International nurses bring skills and experience to areas in dire need of nurses. Healthcare leaders need to articulate the value of these RNs to ensure they continue to flow into the nursing workforce pool.
For decades, healthcare organizations have been turning to international nurses as a way to address nurse staffing challenges.
"I've been a CNO since 2004, in various locations, and in every location I've had international nurses. For 13 years there has been a steady supply for healthcare organizations across the country, not just my hospital," says Pam Bradshaw, DNP, MBA, RN, NEA-BC, CCRN-K.
Bradshaw is chief operating officer and chief nursing officer at Shannon Medical Center, a 409-bed medical center in San Angelo, TX. The community of 100,000 people is located in the western part of the state.
"We've seen a dramatic uptick in demand [in international nurses]. We're getting a lot of inbound leads and people calling us. We're adding new clients all the time," says Shari Dingle Costantini, RN, MBA.
"Hospitals and health systems are really looking at international nurses and asking, 'How do we plug them in and how do we make them part of our solution?'" Costantini is CEO of Avant Healthcare Professionals, an Orlando-based staffing firm specializing in international recruitment of healthcare professionals.
But, just as the desire to employ international nurses has been on the rise, so too has political rhetoric regarding immigration.
"That's been something that we feel we've had to combat around the world," says Costantini, who is also vice president and chair of regulatory affairs for the American Association of International Healthcare recruitment.
Jennifer Thew, RN, is the senior nursing editor at HealthLeaders.