Why Secure Our Care?
Even before the COVID-19 crisis, this country faced a critical shortage of healthcare workers. A Health Affairs report found that since 2012, 60,000 nurses have retired annually, with that number increasing each year as baby boomers approach retirement age.
Staff burnout and early retirements due to COVID-19 have exacerbated this crisis, at a time when many baby boomers have an increased need for quality healthcare – further driving demand.
As a tireless advocate for seniors, 60 Plus recognizes that staffing shortages are a major obstacle to seniors receiving the quality care they are entitled to. Secure Our Care is an effort to highlight innovative approaches that can help us meet this challenge head on. Travel nursing programs and programs that allow us to fill critical gaps with qualified, highly trained, foreign-educated nurses are among the best market-based answers to this crisis.
Are Foreign-Educated Nurses Qualified?
Foreign-educated nurses are subject to strict industry certification protocols and must demonstrate proficiency in English. Data suggests they’re not only qualified, but that they enhance the workplace and the quality of care at hospitals that employ them.
As it stands, foreign-educated nurses may account for up to 16 percent of this country’s 3 million nurses. Foreign-educated nurses have been working in the U.S. since as far back as 1903 as a valuable asset to the facilities that employ them.
What Do Foreign-Educated Nurses Gain by Coming to the U.S.?
Despite some claims to the contrary, foreign-educated nursing programs are mutually beneficial programs staffed by highly competent, highly educated workers who are eager to work as nurses in U.S. facilities that are in need of additional support. These programs provide opportunities to nurses from poorer countries like Uganda and the Philippines to build a better life in the United States, while offering enough compensation for many to send money back in support of extended family overseas.
Patients, employees, and workers all benefit. Foreign-educated nurses are an important supplemental part of the American health care system, helping to ease the burden on domestic staff and as a necessary supplement where domestic staffing is inadequate. A study from the University of Illinois found that relying on foreign-educated registered nurses to balance demand and supply in the U.S. health care workforce does not hurt the employment of U.S.-educated nurses.
In fact, foreign-educated nurses may be key to addressing burnout among domestic workers. A study from the NYU College of Nursing found that employing foreign trained nurses may result in a more educated and stable nursing workforce. Studies pointing to foreign-educated nurses’ willingness to work hard to staff shifts on holidays, nights, and weekends may make them an important factor in decreasing burnout among hospital staff, and limiting overtime costs. Both foreign- and domestic-educated nurses are critical to ensuring that American seniors get the quality care they’re entitled to.
Similarly, travel nurses help hospitals fill critical staffing shortages and gaps due to seasonal staffing changes and sudden increases in activity. This was especially true during the COVID-19 pandemic. A study by KPMG found that when fully loaded payroll costs are taken into account, travel nurses actually cost less than full-time staff, helping hospitals direct resources to better care.
Secure Our Care is a project of 60 Plus, a non-partisan, non-profit organization that advocates for seniors and advances causes that matter most to seniors and their families. Founded in 1992, 60 Plus Association, the American Association of Senior Citizens is a 501c4 non-partisan, non-profit organization that advocates for seniors who believe in market-based solutions and are dedicated to protecting your right to freedom of speech and limited but effective government. We are committed to educating and advancing issues that matter most to seniors and their families such as protecting Social Security and Medicare, ensuring access to quality medical care, expanded educational options, lower taxes, retirement security, energy independence and permanently repealing the death tax.