Jose Ramon Fernandez-Pena to be honored for contributions to health

The senior fellow at the Center for the Health Professions at UC San Francisco, who’s also a professor of health education at San Francisco State University and the founder and executive director of the Welcome Back Initiative, will be honored with a $25,000 Champion of Health Professions Diversity Award from the California Wellness Foundation in Los Angeles on June 1.

What type of work have you done to receive this award? I have been working for the past 10 years in launching WBI. The program works with immigrants to come back into the [U.S.] health care workforce.

Why is it so difficult for foreign-trained health professionals to get licensed and employed in the U.S.? On one hand, the process is complicated and not well-explained. They can’t get all the information in one place. On the other hand, many of them don’t have a lot of money and so are working numerous jobs and it’s hard for them to give one of these up to take exams or courses.

How does WBI make it easier? The service is free and gives them the latest and clearest information. We have all the materials for exams, can help them find alternate options and give help on what the process for licensure is. Essentially, we save them time and effort.

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