New York, California, New Jersey Lead in Foreign-Born Medical Workers

September 30, 2017


According to statistics compiled by the Migration Policy Institute (MPI), a nonprofit think tank in Washington, DC, immigrants make up a sizeable portion of the nation’s health care workforce – and for those aiming for a medical career, a handful of states offer the most opportunity. 

In 2015, foreign-born professionals comprised nearly 17 percent of the 12.4 million people in the US working as doctors, nurses, dentists and other health care providers. That figure reflects a growth in the sheer number foreign-born health-care workers from 1.5 million in 2006 to 2.1 million in 2015. 

While this group is represented in the industry in all areas of the US, the immigrant share of the health-care workforce was roughly twice the national level in three states and District of Columbia. Topping the states offering the most opportunity are:

  • New York, where 37 percent of healthcare workers are foreign-born.
  • District of Columbia, also 37 percent.
  • California, 33 percent.
  • New Jersey, 32 percent.
  • Florida, 28 percent
  • Maryland, 24 percent
  • Massachusetts, 21 percent

Certain specialties also attract more immigrant medical professionals. Of the 910,000 physicians and surgeons in the US, 254,000, nearly a third, are foreign born. Other top specialties for the group are: 

  • Nursing, psychiatric and home health aides, 23.8 percent
  • Registered nurses, 15.8 percent
  • Healthcare technologists and technicians, 12.8 percent
  • Therapists, 10.1 percent

Although healthcare as a sector accounts for just eight percent of total employment nationwide, these jobs are among the fastest-growing, due in part to the aging of the general population, combined with a coming shortage of medical practitioners across all specialties. A report by the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) shows that by 2025, the US will see estimated shortages of between 61,700 and 94,700 physicians, with elderly patients placed at the highest risk for inadequate or inaccessible care. To fill those gaps, the industry is projected to add 2.3 million jobs between 2014 and 2024, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

These figures mean that the medical field is rich in opportunity for those with the right knowledge, skills and passion – no matter your origin of birth. If you’re considering entering medical school, or if you’re already a medical student preparing for your USMLE or COMLEX exams, call 904-209-3140 to learn how WOLFPACC can help assure your success.