Prevalence and Characteristics of Non-US-Born and US-Born Health Care Professionals, 2010-2018

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Importance: Immigration to the US results in greater racial/ethnic diversity. However, the contribution of immigration to the diversity of the US health care professional (HCP) work force and its contribution to health care are poorly documented. Objective: To examine the sociodemographic characteristics and workforce outcomes of non-US-born and US-born HCPs. Design, Setting, and Participants: This cross-sectional study used national US Census Bureau data on US-born and non-US-born HCPs from the American Community Survey between 2010 and 2018. Demographic characteristics and occupational data for physicians, advanced practice registered nurses, physician assistants, registered nurses, licensed practical nurses or licensed vocational nurses, and other HCPs were included for analysis. Data were analyzed between December 2020 and February 2021. Exposures: Nativity status, defined as US-born HCP vs non-US-born HCP (further stratified by <10 years or ≥10 years of stay in the US). Main Outcomes and Measures: Annual hours worked, proportion of work done at night, residence in medically underserved areas and populations, and work in skilled nursing/home health settings. Inverse probability weighting of 3 nativity status groups was carried out using logistic regression. F test statistics were used to test across-group differences. Data were weighted using American Community Survey sampling weights. Results: Of a total of 657455 HCPs analyzed (497180 [75.5%] women; mean [SD] age, 43.7 [13.0] years; 518317 [75.6%] White, 54233 [10.8%] Black, and 60680 [9.6%] Asian), non-US-born HCPs (105331 in total) represented 17.3% (95% CI, 17.2%-17.4%) of HCPs between 2010 and 2018. They were older (mean [SD] age, 44.7 [11.6] years) and had more education (75227 [70.1%] HCPs completed college) compared with US-born HCPs (mean [SD] age, 43.4 [13.3] years; 304601 [55.2%] completed college). Nearly half of non-US-born HCPs (47735 [43.0%]) were Asian. In major metropolitan areas, non-US-born HCPs represented 40% or more of all HCPs. Compared with US-born HCPs, non-US-born HCPs with less than 10 years and 10 or more years of stay worked 32.3 hours (95% CI, 19.2 to 45.4 hours) and 71.6 hours (95% CI, 65.1 to 78.2 hours) more per year, respectively. Compared with US-born HCPs, non-US-born HCPs were more likely to reside in areas with shortages of health care professionals (estimated percentage: <10 years, 75.3%; ≥10 years, 62.8% vs US-born, 8.3%) and work in home health settings (estimated percentage: <10 years, 17.5%; ≥10 years, 13.1% vs US-born, 12.8%). Conclusions and Relevance: The contributions of non-US-born HCPs to US health care are substantial and vary by profession. Greater efforts should be made to streamline their immigration process and to harmonize training and licensure requirements.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere218396
JournalJAMA Network Open
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 29 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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