Archive for May, 2008

One sided solutions are a drop in the bucket, let’s think full circle!

Monday, May 19th, 2008

I am long overdue in giving you a retrogression/what’s-going-on-about-the-nursing-shortage-update. Some good things are happening out there. Back on March 1st the Dept. of State
(DOS)/National Visa Center (NVC) pushed the dates for Employment Based 3rd category (EB3) visa processing to January 1st 2005 in an attempt to utilize the visa quota for fiscal year 2008 before they go in the trash. The USCIS is processing petitions too slowly and as a result they don’t use all the visas available to them each year. They go unused even though we are neck
deep in retrogression. What this means is that any nurses with petitions that have a priority date on or before the processing date has a shot at getting a visa. It gets even better; the last I looked at the visa bulletin the processing dates jumped from Jan. 1, 2005 to March 1, 2006! I have started getting paperwork from the NVC for some of our nurses, let’s hope it jumps
forward even more so we can get some of our long awaited RNs in. This situation is volatile and could change at any time and the dates could go back again so pushing all the paperwork through quickly is required in order to get a shot at visas, and trust me, we are on top of it.

Now in regards to retrogression the song remains the same, we are waiting for the elections
to conclude, so attention can be directed back to the need for some kind of immigration change that will allow nurses to obtain visas and fill the ever growing shortage. This leads me to my next point. We are approximately 250,000 nurses short and this number will keep going up; statistics are saying that by 2020 we will be a million short (recent reports have reduced that estimate, but there will still be a massive shortage that threatens quality of care). There is a lot of noise about getting more nurses through increased enrollment in nursing programs and ways to make this happen. I agree that we need domestic solutions, but what stands out are the numbers I have seen for increased enrollment still only supplies a small quanity of nurses
compared to the hundreds of thousands of nurses we need. With an aging baby-boomer population, the health care systems will become even more strained, not to mention the baby boomer nurses who are retiring. More nursing programs and students is a good and important plan, but it will take 20+ years to fully reap the benefits. We need something that answers to
the crisis now. In my opinion, a good solution is one that is well-rounded; that includes a combination of domestic solutions such as more nursing schools, better working conditions for nurses, domestic recruitment, etc. and recruiting from abroad. We aren’t the only country that has a nurse shortage and we are losing out due to our restrictive visa program for nurses. Other countries are much more welcoming to foreign nurses and they are the ones getting them instead of us. I have attached an article that is about one domestic proposal for getting more RN Educators in order to increase enrollment through the military. It is very interesting. Please comment on your thoughts and reactions!
“RN Educators”