Top three misconceptions about international healthcare staffing

April 22, 2022 | Workforce Solutions

The current direct-hire RN market shows 212,000 open jobs, which is 116% higher than the pre-COVID average. As we look forward, the US Bureau of Labor and Statistics projects 438,100 new nurse-related jobs will be created by 2026. With this large volume and forecast of open needs, many hospitals and health systems are looking to take a global approach to ease their workforce shortages and experience gaps.

While international healthcare professionals bring years of training and practice to provide continuity of care, there are many factors to consider for a successful transition and assimilation into the workplace. In a recent webinar, Aya Healthcare invited Ron Hoppe, CEO of WorldWide HealthStaff, and Mark Siegel, CEO of Epic Staffing Group, to share their insights and address any misconceptions around international staffing.  

Click here to watch the International Staffing webinar recording or continue reading for the webinar highlights.

Misconception 1: An international healthcare professional isn’t as qualified as a US-trained professional.

International nurses have completed a formal nursing education program and are subject to the same testing and NCLEX requirements as US-trained nurses. Additionally, international nurses recruited by WorldWide HealthStaff and Epic Staffing Group average eight years of experience. Hoppe shared, “Most of our nurses are Filipino nationals that are working in economically developed nations in the Middle East, such as Oman, Qatar, United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia. These countries have very sophisticated health systems, and the nurses are working with technology, medications and protocols that are very similar to facilities here in the US.”

Siegel added, “The quality of an international nurse is incredibly high, especially when compared to new grads who have little to no clinical experience.”

Misconception 2: International staffing is an easy, quick fix.

International staffing should be considered as part of a long-term workforce planning solution. Hoppe advises the time from when a candidate accepts an offer and a petition is filed to when a visa is issued, is approximately an 18-months. Siegel agrees, “It’s a process that can’t be accelerated, and there’s no back-channel way to do it much quicker. Because of the lengthy arrival time, we encourage healthcare leaders to ‘drink before you’re thirsty.’ By the time you feel like you need to drink water, you’re already dehydrated. So, we advise beginning the exploration process before you feel like you need it.”

During this pre-arrival time, it’s critical for the facility’s international program stakeholder team to establish appropriate infrastructure to prepare for the candidate’s arrival. IHCPs will have strong clinical experience, but they’ll need operational support to ease the transition into a new country. To fully assimilate IHCPs into your organization, many different aspects of organizational and community support need to be contemplated. Aya Advisory Solutions team members help clients ensure both the organization and the candidate are set up for success prior to the candidate arriving in the US.

Misconception 3: Only registered nurses are part or the international healthcare professional candidate pool.

As workforce issues compound all of healthcare, international recruiting isn’t limited to registered nurses. International recruitment firms are filling many health systems’ needs for allied positions including laboratory technicians and medical technologists. Hoppe shared about the increase in international recruitment for nurse aide positions and the development of his aide to RN program. The nurse aides are individuals that have completed their formal nursing education program in their home country and are motivated to begin working in the US. Once they’re in the US, they’re employed as a nursing aid or nursing tech, provided the support to pass the NCLEX and presented with a career development opportunity to work as a registered nurse. The aide to RN program allows the health system to address its urgent support needs in the shorter term while expanding its pipeline for registered nurses.

A leading justification for incorporating international healthcare professionals into the healthcare system is to reduce the cost of premium contingent travel labor. However, a foundational goal should be the quality of the IHCP and the contributions they deliver to the health system and facility. They bring a diverse cultural background to help support an organization’s diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives. Additionally, their varied clinical backgrounds can offer new perspectives on the different aspects of care delivery. Because of the long and complex process that many IHCPs endure to be able to work in a US facility, they’re extremely dedicated, committed employees.

Developing an international staffing program requires significant investment into people and processes. The Aya Advisory Solutions team partners with healthcare facility clients and their international recruitment agency from ideation to assimilation to ensure long-term success. To learn more about how your organization can navigate the complex international staffing landscape and develop a comprehensive onboarding and support plan for your IHCPs, contact [email protected].

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