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Nursing shortage in the country is becoming a crisis to health care and safety of the patients. The policy makers and leaders in the health sector should therefore tackle this worrying issue with haste. Some of the strategies proposed by the workforce commission for hospital and health systems are; flexibility in staffing options and improved working conditions for the nurses. More staff will be attracted to our country as long as we improve on the process and provision of work permits. To get enough internationally trained nurses the government and the private sector should collaborate with developing countries in training enough nurses for both countries. This policy concludes that the federal government should make the process of getting work permit and travel visa for these internationally trained nurses easier.     


Nursing shortage in the country is becoming a crisis to the health care and safety of the patients. The policy makers and leaders in the health sector should be very keen in handling this worrying issue. Buerhaus (2000) provided an insight into how societal and organizational demands for health care and for registered nurses are increasing. Factors that have lead to this increase in the demand of nurses are; increasing health care requirements in the aging population, increasing general population and increase of acutely sick patients. One of the ways of tackling this shortage of nurse staff is by recruiting international trained nurses to work for the health care sector.

Shortage of Nurses in the Health Care Sector

For the past 50 years U.S. government has been importing less than 5% of the nurse work force, but this figure is slowly changing. In 2002 the workforce commission for hospital and health systems issued a recommendation to the health care leaders in confronting current nurse shortage. Some of the strategies proposed by the workforce commission for hospital and health systems are; flexibility in staffing options and improved working conditions for the nurses. Shortage of nurses in the country is not a new thing to the policy makers and health sector leaders. Many of the strategies have been put forward but more still need to be done to tackle this problem.

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Recruiting International Trained Nurses

Increasing shortage of nurses in the U.S. and with the good working conditions in health care sector combined with high remuneration, more nurses will be attracted to our country as long as we improve on the process of providing them with visas and work permits. The government should formulate policies that encourage more health workforce to come and offer the much needed services in the U.S. health sector. They should keep in mind that it's not only the U.S that these nurses seek employment. There are other foreign nurse pool countries like U.K and some Asian countries.

Saskia Gent (2006) said that the foreign nurse pool has been very controversial making countries like U.K. establishing ethical codes of practice for the recruitment of health professionals. This code of practice tries to protect the interest of the country of origin, but this has been seen to be discriminatory to individuals willing to work abroad.

Health sector should therefore, be seen as an exceptional in migration. When the country of origin seems to be loosing its health workforce and depriving its citizens the basic right of health care, likewise at the same time health care cannot be provided in the US without importing health professionals to meet the growing demand of the ageing population. Utilization of this foreign nurse import policy will eventually lead to desired outcomes including improve in nurse staffing.

Factors affecting this migration

Most of the health professionals in the developing countries come from wealthy and elite families such that they will not agree to work in their country of origin and resort to come to a developed country like U.S. where they will work in good conditions and are paid highly. Therefore the American health sector should capitalize on this and recruit more of these nurses to have adequate stuff in the health care sector.  Saskia Gent (2006) confers with this "it is often difficult to encourage medical personnel to serve in rural areas even in countries such as South Africa which has resorted to importing doctors and nurses from countries such as Cuba".

From this point of view this policy will provide an alternative way of dealing with this shortage. As it encourages the foreign nurse pool to work in our health care sector. The crisis currently felt in the health care sector due to this shortage will be a thing of the past. Importing of international trained nurses to work in our health care sector reduces the cost incurred by the federal government in training its own nurses.

To get enough internationally trained nurses, the government and the private sector should collaborate with developing countries in training enough nurses for both countries. Although this maybe be perceived as a 'second-rate' system of medical training, it will be better to consider 'two-tier' system of training where nurses to be imported to U.S. are trained to international standards while the rest of the nurses who are suppose to remain in the developing countries be trained to more basic levels of health care. The same nurses who will remain in their countries of origin will have the most appropriate skills working in the poor rural areas of developing countries.

For the government to meet its requirements for these registered nurses, then it should embark on rigorous recruitment of internationally trained registered nurses. The aggressive recruitment of foreign nurses will not be met if the vigorous assurance of the quality and skills of immigrating nurses by the federal government remains. Therefore, this bureaucratic process of getting working permit and travel visa should be made easier.     

Barbara et al (2007) said that "foreign trained nurses are a substantial part of the US nursing workforce". He still mentions that foreign trained nurses are more likely to have a bachelor's degree and comparable work experience. Therefore the process of getting working permit and travel visa should be easy.

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