Helping new immigrants restart old careers

    Like many Americans, some new immigrants have to settle for “just-a-job” before they can get a toehold on the career they love. An area group is hosting information sessions for immigrants trying to restart the professional lives they began in their native country. Amanda Bergson-Shilcock, outreach director for the Welcoming Center for New Pennsylvanians, said the Philadelphia region is nationally known for it health-care jobs. She said the area is a great place for underutilized immigrants who are trained and highly educated. “So we have seen people who, for example, came as a cardiologist from Ukraine but ended up working in a cashier position,” she said. “Or we had an obstetrician gynecologist from Haiti who was working in a car wash. After he came to us we placed him immediately in a job as a lab technician, so he could begin working in a health-care environment.” A workshop Monday is geared for doctors, nurses and other health-care workers authorized to work in the United States. A session on is set for engineering professionals. Bergson-Shilcock said attendees will get standard information on licensing exams and preparing a resume as well as advice about entering professional life in the United States. “While clinical skills and interpersonal skills very often carry over well, there’s also medical vocabulary, technical terms and cultural practices in the workplace that may be very different,” she said. Moussa Djabri led his own dental practice in Algeria for 10 years before bringing his wife and two children to the United States. Employed with an auto parts factory, he has already worked his way up from line worker to supervisor. That job feeds Djabri’s family, but his ultimate goal is to return to dentistry. “You can’t just stay here and study English and do nothing, because you have bills to pay. But I’m very, very interested in continuing my specialty,” Djabri said. Four years of his past training and education translate to the U.S. market. Djabri will need another two years of dentistry study here before he can return to full practice.


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