When we Hire Foreign Nurses do their Nations Lose Talent?


MINNEAPOLIS --  Hiring of foreign-trained nurses may help alleviate our nursing shortage, but in a world where basic health care is in short supply in many nations, the practice troubles some people.

"The biggest issue may be an ethical one. On the other hand, America has historically welcomed people who want to work here and use their skills to better their lives." one medical staffing expert said.

"At the end of the day, the ethics rest with each individual," he said. "Each individual has the right to choose where they want to live and where they want to work. What we want to do is have as many nurses as possible by making nursing as attractive as possible."

Another said, "Nursing is increasingly part of the global labor market. There are foreign-trained nurses working everywhere."

Still another felt compassion, "I support giving foreign-trained nurses the opportunity to gain work experience that they may be able to take back to their countries of origin." she added, "Our world is so much smaller these days."

"Some hospitals have chosen not to hire foreign-trained nurses because of the ethical issues they perceive. Others hire foreign-trained nurses who obtained green cards on their own, but decline to sponsor them or use international staffing firms to find them," said a nurse recruiter, "we do not want to intentionally draw nurses from countries that need them," she said.

She said the growing need for nurses, however, is causing some hospitals to revisit the idea of hiring foreign nurses through staffing companies. "We're currently considering bringing in three or four companies to hear their presentation on how they recruit nurses."

Still another noted that, "nurses unions fear that hiring too many foreign nurses could eventually drive down wages for American-trained nurses. They feel that more resources need to be committed to retain existing nurses and expand nursing education to make sure that anyone who wants to be a nurse can become one."

This is not just an issue here in the U.S., but a global one as well.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the health arm of the United Nations, too many qualified nurses are leaving their own countries, and this is creating a "brain drain" where they are most needed.

WHO recently issued a report stating "with a shortfall of 4.3 million health workers worldwide, including more than 1 million in Africa alone, there is an urgent need to increase the number of doctors, nurses, health managers and other health care workers needed to face immediate health crises."

In 2006, WHO brought this crisis to the world's attention, "fifty-seven countries have critical shortages of health workers, and 36 of these are in sub-Saharan Africa. If the crisis is not tackled, these countries will not be able to provide their population with basic health care."

“HIV/AIDS, malaria and TB, and maternal and child mortality – which together kill many millions of people annually across the world, will not be significantly reduced unless the crisis in health workers is tackled,” said Lord Crisp, Chairman of the global task force, “There is an urgent need for a massive international effort to train more health care workers, including doctors, nurses, managers and community health workers.”


Articles in this issue:


  • Masthead

    Editor-in Chief:
    Kirsten Nicole

    Editorial Staff:
    Kirsten Nicole
    Stan Kenyon
    Robyn Bowman
    Kimberly McNabb
    Lisa Gordon
    Stephanie Robinson

    Kirsten Nicole
    Stan Kenyon
    Liz Di Bernardo
    Cris Lobato
    Elisa Howard
    Susan Cramer

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