I just completed a Master's degree in Canada and have been accepted to a US PhD program beginning this fall as an international student. My Master's degree allows me to work as a healthcare provider.

I'd like to work part-time throughout my degree as I intend to conduct clinical research and also to continue practicing as a healthcare provider after my PhD (not sure if I'm interested in academia). I have no real work experience in the field. My field requires licensing to practice and there is a ton of licensing regulations in the US - especially as an international applicant. I haven't had much luck contacting the license board to gather more information about rules for international applicants. The state license documents are vague and I'm concerned there are requirements I'm unaware of that may block or delay me from practicing in the states.

I considered deferring my program start date to work for a year in my country, since having work experience would smooth the licensing process - the US requires a year of working under supervision before being licensed.

However, at this point I am quite certain it would be too late to request a deferral without ruffling feathers in the department, as I have accepted the offer and funding, and the school year begins soon.

There is an option to take a leave of absence during my program to complete the supervised work requirement. That said, I worry my advisor won't agree to a leave of absence (although my advisor knows of my interest in becoming licensed), as it might negatively impact my research projects.

I've mostly made up my mind to head directly into my PhD program, and try to navigate the (vague and confusing) license requirements once I'm there, thus potentially risking delays in being able to work as a clinician. I think this way I won't damage any departmental relationships and funding possibilities from deferring admission so late in the game. I do have the leave of absence as a possible back-up plan. The department may also help me with the license portion once I'm on campus.

So my questions is: Do you think this sounds like a solid decision, or are there other factors/perspectives that I haven't considered?

Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated!

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    In the normal case of an F1 student visa, you wouldn't be able to work at any off-campus job while studying in the United States. Have you considered this issue? – Brian Borchers Aug 16 '18 at 3:23