Structural embedding of extra educational needs for settled refugees

10 June 2024

Educational project

Structural embedding of extra educational needs for settled refugees

The Faculty of Medicine’s Bridge program helps refugee healthcare professionals integrate into the Dutch system through medical language lessons, Dutch healthcare curriculum, and networking opportunities. Aimed at addressing workforce shortages and enhancing diversity, the program has high demand and limited placements. Initial pilot evaluations have refined the program for 2024, with plans for scalability and collaboration with other institutions.


The Faculty of Medicine’s bridge program (in Dutch) for refugees was created in response to the Ukraine war in 2022. Ukrainian students sought to continue their studies at our University, leading to a program for all refugees with medical backgrounds. Pilots in 2022 and 2023 attracted over a hundred applicants for nine placements. After a comprehensive evaluation, a renewed program is set to begin in April 2024, with evaluation in October 2024. This unique program addresses healthcare workforce shortages and societal needs, offering medical language lessons, a Dutch healthcare curriculum, networking opportunities, and practical experience.

Project description

This project wants to address workforce diversity and simultaneously find a solution to the understaffing of the healthcare sector in The Netherlands. The objective is to evaluate the 2024 iteration, refine it, identify scalability avenues, and foster collaboration with other healthcare institutions.

It will be carried out with the following steps:

  1. Scope and Objectives (Nov ’24): Define the project’s scope and objectives.
  2. Data Collection (Nov ’24 – Mar ’25): Gather and process quantitative and qualitative data.
  3. Cost-Consequence Analysis (Jan – Mar ’25): Conduct a cost-consequence analysis and risk assessment.
  4. Whitepaper Development (Jan – Mar ’25): Develop a whitepaper summarizing findings.
  5. Insights and Whitepaper Delivery (Mar – Jun ’25): Deliver an overview of insights and the completed whitepaper.
  6. Implementation Plan (Jun – Jul ’25): Develop an implementation plan and provide best practices for other organizations.


The project aims to create a sustainable program, validate its value, and explore scalability, aligning with UMC Utrecht’s goals for diversity, inclusion, and societal advancement. Our long-term vision involves institutionalizing the program as a gateway for settling students and professionals in Dutch healthcare.

UMC Utrecht/Utrecht University aims to lead in implementing this innovative approach. Business and investment strategies are needed to substantiate and promote the program.


The project will integrate 3-4 participants per program into UMC Utrecht’s workforce and benefit 60-80 colleagues annually through intercultural training. High demand exists, with registrations for three annual iterations but funding for one. The program aligns with Diversity & Inclusion goals, filling vacancies and enhancing integration for refugees. It also increases organisational diversity and fosters intercultural learning, serving as a model for other healthcare organisations.


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