CBS Highlights IIMG Program, April 19, 2016

New Program Helps Break Barriers in Minnesota Health Care


MDH Announces Start of Immigrant International Medical Graduate Program

News Release
April 19, 2016

Contact information

Immigrant physicians advance through unique Minnesota program

Minnesota’s first-in-the-nation program has resulted in two immigrant physicians securing positions in the University of Minnesota Pediatrics Residency Program.

Established by the 2015 legislature, the International Medical Graduate (IMG) Assistance Program is the first state-level effort in the country that supports pathways to licensure for immigrant and refugee physicians. Funded through the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH), the program’s ultimate goal is to increase Minnesotans’ access to primary care and eliminate health disparities. The continuum of services provided through grant funding includes career navigation, foundational skill building, clinical preparation and residency positions. Program staff and stakeholders are also developing a process for assessing and certifying the clinical readiness of international medical graduates for residency. The program recently submitted its first year report to the Minnesota Legislature, which can be found at International Medical Graduate Assistance Program.

The University of Minnesota Pediatrics Residency Program successfully applied for an MDH grant that funds one residency position for an immigrant physician. However, due to the qualifications of the applicants, the residency program selected two candidates, Hager Mohammed and Sahar Ahmed.

“We are very excited to work alongside these qualified physicians and prepare them to be pediatricians who will no doubt have a huge impact in the state,” said Dr. Mike Pitt, associate residency program director at the University of Minnesota Children’s Hospital.

Mohammed and Ahmed were both physicians in their home country of Sudan. When circumstances unexpectedly relocated them to Minnesota, they looked forward to becoming part of Minnesota’s physician workforce. However, their paths to becoming U.S. doctors were blocked until the recent opportunity provided by MDH and the University of Minnesota Pediatrics Residency Program.

Minnesota is home to an estimated 250 to 400 immigrant physicians who face significant barriers to entering medical practice, such as securing a medical residency, which is a necessary licensing step. Many residency programs require U.S.-based clinical experience and recent graduation from medical school, which effectively disqualifies immigrant physicians with extensive experience.

Ensuring that well-qualified physicians are able to enter the workforce is important for a variety of reasons. While Minnesota’s growing population is becoming increasingly diverse, the state’s primary care workforce is not keeping pace. At the same time, MDH projects Minnesota will experience a shortage of primary care providers in the next decade. In addition, Minnesota has among the worst health disparities in the nation, with people of color and immigrant populations experiencing poorer health outcomes and poorer general health than white Minnesotans.

Studies suggest that greater diversity in the health workforce leads to improved clinical outcomes for minorities and immigrant populations. One strategy to increase both the number and diversity of primary care providers is to integrate people trained as physicians in other countries into medical practice or alternate health professions in Minnesota.

“Studies suggest that a more diverse workforce leads to better outcomes for patients,” said Commissioner of Health Dr. Ed Ehlinger. “The talents of these uniquely qualified professionals can help Minnesota address our workforce shortage and health disparities.”


Media inquiries:Scott Smith
MDH Communications

IIMG Bill Becomes Law – May 22, 2015

This morning (May 22nd) Governor Dayton signed into law the omnibus Health and Human Services Finance bill. Chapter 71, SF 1458: This bill passed 71-57 in the House and 57-8 in the Senate.

This bill allocates $1 million/year to help IIMG’s become licensed physicians in Minnesota. The funds and the programs will be managed by the Minnesota Department of Health with NAAD and WISE collaborating.

Please thank Senator Tony Lourey, Senate Author @ 651-296-0293; and House Author Matt Dean @ 651-296-4028; and, of course, Governor Mark Dayton @

Legislative Assistant: Patricia Rooney (651) 296-029

MN State Legislature Passes IIMG Bill

Congratulations and thank you for all the hard work in getting our bill to pass. Special thanks to Mark Schoenbaum and Darcy Dungan-Seaver from MDH and former House Representative Jim Abeler for their hours and hours of work and unfailing support. 

Health care workforce—The final HHS budget bill included an increase of $5.2 million for loan forgiveness programs in 2016 and 2017 for physicians and other health care providers who serve in rural and under-served urban settings. In addition, legislators allocated $1 million per year to fund programs to prepare foreign trained physicians for residency programs or to practice in another health care profession, and there is $1.5 million for additional residency programs. Also included in the budget proposal was language and funding intended to better utilize the skills of foreign-trained immigrant and asylee physicians.

For further information on the Health and Human Services Bill, please see the above link.


For further information, please visit

IIMG Bill Passes both MN House and Senate 4-14-2015

On April 14, 2015, the Immigrant International Medical Graduate Bills passed in the MN Senate today. Senate bill #1049 was passed by the Finance Committee without objection. Legislative House Bill #1277 passed last week also  without opposition. Now these will be put into Senate and House Health Omnibus Bills within which they will be assigned dollars – or not. There are not enough words to thank Yende Anderson, JD, Executive Director of NAAD, Mark Schoenbaum, MN Department of Rural Health, and Jim Aberler, MN Legislative Consultant and former Legislator for their tireless and time intensive work to bring these bills into the legislature and through the committees. Those of us who could attend these meetings can attest to their efforts. Many thanks also to Edwin Bogonko, MD, Darcy Dungan-Seaver, MDH, and Mimi Oo and all the others who wrote documents and testified. This is the culmination of ten years work by AAFACD founder, Dr. Wilhelmina Holder, NAAD and WISE.

IIMG Bill passes first two Committes; To be heard by House an Senate Finance Committees

The IIMG Bill, noted in the previous post has navigated the Health and Human Resources Committees and the Operations Committees in both the MN House and the Senate. They were not contested and have remained intact. Within the next two weeks they will be heard by the Finance Committees, at which time funding will be allocated (or not) and they will then proceed to the Governor’s office for signature. This is a critical time. The Legislative Houses are very busy and funding is tight. Please write to members of the committees. Form letters for you to use or modify, or change to your liking are given here, as are the committee members. Remember, family and community members are encouraged to write. If a Committee Member is from your district, please let them know you are a constituent. Thank you.

Letter to Finance Committe – Senate

Letter to Finance Committee – Leg

IIMG House and Senate Bills Introduced to MN Legislature

Bills have been introduced into MN House (#1277) and Senate (#1049) to aid Immigrant International Medical Graduates (IIMGs). They both have Republican and DFL sponsors and are labeled bipartisan. The work before us now is to keep calling out legislators to support these bills and appear before the legislature when they come to conference and a vote. This is a most exciting and hopeful time.

Full Text:

Senate Bill #1049:

Bill Title: International medical graduates council creation and appropriation

Creating and providing for the council on international medical graduates toaddress barriers to practice and facilitate pathways to assist immigrantinternational medical graduates to integrate into the state health care deliverysystem; appropriating money to the commissioner of health (MDH.


Name Type
Senator Jeff Hayden [D] Primary
Senator John Marty [D] Cosponsor
Senator Greg Clausen [D] Cosponsor
Senator Sandra Pappas [D]

House Bill # 1277

Bill Title: Council on International Medical Graduates created, and money appropriated.

Representative Glenn Gruenhagen [R] Primary
Representative Rena Moran [D] Cosponsor
Representative Joe Schomacker [R] Cosponsor
Representative Bud Nornes [R] Cosponsor
Representative Diane Loeffler [D] Cosponsor
Representative Sandra Masin [D] Cosponsor