International recruitment of nurses is, well, international. Many foreign-educated nurses are recruited to work in America (USA), and American nurses are recruited (perhaps not as aggressively) to work in countries around the world. In 2009, an estimated 14,000 foreign-educated nurses (FENs) passed the NCLEX exam for licensure in the USA.
Here’s the issue: recruitment companies or hospitals may not always give an honest picture to those nurses whom they recruit. There is no accountability or standard to which they are held. In a study found here, the recruitment business has significant problems, and must reform its business practices as a whole.
In addition, little consideration is given to those countries that are already short on nurses as a whole. The recruitment companies continue to advertise and draw nurses away, thus increasing already severe nursing shortages.
In 2010, the World Health Organization approved a “Global Code of Practice” relevant to international recruitment of all healthcare personnel. A similar initiative, titled the “Voluntary Code of Ethical Conduct for the Recruitment of Foreign-Educated Health Professionals to the United States,” (originally published in 2008 and revised in 2011) provides ethical guidelines specifically to American companies. The problem is that both of these “codes” are voluntary. Will companies really adhere to them if the adherence causes a blow to their profit?
So, now we are 2 years past the “Global Code” approval. This retroactive study, published in 2012, found that over half of all FENs recruited to the States during a 4-year period (2003-2007) experienced at least one “Code” violation during their recruitment. If this same study was repeated for the years 2008-2012, after the WHO and USA Codes were published, what would be discovered?
Regardless of the results of these studies, the implications for nurses around the world are clear. We should not jump to conclusions regarding foreign-educated staff that works alongside us. Promises of education, training, orientation, living conditions, and compensation may not have been fulfilled, and as a result, the FEN or other foreign personnel may be left unsure, uneducated, and underpaid. FENs may be fearful of speaking up about their problems, not knowing how their complaints will affect their employment.
On the other hand, any nurse can take responsibility for educating themselves. Building up a knowledge base, and reviewing practice guidelines over and over allow nurses to feel confident in many situations. Maintaining continuing education is one of the most valuable steps a nurse can take in his or her career.
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