoming Physician Assistants, nurses, or Nurse Practitioners. We have noticed that the participants who come to the support group meetings are strongly bonded to each other and to the organization. In addition, the participants will utilize the Workforce Center for assistance with typing and interviewing skills, CV/resume writing, and application processes. Psychological trauma will be addressed with a resiliency workshops as needed. Participant survey will be completed and analyzed in the first quarter to evaluate the program and the last quarter of the grant period.  The partnership will continue to use its database that will be modified as necessary to conform to MDH requirements. This database includes the data collection elements as specified in attached documents. The process, outputs and outcomes will be evaluated. Quarterly reports will be completed and distributed to stakeholders.


Participants who receive funding through this MDH grant will be required to sign the participant contract, promising to work in Minnesota following licensure. These individuals have homes and families here. Some have been driven from their home countries and wish for stability in Minnesota. The issues arise for physicians seeking residencies. All apply for medical residencies within Minnesota, but some are accepted into programs outside of the state. It is unfortunate that they have to leave for these opportunities, but it is outside of their control.


Organizational Capacity and Relevant Experience:

Since 2005, the New Americans Alliance for Development (NAAD), a community based 501 (c) (3) non-profit organization, has collaboratively worked to implement the IMG Program. NAAD’s current mission is “to provide education, advocacy, and services to empower immigrants/refugees for local and global development”. NAAD’s long-term vision is for social and economic justice for immigrants living in MN.  NAAD, was co-founded in 2002, as the African American Friendship Association for Corporation and Development (AAFACD), by Dr. Wilhelmina Holder, a Liberian immigrant, and internationally trained public health physician who due to various barriers found it impossible to obtain medical residency in the United States. From this grew her passion for helping other IMG to achieve their goals in the shortest time possible time after immigrating to the US.  Since its incorporation in 2003 NAAD, formerly known as AAFACD, has provided training, employment opportunities and social services to professional immigrants who were underemployed and unemployed.  This small agency was able to obtain grant funding, technical support, and training from the Department of Labor for four consecutive years, the Office of Minority and Multicultural Health, Headwaters Foundation, Women’s Foundation of Minnesota; Otto Bremer Foundation; Bush Foundation; and Midway Workforce Center. New this year is a change in fiscal agent from the Women’s Initiative for Self-Empowerment. NAAD currently uses Propel Nonprofits as its fiscal sponsor.


NAAD’s development of the IMG program grew out of its completion of the Foreign Trained Health Care Professionals (FTHCP) Assets and Needs Assessment. The FTHCP program was sustained by state, federal, and local foundations, and individual gifts.  This program had two consecutive three-years’ grants from the US Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) and two years of grant funding from the MDH, OMMH for the “Elimination of Health Disparities Initiative” program using the assets of IMGs to educate immigrant communities about health issues, including insurance and how to find healthcare homes. Thus, the program has had a strong infrastructure and supportive, passionate personnel who have the experience and credibility to assist IMGs achieve their career goals and to demonstrate how utilizing these individuals to their greatest capacity will improve healthcare for immigrant populations.


Since 2005 NAAD’s office has been in Midway St. Paul, MN, at the corner of Fairview Ave. and W. University Ave, easily accessible to participants, as it is near the Bus Transit and Train lines. The Agency is governed by a Board consisting of nine diverse members and supported by qualified and compassionate staff who have been actively working with the IMG program.


The Executive Director and Program Director of NAAD, Wilhelmina Holder, MDCM, DTPH, MS, has a master’s degree in epidemiology with extensive training in assessment and evaluation, and has more than 8 years of experience conducting assessment and evaluating various programs funded at local, state and federal level. She has worked with immigrants for over 21 years, co-founded NAAD and continues to consult and be actively involved in NAAD.