For over 10 years now, the U.S. has been facing a nursing shortage. Staff hospitals and nursing homes have a low patient-nurse ratio, which has given rise to various complications. Even though several retired nurses have returned to hospitals during the recent recession, close to 100,000 positions remain unfilled. Given this fact, plans are afoot to increase the supply of nurses to meet the demand. These plans include importing qualified nurses from other countries. However, importing nurses from other countries to work in the United States has its pros and cons
Pros Of Recruiting Foreign Nurses
The following are some of the acknowledged advantages of recruiting foreign nurses.
Foreign Nurses Are Better Trained In Patient Care
Foreign nurses from certain countries are better trained than nurses within the US. Bringing these foreign nurses in will act as an inspiration to up the nursing training and quality of care in the United States.
Foreign Nurses Are Willing To Work Harder
Foreign nurses, especially those from developing countries demonstrate willingness to work in the US, given the fact that they’ll earn more in the US than in their own countries.
Foreign Nurses Bring In Cultural Infusion
Foreign nurses bring varied cultural viewpoints to the workplace, which works to bring in cultural fusion, better suited to treating people from different cultures.
Foreign Nurses Are Useful For Long-Term Care
Recruiting foreign nurses is advantageous for the US since all foreign nurses have to go through an “attestation” process that ensures minimum stay at employing hospital. This clause is stipulated in the Immigration Nursing Relief Act. Foreign nurses are useful in the care of long-term patients as they’re not free to leave their jobs and go before the stipulated period is over.
Foreign Nurses Make Great Team Assets
Foreign nurses, especially those from developing countries, know that a job opportunity in the US is a godsend in terms of money, facilities, infrastructure, lifestyle and liberty. They bring in their gratitude and other positive attitudes to the workplace with them, which helps boost morale and teamwork tremendously. These nurses also know that their future in the US depends entirely on their performance and ability to integrate themselves. They put in the extra effort to ensure their stay. This effort helps in patient care and hospital performance statistics as well, bringing a positive spin to recruiting foreign nurses.
Hiring Foreign Nurses is a great temporary solution to Nursing Shortage
The current nursing shortage facing the US can be resolved in time and the government is taking many steps to find solutions. In the meanwhile, hiring ready to deploy and fully qualified foreign nurses can help temporarily bridge the nursing shortage until the situation is in better control. Foreign nurses cannot stay in the US beyond their three-year H1 visa unless issued a green card. This gives the US government great control over how many nurses to retain eventually, whom to retain and whom to send back.
Cons Of Recruiting Foreign Nurses
Though there are many advantages to hiring nurses from foreign countries, neither the process nor the experience is devoid of very specific disadvantages. Some of these disadvantages are detailed below.
Existing Nurses’ Working Condition Stays Unimproved
The opinion is that the nursing staffing shortage can be addressed adequately by offering better working conditions and wages to qualified nurses in the country, enticing them to take up employment. Importing foreign nurses will only further reduce incentives for existing nurses. Nursing wages have increased in some regions but have reached a flat plateau in several others. Close to 500,000 RNs chose not to practice their profession at present. This number is a fifth of the current 2.5 million RN workforce.
Hiring Foreign Nurses Discourages People From Taking Up Nursing
The idea behind importing foreign nurses is to temporarily fix the nursing shortage while in-house nurses are trained and deployed. However, nearly 50,000 qualified applicants are rejected from training programs each year due to insufficient teaching staff. The popular consensus is that the US doesn’t need more immigrated nurses; it needs to grow its own workforce and increase nurse-training capacity.
Foreign Nurses Don’t Speak American English
Nurses born and educated in non-English speaking countries are hard for patients to understand. Elderly patients and those with hearing issues find it very difficult to comprehend what a foreign nurse is saying, which can lead to miscommunication and misunderstandings.
Foreign Nurses Are Not Trained For US Hospitals
Foreign nurses are trained in different nursing procedures. Their understanding of medications, values, measurement systems and patient handling are not the same.
Foreign Nurses Are Not Trained To Handle US Patients
In the US, people are more conscious of their fundamental rights than in other countries; this gives cause to a higher degree of litigious behavior. Nurses trained in other countries are not oriented towards their limits when it comes to patient handling, which is a huge con.
Foreign Nurses Are Not Trained For The US Market
Notwithstanding the country of origin, foreign educated nurses are trained for the US market. The educational backgrounds of foreign educated nurses vary, in terms of curriculum and program length. All foreign nurses have to clear the NCLEX exam to practice as an RN in the U.S. Nursing education programs vary throughout the world. In some countries, the education imparted to RNs is equivalent only to that of a practical (LPN/LVN) nurse in the U.S, rather than an RN.
It Takes Time To Deploy Foreign Nurses
It takes anywhere from 6 months to two years to import a foreign nurse and him or her ready for deployment. There are several steps to the immigration process, that include obtaining an occupational visa to enter the U.S. Foreign nurses also need to get their licensure and education documents reviewed by the Commission on Graduates of Foreign Nursing Schools (CGFNS), before they can immigrate to the US. The CGFNS ensures that the foreign nurse’s education is comparable to that of nursing education in the US.