Globetrotting Nurses

It seems like in this city there is a doctors office on every block, maybe every other in remote corner of the boroughs, so it’s hard to fathom that we are suffering a shortage of health care workers in this country but in fact due to the limited numbers of nursing schools, we have a shortage of nurses in this country. For this reason, there is a special visa for foreign nurses to come and work in the united states after passing the US nursing exams. Yet this policy has had unintended effects abroad. In Miami you will often Cuban nurses or medical technicians who are actually licensed physicians in their home country. Here in New York City we have an abundance of nurses from the Philippines who are typically nurses and doctors in their home country.
As a result, there has been effectively a brain drain the medical communities of these countries. We have effectively turned our nursing shortage into a total health care provider shortage abroad. So while these countries invest the resources to educate nurses and physicians, unlike we are willing to do, they cannot competitively compensate their health care workers and ultimately watch them walk away.
It cannot be argued that this is an ethical practice when the US government continues to refuse to direct funds to nursing education, in spite of heavy subsidization of physician education by Medicare. I would argue then that either the government needs to direct funds towards nursing in proportion to the number of foreign nurses they are giving visas to, or that institutions employing these nurses, who are often willing to work for less than US trained nurses, be required to direct funds to nursing education in proportion to their foreign nurse employment rate. This would both ameliorate the under availability of nursing education and discourage the government and facilities from bringing these health care workers from their home countries who desperately need them.


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