Fall 2010 |
Project Bridge Guides Internationally Trained Workers Toward
For years in her native Uzbekistan, Zamira Lostus, M.D., helped
children feel better. When she immigrated to the United States in
1997, her years of medical training were meaningless—being a
doctor in one country does not a U.S. doctor make. Now, at 54, Lostus
is working to move back into the healthcare workforce.
Zamira Lostus, a Uzbek pediatrician who has lived in
the United States for 12 years, hopes to reenter the
healthcare workforce in the United States as a nurse.
"We'll get the LPN. Don't worry, we'll get it." Victoria N.
Nakibuuka-Muli, Project Bridge Program Manager, reassures Lostus
about the path ahead. Nakibuuka-Muli is helping ease Lostus'
way through ESL classes and eventually toward Metropolitan Community
College's (MCC) Licensed Practical Nurse program. After that, Lostus
will work toward her next goal: "I want to work to be a Registered
Nurse," she said.
Project Bridge helps connect immigrants like Lostus to the right
courses and programs to help them reenter the healthcare workforce.
New at MCC, Project Bridge is the only program in Nebraska designed
to boost the number of qualified, minority healthcare workers in the
Midwest by guiding internationally trained healthcare workers toward
the right U.S. credentials.
By attracting, supporting and training underemployed immigrants
with medical training, the program helps close the cultural and
linguistic gap between patients and their doctors, helping to improve
important aspects of care. For each person, the plan is different:
Younger immigrants may be able to go through medical school and
residency to become U.S. doctors. In Lostus' case, approaching a
two-year nursing program made the most sense.
"Zamira is a perfect bridge for families who speak Uzbek or
Russian. Other doctors might not have that ability," Nakibuuka-Muli
said. "In the workforce, we can eliminate a language disparity."
Twenty-one individuals have connected with the program since its
inception in March. In a few years, the program will ease more
healthcare professionals into the workforce to better represent the
region's diverse population.
By helping to promote diversity, Project Bridge will create a
Midwest hub in Omaha for internationally trained healthcare workers,
increasing the ethnic and economic diversity in the city by
attracting highly competent, qualified and diverse individuals from
around the world.
"When we hurt, we all hurt the same way; when we are sick, we are
all sick the same way," Nakibuuka-Muli said. "It's up to healthcare
practitioners to interpret symptoms and treat all patients."
Project Bridge is a community impact initiative of United Way of
the Midlands and is also supported by MCC, client fees and private
donations. For more information about Project Bridge, call (402)
738-4794 or email
How You Can Help
Many Project Bridge students are in need of scholarships to help
cover the costs of education, licenses and certificates. To learn more
about how to help, call (402) 738-4794 or email