"Josephine Ciin, 34, was a nurse employed at a private hospital in Myanmar before she fled her war-torn country in 2003 to seek refuge in Malaysia. When she finally resettled in the United States — she and her family arrived as refugees in Des Moines, Iowa, in 2008 — the only job she could find was working in a sushi restaurant.
Puspa Adhikari, 26, of Bhutan, spent 18 years of his life in a refugee camp in Nepal, where he received most of his schooling. Against all odds, he managed to complete three years of college in North Bengal, India, where he majored in metaphysics and chemistry, hoping someday to enter a health care profession in the United States. But after relocating first to Kathmandu, Nepal, and then, in 2009, to Des Moines, he found himself employed at Walmart instead.
Today, thanks to Pathways to Health Care Careers/Iowa, Ciin is a nursing assistant and Adhikari is an emergency medical technician looking towards a future as a paramedic. Pathways is a collaborative effort between the Iowa Department of Workforce Development, the Iowa Bureau of Refugee Services and Mercy College of Health Sciences — a wholly owned subsidiary of Mercy Medical Center – Des Moines — as well as a number of health care employer partners.
"This is an innovative approach to meeting the staffing needs of the state's health care sector while simultaneously opening high-potential career paths to our newest Iowans," says Kim Oswald, Pathways program manager. "Many people are amazed at how diverse our Midwestern population has become. Church-based programs have welcomed a huge influx of refugees to our area; we have 39 nationalities represented in our program, mainly from African, Central American and Asian countries."
Excerpt from Catholic Health World December 15 issue.