ARCHIEL Buagas, RN, came to the United States from the Philippines three years ago hoping that a nursing job she'd obtained through a recruitment agency would open doors to a better way of life. But shortly after arriving in the country, Buagas learned she would be working for a different employer at a lower hourly wage than the employer with whom she'd signed a contract. She said the job switch was just the first in a string of broken promises that included inadequate training, improper paperwork and cramped, poorly heated housing.
To protect foreign-educated nurses such as Buagas from unethical employment practices, a coalition of stakeholders, including health care organizations, unions, educators and recruiters, in September released a voluntary code of ethics. The code aims to ensure that the growing practice of recruiting foreign-educated nurses to the United States is done in a responsible and transparent manner.
Released in September, the code sets standards for ensuring that the rights of foreign-educated nurses are protected, that clinical and cultural orientation programs for foreign-educated nurses are adequate and that the practice of recruitment does not harm countries faced with severe health work force shortages of their own.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services estimates that by 2020, the U.S. nursing work force could be 800,000 nurses short of the number of nurses needed to serve the rapidly aging population. In the meantime, some employers rely on international nurse recruitment to fill the gap.
Cheryl Peterson, MSN, RN, director of the Department of Nursing Practice and Policy for the American Nurses Association, said her organization believes the recruitment of foreign-educated nurses is not an answer to the nursing shortage.
"We know it is going to continue, and if it's going to continue it has …