New Research Shows Immigrants Account for Nearly 13 Percent of Utah Physicians as Demand for Bilingual Workers Jumps 38.8 Percent

The American Immigration Council report underscores the key role immigrants play in Utah’s healthcare workforce


February 7, 2023
Last modified: 
February 7, 2023

WASHINGTON, DC, Feb.7—The American Immigration Council released new research, The Growing Demand for Healthcare Workers in Utah, which underscores the crucial role immigrants play in some of the state’s fastest growing and most in demand healthcare fields.

"Utah recognizes the incredible contributions of our immigrant communities, as evidenced by the work at the Utah Immigration Assistance Center at the Governor's Office of Economic Opportunity," said Ryan Starks, executive director of the Economic Opportunity office. "As a state and across agencies, we're working to maximize the talents and contributions of New Americans. This report highlights the opportunities to make strategic priorities in policy and practice to reduce brain waste and increase healthcare professionals' pathways to work in Utah." 

"It is essential to support and encourage international talent in the healthcare sector, as this can help bridge the gap in the shortage of qualified professionals,” said Dr. Gracelyn Brito, President & Co-Founder of the Utah Hispanic Dental Association. “By welcoming diversity, we can improve the quality of healthcare services and address disparities in underserved communities. It's up to leaders to create a welcoming environment for international professionals and eliminate any obstacles that prevent them from contributing to the healthcare system. As an Internationally trained Dentist myself I believe we have skillsets that can give back to our community and eradicate this raising problem."

“As communities across Utah, and across the nation, continue to face gaps in care due to healthcare worker shortages, many immigrants who have received specialized education, licensing, and training internationally that would qualify them to help meet these needs today are instead facing barriers that keep them on the sidelines,” said Leani García Torres, Chief of Staff at the American Immigration Council. “Innovative policies that attract and retain talent and create career pathways for internationally trained healthcare professionals can help Utah address growing healthcare needs, especially in rural counties, and ensure all residents have access to quality care.” 

Key findings of the report include:

  • Despite an overall decline in the total of number of jobs in Utah’s healthcare industry due to, in part, the devastating economic reverberations of the COVID-19 pandemic to key industries, the state has seen a dramatic increase in job postings for healthcare workers, across a variety of healthcare fields. Between 2017 and 2021, Utah saw an increase in the number of online job postings for dental hygienists (291.4 percent), psychiatric technicians (89.7 percent), and dentists (32.2 percent).

  • Immigrants punch above their weight, helping to strengthen the Utah healthcare workforce across the skills spectrum. In 2019, immigrants in Utah comprised 8.5 percent of the population, but 12.5 percent of physicians, 7.8 percent of pharmacy technicians, and 5.0 percent of dental hygienists.   

  • Demand for bilingual healthcare workers in Utah is on the rise. From 2017 to 2021, the number of healthcare job postings that required bilingual skills increased by 38.8 percent. Immigrants can help contribute to the growing multilingual and cultural competency needs in the healthcare workforce.

  • Although there is a growing need for healthcare workers in Utah, many immigrants who received specialized training abroad cannot practice in the state. In 2021, 32.8 percent of immigrants with healthcare-related professional and doctorate degrees were working in a healthcare occupation that did not require one.


For more information, contact:

Brianna Dimas at the American Immigration Council, [email protected] or 202-507-7557.


About the American Immigration Council

The American Immigration Council is a powerful voice in promoting laws, policies, and attitudes that honor America’s proud history as a nation of immigrants. Through research and policy analysis, litigation and international exchange, the Council seeks to shape a twenty-first century vision of the American immigrant experience. In January 2022, the Council and New American Economy merged to combine a broad suite of advocacy tools to better expand and protect the rights of immigrants, more fully ensure immigrants’ ability to succeed economically, and help make the communities they settle in more welcoming. Follow the latest Council news and information on and Twitter @immcouncil.

Media Contact

Elyssa Pachico
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