Experienced Chief Executive Officer of Actriv Healthcare with a demonstrated history of working in the staffing and recruiting industry.
The nursing industry is at a crossroads, as the national nursing shortage can have widespread and dire consequences if it continues to worsen. But zooming out to the world stage shows tens of thousands of qualified nurses abroad who may be the solution to our domestic crisis.
To solve the current situation, we need to look past our current borders and outward toward the enormous global talent pool. But how do we make that work?
What Caused This Crisis
Burnout and low-pay issues have not been resolved since the pandemic began, and now new limitations are cropping up for nurses. Many nurses who graduated in 2020 never went through the standard rite of passage in nursing: gaining hands-on experience in a clinical setting. As a result, new nurses are being thrown into an overwhelming and short-staffed setting they may not feel prepared for.
Many nurses switched to travel nursing, as the pay is typically better and the flexibility is promising. After making the switch, there’s no incentive to return to older salaries or models, leaving more vacancies in hospitals.
Additionally, the average age of nurses in the U.S. is rising—with many reaching retirement age before younger nurses have been adequately trained to take their place. With fewer people entering the workforce, quick measures must be taken to draw more nurses to local hospitals.
Discovering Untapped Talent
While the U.S. scrambles over a lack of nurses, other countries have tens of thousands of nurses currently unemployed. The global talent pool is richer than our national talent pool. Could it be time to consider bringing healthcare talent from overseas?
There are tremendous benefits to hiring nurses from overseas to come work in U.S. healthcare systems, such as:
1. More Opportunities For Qualified Nurses
Hiring nurses from other countries wouldn’t just offer a solution to the nursing industry’s current state of affairs. It would also offer lucrative work to qualified people who might not find the same opportunities back home. For many of these nurses, the U.S. dollar goes a lot farther than their local currency. Many of these workers will send money back home.
Also, upward mobility is high for nurses in the U.S. Healthcare workers that start out as nurses can later become advanced registered nurse practitioners (ARNPs), assistant physicians or any number of the specialized and in-demand positions.
2. Improved Global Healthcare
While a lot of the healthcare workers who come to the states will decide to stay and contribute to the country long-term, many others may choose to go home at some point.
After working in the U.S. healthcare system, workers can return to their homes and share what they’ve learned. This process increases standards of care and innovation globally and allows for rich cultural and scientific exchange.
3. Increased Skill Set And Disease Recognition
In their home countries, these same nurses may have been exposed to different diseases that American nurses haven’t. As the world becomes a global village where people travel internationally frequently, diseases also travel with them.
For example, many American hospitals may be unable to treat yellow fever or even correctly diagnose it. But if someone on the hospital staff has worked with these patients in the past, they may be able to say, “I’ve seen these symptoms before. I know how to help this person.”
How To Use Global Talent To Solve The Nursing Shortage
The most important question we’re left with is: How can we utilize the global talent pool to mitigate our nursing shortage? Unfortunately, there are a few obstacles we’ll need to overcome. Here’s what needs to happen.
Change immigration legislation.
The healthcare industry, traditionally, is one of the most migrant-friendly industries in the country. But between Covid-19 and immigration policy changes during the last administration, there was a considerable delay in immigration processing for many people. To solve this crisis, we might have to look first to legislative change. For example, we could accelerate the migration process for qualified nurses.
Make NCLEX available in more countries.
As of now, the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX) is only offered in select countries. That means that to practice in the U.S., many people have to find the money (usually by rallying an extended family or community) to pay for the flights and lodging required to take the exam, and hope that they pass the first time. The NCLEX should be available in more countries, especially countries where there is a high population of nurses.
Encourage employers to look into global talent.
Even if we make it easier for nurses to come to the U.S., they will still need somewhere to work. Hospitals and other healthcare employers should be aware of the massive amount of talent that is available if they start to look to sources overseas.
To spur the hiring of nurses from overseas, the healthcare industry must shift its mindset. Businesses that decide to bring global talent should ensure that their team is educated and their organization’s culture aligns with this particular strategy. Diversity and inclusion policies and training can help ensure that the nurses do not subsequently experience discrimination or isolation.
Intelligence Is Distributed Equally, Opportunity Is Not
Nursing is an incredibly noble profession, and there are many intelligent, capable and dedicated people who want to give their lives to that honorable work. We just need to facilitate the process for them. While the nursing crisis may seem impossibly dire at first glance, by expanding our horizons and looking toward the future, the solution is in sight.
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