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The Nursing and Allied Workers Immigration Blog is pleased to recognize this week as National Nurses Week. NNW is week-long celebration of the significant contributions that nurses have and continue to make to the American landscape. The American Nurses Association has a special page dedicated to highlighting facts about nurses.Many of these facts detail the nursing shortage, the projections for short supply in the next decade, and the consequences of such short supply, including:
According to projections released in February 2004 from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, RNs top the list of the 10 occupations with the largest projected job growth in the years 2002-2012. Although RNs have listed among the top 10 growth occupations in the past, this is the first time in recent history that RNs have ranked first. These 10-year projections are widely used in career guidance, in planning education and training programs and in studying long-range employment trends. According to the BLS report, more than 2.9 million RNs will be employed in the year 2012, up 623,000 from the nearly 2.3 million RNs employed in 2002. However, the total job openings, which include both job growth and the net replacement of nurses, will be more than 1.1 million. This growth, coupled with current trends of nurses retiring or leaving the profession and fewer new nurses, could lead to a shortage of more than one million nurses by the end of this decade. (For details, see www.bls.gov/emp/#outlook .)
The nation's registered nurse (RN) workforce is aging significantly and the number of full-time equivalent RNs per capita is forecast to peak around the year 2007 and decline steadily thereafter, according to Peter Buerhaus of Vanderbilt University's nursing school. Buerhaus also predicted that the number of RNs would fall 20 percent below the demand by 2010. (Journal of the American Medical Association, June 14, 2000).
Schools of nursing were forced to reject more than 147,000 qualified applications to nursing programs at all levels in 2005 - an increase of 18 percent over 2004, according to a report by the National League for Nursing (NLN). The NLN Blamed the problem in part on a continuing shortage of nursing educators. Meanwhile, nursing colleges and universities denied 32,617 qualified applicants in 2005, also resulting primarily from a shortage of nurse educators, according to survey data released by the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN). The AACN survey also reveals that enrollment in entry-level baccalaureate nursing programs increased by 13.0 percent from 2004 to 2005. According to AACN, this is the fifth consecutive year of enrollment increases with 14.1, 16.6, 8.1 and 3.7 percent increases in 2004, 2003, 2002 and 2001, respectively. Prior to the five-year upswing, baccalaureate nursing programs experienced six years of declining enrollments from 1995 through 2000.
Even more interesting facts can be found at the ANA's special webpage dedicated to NNW facts.
MONTHLY MEDICAL MONITOR
May 2009 Headlines:
H-1B Cap Update
What the Lack of H-1B Filings Really Means
Demand for Nurses: Less During Downturn
To subscribe to the MMM, go here.
The USCIS' recently updated its regular cap FY 2009 H-1B cap count. The update of 44,000 accepted petitions, up from 42,000 in the first announcement, means a run rate of about 1,000 petitions per week. At this rate it may be five or six months until the H-1B cap is reached. In prior years we have seen more than twice as many H-1B cases accepted as slots were available. These numbers provide compelling evidence against the argument that internationally-trained workers are being used to displace American workers and lower US workers salaries. That argument just doesn't jibe with what is actually happening.If H-1B visa labor was being used primarily to lower US workers salaries, the H-1B filing numbers wouldn't be impacted to any meaningful degree. Why? Because the incentive to reduce workers' salaries is likely greater in a recessed economy, not less. This logic is straightforward and convincing.Yet, this year we've seen a dramatic downtick in H-1B visas filed in industries like Information Technology and Finance. Meanwhile industries with continued staffing shortages, such as healthcare and teaching, continued to file H-1B Petitions. If the H-1B program was being used to lower salaries, why aren't the IT and financial industries continuing to file H-1B petitions? Are these industries not interested in cutting costs?
It bears worth repeating: if the H-1B program is used to reduce US workers salaries, why haven't the H-1B Petition numbers continued in industries where every dollar is increasingly important?In point of fact, the H-1B program is largely used to supplement worker supply shortages and attract the international superstars to the US. This isn't to say that there aren't the occasional bad actors who abuse the system. But the relative paucity of H-1B enforcement actions calls into serious question that there is any large-scale fraud inherent in the system. Particularly noteworthy is the complete lack of any arrests or prosecutions in the wake of a well-publicized September 2008 DHS report on H-1B Benefit Fraud. Critics of the H-1B system fail to acknowledge just how well the system actually works. In robust times, the H-1B system allows growing companies to attract more workers from overseas when they can't fill those jobs with US workers. In down times, when jobs are few, the market does what it is supposed to do and fewer H-1B job offers are made. If Congress really wants to reform the H-1B process, it ought to eliminate the arbitrary quota and just let the market sort out the numbers question. Congress also ought to give non-bachelor degree occupations with well-documented staffing shortages, such as nursing, access to the H-1B program.-Chris Musillo
For earlier blog posts by Christopher T. Musillo on nurse immigration see here.