Background: Research on the international recruitment of health professionals to the U.S. has focused almost exclusively on physicians and nurses; we are aware of no research on the migration of allied health professionals.
Objective: We examined the strengths and weaknesses of various public and private data sources on foreign-educated allied health professions in the U.S. and patched together a picture of these migrants. We focus on pharmacists, physical therapists (PTs), occupational therapists (OTs), speech language pathologists (SLPs), and medical and clinical laboratory technicians (lab techs).
Findings: Based on the American Community Survey, we found that 12% of PTs, 12% of lab techs, 8% of pharmacists, 4% of OTs, and 3% of SLPs are foreign-born and entered the U.S. at age 21 or older. Among foreign-born PTs, about half remain as non-citizens, suggesting the highest proportion of recent arrivals among the five professions.
Conclusions: As Congress debates comprehensive immigration reform, one of the much need changes to the system is better immigration data, disaggregated by occupation.