Tuesday, November 11, 2008

A Physician in Peru - a non-professional in the U.S.

Skilled Immigrants a "Brain Waste" in California's Workforce
Los Angeles Times
By Teresa Watanabe
November 11, 2008

As a physician in Peru, Luis Garcia amassed nine years of medical education and five years of practice, including successful appendectomies, Cesarean deliveries and other surgeries. Since he immigrated to Southern California four years ago, he has earned a community college degree specializing in geriatrics.

The only work he's been able to find, however, has been cat-sitting, dog-walking and elder care.

That's because Garcia hasn't yet been able to pass the battery of requirements for a U.S. medical license, including several exams and a residency. He represents what a recent report calls a massive "brain waste" of highly educated and skilled immigrant professionals who potentially could, with a little aid, help ease looming labor shortages in California and nationwide in healthcare, computer sciences and other skilled jobs.

"I feel lost," Garcia said. "Sometimes I'm embarrassed to talk to my family back home and tell them I'm taking care of dogs. But I know someday I will be able to do my geriatrics practice, and I know there are people here who need my help."

Nationwide, more than 1.3 million college-educated legal immigrants are unemployed or working in unskilled jobs such as dishwashers or taxi drivers, according to the report by the Washington-based Migration Policy Institute. Nearly one-fourth of them, or 317,000, live in California..

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