Refugee Research

Alyssa Benjamin Pre-Health Semester in London, England


March 1, 2016

When I came to London I was looking for a volunteer opportunity. I really wanted to get a feel for the community. The things I am learning in the classroom are invaluable but the great thing about London is getting is everything you can learn from the city. Working with one of my professors, John Eversley, I have started a research project concentrating on refugee doctors. When doctors leave their home countries due to extenuating circumstances they are not automatically able to practice in the country in which they have sought asylum. The road to practicing again is a long one involving difficult language, clinical skills test, and a number of other complicated steps. The refugee crisis has been front and center in international news. With all this attention Professor Eversley and his many colleagues have decided to look into to amount of doctors seeking licensing and how the current system is working. Doctors who do eventually practice in the UK serve as a valuable asset to the NHS bringing both clinical and cultural experience to England’s publicly funded healthcare system. I am working as a liaison gathering information and statistics that might be useful for future grant proposals and government measures.

As a future health professional this project has captured my attention and my heart. I have been traveling all over London to meet with representatives of refugee organizations such as RAGU, Refugee Council, and Refugee Women’s Association. The women I have met with have all share a passion and a common goal. Their clients, be they health professionals or not, have been through a lot. These women hope to help these refugees find a home in London and eventually help them to give back to the community. The process of becoming a doctor in the UK is a difficult one. Many of these refugees come with baggage and have had to leave behind their family and their career. In my opinion the structure of the IELTS (English language test) delays and actually hinders the process of producing successful refugee doctors. While doctors wait to pass the test, their clinical knowledge withers away. I am hoping that my small research contribution along with countless others who have dedicated their lives to this cause will help to create a better system. I am so excited to be working on this project and can’t wait for what is to come.