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Greg Siskind on Immigration Law and Policy

OBAMA NOTES THAT FOREIGN NURSES ARE NOT A LONG TERM SOLUTION FOR SHORTAGE

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I've gotten a few emails from folks concerned about remarks President
Obama made yesterday regarding the role of foreign nurses in solving
the nation's desperate nursing shortage. At a White House health care forum, President Obama
discussed the nursing shortage with Congresswoman Lois Capps, a former
nurse. According to Indian news service IANS,
the President has proposed a substantial budget increase in nursing
education in the US in hopes of ending the country's dependence on
foreign nurses:

"The
notion that we would have to import nurses makes absolutely no sense,"
he said at a White House Forum on Health Care Thursday when a lawmaker
pointed out that America's huge shortage of nurses may mount to over
500,000 in the next seven years.

"And
there are a lot of people who would love to be in that helping
profession, and yet we just aren't providing the resources to get them
trained, that's something that we've got to fix," he said in response
to the question from Democrat Lois Capps, who is one of the three
nurses in the US Congress.

"That
should be a no-brainer. That should be a bipartisan no-brainer, to make
sure that we've got the best possible nursing staffs in the country,"
Obama said.

Pointing
out that US has a huge shortage of nurses and the "greatest bottleneck
for educating more nurses comes from the lack of nursing school
faculty," Capps wanted to know how the US can further advance nursing
education and faculty training.

Obama
agreed, "Nurses provide extraordinary care. ...And they don't get paid
very well. Their working conditions aren't as good as they should be.
And when it comes to nurse faculty, they get paid even worse than
active nurses.

"So
what happens is, is that it is very difficult for a nurse practitioner
to go into teaching, because they're losing money," he noted.

Some of the headlines in the Asian papers about this story have been misleading. The President has not suggested he won't support nursing immigration legislation. Rather, he's saying that we need to do a better job training more Americans to go in to the profession so we don't need to rely so heavily on nurses from abroad to take care of our patients.

I don't disagree. Nursing is a great profession that is incredibly important and we need to encourage more young Americans to consider a future in the field. But it will take a good ten years of heavy investment in education to be able to really start making a dent in the shortage in this country - estimated at nearly a million nurses. Until then, who will care for our sick? The great thing about the legislative proposal likely to be heard soon for opening up nursing immigration (which has largely been shut down for over a year), is that there are significant new filing fees that will go directly to nursing education initiatives in this country so we can do exactly what the President is proposing. 

Nursing immigration won't cure the dire shortage of RNs in this country. But they will help alleviate the systems until we have that cure.

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Comments

  1. JK's Avatar
    If it true then I am very sorry for my agency, they spend lot of money on me still waiting for the visa. Anyway I have a good job here in Gulf. My American friends also asking to find job here for them!!!! What is happening there!!!!
  2. George Chell's Avatar
    If doubling the salary of nurses is the key, it is not solution at all and it will defeat Obama's goals of controlling health care costs.
  3. George Chell's Avatar
    "The great thing about the legislative proposal likely to be heard soon for opening up nursing immigration (which has largely been shut down for over a year), is that there are significant new filing fees that will go directly to nursing education initiatives in this country so we can do exactly what the President is proposing."

    Greg:

    Has any legislation been introduced?
  4. Greg Siskind's Avatar
    No formal introduction yet, but the bill language is circulating on the Hill and I have seen it. It will likely come up soon.
  5. Limbo's Avatar
    The economy is in such rough shape that even some nurses have been laid off here in AZ, and the number of job postings has decreased substantially over the past year or so. This is masking the reality of the nursing shortage for the time being and keeping it mostly off the radar of politicians and hospital administrators.

    At the same time, many colleges have cut back their nursing programs because of a lack of funds, and because educating nursing students is VERY expensive and therefore a tempting target. Combine this with the fact that there has been a virtual embargo on nurse immigration over the past year or so, and we are seeing a decline in the number of qualified nurses entering the workforce (this has been partially offset by some inactive nurses re-entering the field out of financial necessity, but they will likely leave again when the can).

    Of course, people can only put off medical treatment for so long, and once the economy picks up, there will be a flood of demand for health care services.

    This is a perfect storm which will create a desperate shortage of nurses in the coming years. My guess is that only then will something be done to address the fact that there is no path for nurses to immigrate into this country.
  6. George Chell's Avatar
    All valid points...

    "The economy is in such rough shape that even some nurses have been laid off here in AZ, and the number of job postings has decreased substantially over the past year or so. This is masking the reality of the nursing shortage for the time being and keeping it mostly off the radar of politicians and hospital administrators."

    Comment: Arizona will likely not recover from the crisis until 2013 according to economists. People are being driven from the state either through racial profiling, illegals running away from the Sheriff or just packing up leaving. It is a horror show that is being played out.

    "At the same time, many colleges have cut back their nursing programs because of a lack of funds, and because educating nursing students is VERY expensive and therefore a tempting target. Combine this with the fact that there has been a virtual embargo on nurse immigration over the past year or so, and we are seeing a decline in the number of qualified nurses entering the workforce (this has been partially offset by some inactive nurses re-entering the field out of financial necessity, but they will likely leave again when the can)."

    Comment: I thought nurses are still allowed to migrate. I agree with your training issues though.

    "Of course, people can only put off medical treatment for so long, and once the economy picks up, there will be a flood of demand for health care services."

    Comment: Those with money will go abroad.

    "This is a perfect storm which will create a desperate shortage of nurses in the coming years. My guess is that only then will something be done to address the fact that there is no path for nurses to immigrate into this country."

    There are still nursing visas, am I wrong? Please correct me if I am wrong. I thought only the quota is full just like the H1Bs.

  7. George Chell's Avatar
    News from abroad..

    http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/World/US-Special-visa-category-for-nurses/articleshow/4210858.cms


  8. Raji's Avatar
    Greg,

    Is there any chance for a retrogression relief for the nurses in 2009. If so, what is your rough estimated time. I saw your comment that the language is circulating on the Hill. Any chance for introduction this month?
  9. Greg Siskind's Avatar
    I think we could see something soon - perhaps in the next few weeks.
  10. Raji's Avatar
    Since the retrogression has gone back forward to 2003 for Philipines and ROW, can we hope the Representatives of the Congress take urgent action to reintroduce the HR 5924 to meet the accute shortage of Nurses in USA.Even if the retrogressions gets in next few months it will take another 6 to 9 months for the RNs to reach US and by then the shortage will only increase. The 90 million financial assistance they will get with this will also allow US to create new infrastructure for training additional nurses within USA itself to meet future requirement.
  11. G L Kaushal's Avatar
    in fact the local language news papers have put head lines in such a way that nursrs are very much worried about their career in US...so this nursing relief act 2009 needs to be passed as soon as possible so that foreign nurses may serve the people of USA with heart and soul
  12. Marissa's Avatar
    I am a nursing student and an additional problem I have noticed about the shortage is not only foreign nurses taking our jobs, not only the faculty shortage, but also the HIRING FREEZE at the local hospitals. Isn't that wonderful? My classmate and I are enrolled in the toughest nursing program in RI and MA and worked our butts off to get accepted into the program and are working even harder for our underpaid instructors to teach us everything they possibly can so that when we graduate we won't a have as easily as people think. I am a CNA and have been trying to get a job at a lifespan affiliated hospital and can't because of the freeze.
    I do not think we need to get paid more...well of course everyone would like to, however mandatory overtime, working with 1-2 less nurses on the floor it not only dangerous but it is backbreaking. I feel if a facility is working short their nurses should get and X-amount of extra dollars an hour, not double the salaries for every nurse in America. I have worked short as a CNA plenty and have seen the nurses I work with work short. it is not picnic.
    Peoples lives are in the hands of nurses...America cannot afford to be working short handed. That is how medical mistakes happen a that may be fatal.
  13. Greg Siskind's Avatar
    Marissa - I think you're living in Bizarro world if you think a foreign nurse is keeping you from getting a job. If any hospitals have hiring freezes on nurses right now, its probably because the hospital is on the verge of bankruptcy (and I know a few that are right now). I would say that 95% of hospitals not only have nurse openings, most of them are DESPERATE.

    Send me your resume when you're looking for a job. I'm very serious. If you are an American nurse out there who can't find a job, send me your resume at gsiskind@visalaw.com. Hospitals pay healthy finders fees to those able to bring them qualified candidates. You'll win. I'll win. Patients will win. And, by the way, there will still be a million nurse position openings that can't possibly be filled by every American nurse, nursing student and available foreign nurse.
  14. Sarah's Avatar
    I am one of those foreign nurses, but I got all of my education in the U.S. I got sponsored for a green card and I-140 approved and just waiting for the retrogression to be lifted while I work under a different permit. It really bothers me when Americans say "American nurses are having a hard time getting jobs. Therefore, foreign nurses should not get the retrogression relief." I get job notifications in my e-mail twice a week and each e-mail has at least 50 open positions in my area. And that's only what was posted on that particular e-mail. If you are an American nurse and cannot get a job, that's because you are asking for too much, or you are not good at interviews. Either you want hours that are impossible to find, or you want a lot more money for less work, or you want extremely great benefits, great co-workers and administration that treats you like gold, and the best hospital you can find in the area. I am sorry to say, but some Americans are so spoiled.... Sometimes you have to swallow all your wants and needs and deal with the tough times. Many foreign nurses tolerate crappy hours, poor nurse to patient ratios, and poor treatment by the administration. If you want a job, and you want money to pay for your bills, stop wining and get to work because those patients need you!
  15. Molly G's Avatar
    There is no nursing shortage. There are, I've heard, 2000 unemployed new grad RNs in California right now. I'm one of them. I have sent out 400 applications, I'm on the phone every day calling managers and in my car several times per week bringing my resume, letters of recommendation, copies of my advanced certifications to hospitals in this area. None are on the verge of bankruptcy, but most have hiring freezes or are only hiring experienced nurses.

    If money is going to be spent it should be spent on training programs for new grads so that hospitals won't be reluctant to hire them.

    I have no problem with foreign nurses coming to the US to work, but I want it to be very clear that THERE IS NO NURSING SHORTAGE anymore. At least not in California and in most urban areas.
  16. Greg Siskind's Avatar
    Molly - If you email me your resume at gsiskind@visalaw.com, I know a number of staffing companies that have positions. Many of these are in rural areas around the country, but I'm sure you won't mind relocating to one of these areas. Am I correct?
  17. Molly G's Avatar
    I would mind moving, yes. I am active in my community, VP of my kids' PTA, have a husband with a career here and own my home (at least for the time being). My family lives here, as have I, for close to four decades. I went into nursing to contribute to my community and to my family, not to abandon it. I was the top student in my nursing class and have many advanced certifications, foreign language skills and a stack of glowing letters of recommendation...and I'm still not employed.

    Thanks for the offer, though.

    There may be a nursing shortage, but positions are being filled by travelers from out of state. Hospitals don't have to pay them benefits, don't have to worry about the travelers going on strike and don't have to bother hiring enthusiastic, newly trained and highly motivated people like me. I am more than happy to compete against foreign trained nurses in an interview, in a test of my skills and knowledge. I have no problem with that. I just wish that someone was fighting to help hire the many, many new grad RNs that are already here in the US.

    It's a shame
  18. Immigrant Investor Visa's Avatar
    I agree with the president that foreign workers are not a long term solution to a shortage of skilled domestic laborers. Instead, we should focus on training the citizens that are currently unemployed. At the end of the day, every country has a responsibility to its citizens first and foremost. This should come hand in hand with comprehensive immigration reform, so that the process is fair to people who will become citizens in the future, and who will add value to the national workforce.
  19. thomasq's Avatar
    buy twitter followers I might suggest solely beneficial in addition to trusted facts, and so find it: buy retweets
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