Hospitals turn to international nurses to fill staffing gaps

As hospitals look to fill nursing shortages, they are bringing in foreign workers to help ease staffing strain experienced during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Take Christus St. Vincent Regional Medical Center in Santa Fe, N.M., for example. The hospital employs 36 foreign-born nurses and hopes to bring in 10 more in the near future via Nashville, Tenn.-based global healthcare agency Shearwater Health, according to the Santa Fe New Mexican.

Gerald Champion Regional Medical Center in Alamogordo, N.M., meanwhile, has 15 foreign-born nurses through staffing agencies and is waiting to bring in 15 more, the newspaper reported.

"We really have to throw a wide net to try and fill the positions that are needed," Kerry Bolin, MSN, RN, vice president of patient safety and chief nursing officer at Gerald Champion, told the Santa Fe New Mexican. "But nothing has been a quick fix."

The trend is occurring across the U.S.

As of Jan. 24, the U.S. was seeing about 1,000 nurses arriving monthly from African nations, the Philippines and the Caribbean, Sinead Carbery, president of recruiting firm O'Grady Peyton International, told The New York Times. The American Association of International Healthcare Recruitment also reported Feb. 11 that thousands of foreign-born nurses are waiting on visas so they can begin jobs in the U.S.

On Jan. 19, Detroit-based Henry Ford Health System said its strategy of recruiting nurses from the Philippines was making headway, with the first nursing cohort expected to arrive as early as this summer. 

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