International recruiting is an important pillar of healthcare staffing. But it's not the only one.

Shortages of US healthcare professionals are nothing new—America has been wrestling with chronic shortages of physicians, registered nurses, and allied healthcare professionals for decades.

AAIHR supports state and federal policies to grow the domestic nursing workforce. But as this complex work unfolds, the recruitment of foreign-educated nurses continues to demonstrate a unique value proposition for healthcare providers and patients.

  • Before obtaining their US licenses, foreign-educated healthcare professionals must have received education that is substantially equivalent to their US-educated peers, have demonstrated English proficiency through a rigorous English proficiency exam, and have passed the same US licensure examination that is required of US-educated colleagues in their profession.  
  • Many foreign-educated healthcare professionals have years of experience in quality healthcare facilities including Joint Commission International-accredited hospitals around the world, including the Philippines, India, the United Kingdom, or the Middle East.
  • Many registered nurses educated outside the US receive a BSN upon graduation—often at higher rates than their US peers. Recruitment of international nurses can help achieve higher rates BSN-level education across the health care sector.

International recruitment isn’t the singular solution to the worker shortage. But ask anyone working at the front line of the staffing crisis and they’ll tell you it is one of them.

Why Recruit Overseas?

Overcome Shortages of Qualified US Professionals

Demand for US healthcare professionals is expected to exceed supply for virtually every major healthcare occupation over the next decade.  Some US healthcare organizations struggle to attract and retain sufficient qualified US healthcare professionals in today’s market.  This is particularly true for many rural and inner city facilities.  But it is also true of oil and gas boom towns and other population growth markets.  Developing an off-shore supply channel can be an effective way to fill positions that would otherwise go unfilled.

Build Your Long-Term Workforce

Recruitment of international healthcare professionals is typically not a “temporary” staffing solution like per diem or travel staffing.  International healthcare professionals are generally looking to put down roots and settle into the community in which they work.  If welcomed to the organization and treated well, these professionals usually exhibit strong loyalty to the organization that recruits them.  Recruitment of international professionals on a direct hire or contract-to-hire basis can help organizations to develop the qualified workers needed for the long-term.

Reduce Dependency on Contract Labor

Most healthcare organizations are looking for ways to reduce their utilization of domestic contract labor in order to reduce labor costs.  Supplementing your workforce with international professionals for long term employment can be a cost-effective way to build the facility’s permanent staff over the long term and therefore lessen over-reliance on per diem and travel staffing services.

Enhance Workforce Diversity

As the US population becomes increasingly diverse, many US healthcare organizations are looking for ways to increase the diversity of their clinical staff.  Recruitment of international healthcare professionals is one means of achieving this goal.

Increase staff BSNs

Several research reports have concluded that baccalaureate educated nurses provide a higher level of patient care.  The Institute of Medicine has recommended that to increase the proportion of nurses with a baccalaureate degree from 50 to 80 percent by 2020.  Many Registered Nurses educated outside the US receive a BSN upon graduation.  As a result, recruitment of international nurses can help to achieve the goals of increasing the percentage of nurses with BSN level education. and delivering high quality patient care.

Improve Retention

First year attrition rates for US new graduate RNs can be very high. In, “Tripping over the welcome mat: Why new nurses don’t stay and what the evidence says we can do about it,” which was published in June 2012 in the American Nurse Today, the authors cited US new graduate nurse turnover rates of roughly 30% in the first year of practice and as much as 57% in the second year.  The authors also cited an estimated cost of $82,000 or more per nurse, and concluded “New Graduate Nurse attrition is costly in economic and professional terms—and can negatively impact patient-care quality.”   By comparison, retention rates for international nurses are typically higher than US new graduate retention.

Improve Patient Satisfaction

Researchers have concluded that inadequate staffing adversely impacts patient satisfaction, among other performance variables.  It follows that organizations which are challenged to recruit or retain adequate US healthcare professionals may be face lower patient satisfaction scores and lower reimbursement.  By recruiting international healthcare professionals, healthcare organizations can overcome worker shortages and therefore improve patient satisfaction.