Sometime in 2011, Congress may wish to revisit the US’ immigration policy. MU has consistently called on Congress to raise the artificial limits on true shortage occupations, such as Registered Nursing. At present, it takes a fully-qualified foreign-trained Registered Nurse about six years to obtain an immigrant visa. These nurses pass identical licensing exams to US nurses. They also must pass English fluency exams.
The Department of Labor continues to point to nursing as one of the occupations in the shortest supply.
Now, comes a March 17, 2011 New England Journal of Medicine research paper confirming that Fewer Nurses Means a Higher Risk of Death. The study, authored by well known researchers such as Dr. Peter Buerhaus, cites hundreds of thousands of admissions and nurse work shifts. The researchers found that a patient’s risk of death increased by about two percent for each work shift that was what the researchers categorized as understaffed.
The study was also subject of a recent Scientific American podcast, which is freely available for download.
The US’ immigration policy is woeful on so many fronts, but liberalized nurse visa rules should be a simple one to fix because the benefits to Americans would be enormous.