Michigan systems go international with nurse recruiting

Hospitals and health systems continue to seek ways to combat a shortage of nurses. In Michigan, some organizations are leaning on foreign nurses to help fill the staffing gaps — an effort that comes amid the U.S.' decision to limit green card applications, the Detroit Free Press reported April 28.

Take Detroit-based Henry Ford Health, for example. The six-hospital system expects as many as 600 registered nurses from the Philippines to take jobs through 2025 to fill open nursing positions, according to the Free Press.

"The state of nursing at Henry Ford Health is as strong as it was pre-pandemic. Our nursing vacancy rates are well below the national average, but like healthcare organizations across the country we struggle to fill vacant nursing positions due to the nationwide nursing shortage," Eric Wallis, DNP, RN, senior vice president and chief nursing officer, said in a statement shared with Becker's.

"Our team is constantly creating and implementing innovative recruitment and retention efforts. Among our recruitment tools is our plan to bring up to 600 registered nurses from the Philippines to Henry Ford hospitals between now and 2025. Our first Filipino nurse arrived this week. We hope to welcome more international recruits later this year."

The health system is among many organizations grappling with shortages caused by factors such as nurses stepping out of the workforce during the pandemic and reaching retirement age. Across the U.S., shortages are expected to continue, with about 800,000 nurses saying they intend to leave the workforce by 2027, according to results of a comprehensive National Council of State Boards of Nursing and National Forum of State Nursing Workforce Centers study released April 13. The pipeline from nursing schools helps fill some nursing gaps. However, health systems are looking at other initiatives, including international recruiting. 

Henry Ford announced in September 2021 that it was reviving its strategy of recruiting nurses from the Philippines.  

At the time, Bob Riney, Henry Ford Health's then COO and current president and CEO, told Becker's that those efforts decades ago were successful, with many nurses from the Philippines enjoying longstanding careers with the health system. The health system has also looked to Canada to recruit nurses and now has 590 Canadian nurses in its workforce, according to the Free Press.

Now, as Henry Ford Health looks to bring in more nurses from the Philippines, the State Department has announced that it will not accept any more applications for green cards for foreign nurses will be accepted this year, and only applications submitted by June 2022 will be processed until the backlog is reduced and more green cards are made available. Healthcare groups have since expressed concerns that the decision will exacerbate staffing woes at hospitals and nursing homes.

A U.S. State Department spokesperson told the Detroit Free Press that the issuance of new, employment-based visas to workers from the Philippines is delayed at least until October.

Most nurses seeking employment in the U.S. enter via an EB-3, or "third preference," visa. Henry Ford leaders are advocating for lawmakers to pass legislation that would make it easier for foreign nurses to enter the U.S, the Free Press reported.

Meanwhile, other Michigan systems are also seeking international help. According to the Free Press, Grand Blanc-based McLaren Health Care has some Canadian workers and now is working to recruit nurses and medical technologists from the Philippines, Nigeria, Kenya, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia.

"We're proud to say that our first set of offers recently went out with more to follow in the coming weeks," Kimberly Keaton Williams, vice president of talent acquisition and development and chief diversity officer for McLaren, told the newspaper. "We anticipate welcoming a group of registered nurses and medical technologists to the state for placement at our facilities in the second half of 2024."

Shana Lewis, vice president of human resources-talent acquisition for Livonia-based Trinity Health, told the newspaper the health system employs about 100 international workers, including some from the Philippines, and anticipates hiring an additional 200 nurses in Michigan and several hundred more across the organization over the next two years.

Beth Cranson, spokesperson for Corewell Health, dually headquartered in Grand Rapids and Southfield, told the newspaper its efforts to recruit foreign nurses "complements the nurse scholar programs at Grand Valley State University and Oakland University, which are designed to increase the talent pipeline."

To read the full report, click here

Copyright © 2024 Becker's Healthcare. All Rights Reserved. Privacy Policy. Cookie Policy. Linking and Reprinting Policy.


Featured Whitepapers

Featured Webinars