After COVID Job Loss, PS&D Helps Physician Return to U.S.

Recruiters collaborate to find a new opportunity for Canadian-born doctor.

For Dr. Adrian Dryden, COVID meant more than learning new protocols and wearing extra PPE. It upended his life, starting with a job loss and ending with him having to return to Canada, where he grew up.

“I was only one-and-a-half years into a five-year contract, and my clinic let several of us go for financial reasons,” says Dr. Dryden, a Family Medicine physician who was working in Oregon on a J-1 Visa Waiver. “Suddenly, I was in a scramble to stay in the country, because if you didn’t find a new job in 60 days, you would have to go back home. My stress level was significant.”

He reached out to Provider Solutions & Development and worked with two physician recruiters to explore his options in the Pacific Northwest. Through collaboration and networking, PS&D was able to help Dr. Dryden return to a physician role, this time in Washington.

Senior Recruiter Mark Rearrick, well-versed in helping physicians navigate the work visa process, asked Dr. Dryden if he’d consider Spokane’s Providence Medical Group-North Pines site, known throughout the Providence health system as an “innovation clinic.”

After several virtual interviews, Dr. Dryden decided to go for it. Today, he says he’s grateful for a recruiter who became his advocate, encouraging him to take a chance on the unknown.

“I think what helped all this come together the way it did is that Mark and Robyn got to know me."

“Mark was so great to talk to,” Dr. Dryden says. “He was extremely knowledgeable about the physician work visa process, and he connected me with lawyers who helped me get my H-1B Visa and return to the U.S. Mark knew what to do every step of the way.”

Dr. Dryden also worked with PS&D Physician Recruiter Robyn Pryor.

“I appreciated Robyn so much, because even though she was unable to find me a position, she didn’t give up,” he says. “She put me in touch with her colleague, Mark, who ultimately helped me find an amazing job in a great community. I don’t know what I would have done without them.”

A Perilous Situation

Dr. Dryden was not alone in his pandemic journey. According to a 2020 Physicians Foundation study 43% of physicians saw their staff reduced due to COVID-19, and 72% experienced a reduction in income.

For physicians working on visas, their environment was even more perilous, as they worried about downsizing, furloughs and layoffs that would mean they’d have to leave the country.

To make matters worse, about a month before Dr. Dryden was laid off, his wife lost her job at a weather forecasting company. Both jobless, it was a matter of time before they had to return to Canada, where Dr. Dryden says their mental health began to suffer.

“I went from working fulltime and seeing patients every day to not doing anything,” he says. “I lost my sense of purpose. When that was gone, it left this void. I really didn’t know how to fill it. My days seemed pointless. Every day, I’d wake up, and I felt like, I don’t have anything to do today. With the pandemic, I couldn’t see people. I couldn’t see my grandparents. I rarely saw my parents or friends. Meanwhile, I was still paying rent on my house in Oregon and all my stuff was there, because I thought I would get a job soon. I was hemorrhaging money.”

Dr. Dryden’s conversations with Mark seemed like a light at the end of a dark tunnel. He still remembers the day he received his paperwork.

“All I could think about was, ‘When am I going to get back into the country?’” he says. Every day I was checking my email, hoping to see something positive. A week after New Year’s, I got the email from my lawyer saying she was going to courier my documentation to me. I got ready to cross the border.”

Dr. Dryden and his wife nervously packed and got ready to make the drive from Saskatchewan, Canada, to Washington. It was January, and it was snowing. They bought chains for their car and approached the border with butterflies in their stomachs. They had the right documentation but still, he knew anything could happen.

A New Life

After they made it through with no issues, Dr. Dryden says he breathed a sigh of relief, knowing a new life awaited him.

Now, seven months into his new job in Spokane, he’s on an H-1B Visa, and his employer is sponsoring him and his wife to get their green cards. Spokane feels like a perfect fit, with its golf courses, large urban center, microbrew scene and mild weather. Dr. Dryden and his wife just bought their first house, and his wife’s parents are planning to move from Canada to live near them.

Dr. Dryden has taken over a recently retired physician’s patient panel as he builds his own base of new patients, learning more every day and enjoying his work culture, where, for the first time as a physician, he says he feels like he has a voice.

“I think what helped all this come together the way it did is that Mark and Robyn got to know me,” he says. “They knew about my professional goals. They knew what kind of work culture I wanted. They knew I brewed craft beer and played golf in my spare time. And they helped me navigate the incredibly complex process of immigration. I wouldn’t wish my experience on anyone, but I’m pretty grateful for how it all turned out.”

For Mark, the end result was gratifying.

“This was a hire that brought great satisfaction,” Mark says. “It was an opportunity for all of us to win — PS&D as an organization, Dr. Dryden, who got to stay in the U.S., and his patients, who will now receive good quality healthcare.”

Physician Work Visas

PS&D hires for roles that are open to doctors working under the following work visas:

J-1 Visa: The J-1 Exchange Visitor Visa program allows foreign nationals to come to the U.S. for a temporary period for a wide variety of educational purposes. After finishing their education, physicians can then apply for a J-1 Visa Waiver, which allows foreign nationals to remain in the U.S. and work for a period of three years in designated, underserved areas.

H-1B Visa: H-1B Visas are non-immigrant visas that allow for the temporary employment of professional foreign nationals with a minimum of a bachelor’s degree in a specialty field. Foreign medical graduates may be admitted into the U.S. with an H-1B to engage in direct patient care or as part of a medical training program or to teach or conduct research for a sponsoring employer.

Reach out today to learn more about Primary Care positions in Spokane and positions across the PS&D network that are open to accepting candidates needing J-1 Visa Waivers and H-1B Visas.