Recruitment of Foreign Nurses to Alleviate the United States Nursing Shortage

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Recruitment of Foreign Nurses to Alleviate the United States Nursing Shortage

Recruitment of Foreign Nurses to Alleviate the United States Nursing ShortageSince the 1950s, the United States has depended heavily on recruitment of foreign educated nurses (FEN’s) – or the updated term internationally educated nurses (IEN’s) — as a remedy to alleviate staffing shortages within American healthcare facilities. While this recruitment has made a significant difference in addressing these shortages, it has also raised significant concerns about the impact of this trend on the quality of nursing care and the implications for healthcare systems in America as well as in the countries from which these nurses have been recruited. Some of these concerns include the disparity of language competencies and various cultural differences among these nurses and the effect of these issues on the quality of health care delivery; the brain-drain that results from the depletion of highly educated nurses from developing countries; and the disincentive to U.S. health care professionals and public policy experts to create programs and financial incentives to attract more U.S. nationals into the nursing profession. These and other issues have led to serious concern about the efficacy of the continued recruitment of FEN’s and IEN’s as their recruitment is inadequate as a long term solution to America’s nursing shortage and must be seen as such so that more effective long term strategies can be identified and implemented. Slote (2011) stated “the reliance on foreign nurses is symptomatic of ineffective policies in industrialized countries such as the United States and represents the failure of national and international policies to alleviate the perpetual worldwide nursing shortage” (p. 179). Many American and international health care experts have done extensive research on the history of recruitment of foreign nurses into the U. S. healthcare system as well as the optimum strategies for helping to assimilate these nurses into health care facilities. Bola, Driggers, Dunlap, & Ebersole (2003) research revealed that “Foreign-educated nurses have filled nursing positions in the U.S. since World War II. And although recruiting foreign nurses may reduce short term staffing woes, it demands solid commitment” (p. 39). This recruitment of foreign educated nurses has in the past and continues to provide a temporary relief to healthcare facilities to assist in the staffing shortage; however no evidence supports this method of recruitment as a long term solution. Effective long term solutions will be required for the U.S. to continue to provide high quality health care. There is a vast amount of research that indicates the impact of the impending shortage. Buerhaus (2008) concluded that: Over the next 20 years, the average age of the RN will increase and the size of the workforce will plateau as large numbers of RNs retire. Because demand for RNs is expected to increase during this time, a large and prolonged shortage of nurses is expected to hit the US in the latter half of the next decade. (American Association of Colleges of Nursing, 2011, p.2) Buerhaus (2009) predicted that, despite the current easing of the nursing shortage due to the recession, the U.S. nursing shortage is projected to grow to 260,000 nurses by 2025 (American Association of Colleges of Nursing, 2011, p.2). Therefore, the U.S. healthcare system is facing increased challenges in its efforts to develop strategies that will successfully address the impending shortage. The ongoing recruitment practice of importing FEN’s to the U.S to impact the staffing issues related to the nursing shortage has not changed the long term issues related to the shortage, it has instead created a temporary fix with large financial benefits greatly impacting the growth of FEN’s recruitment businesses and the healthcare systems. “Since the current U.S. nursing shortage began in the late...
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