Is the Nurses’ Petition Still A Passport to Work Abroad? Study Reveals Patient Mortality Increases as Nurse Staffing Decreases26 March 2011
For several years now, the retrogression of visa availability for employment-based petition for nurses has resulted in a backlog in the issuance of visas. The number of years that a nurse will have to wait to become an immigrant is now an average of five to six years. With the decline in the migration of nurses to the US, a new study shows that lack of nurses in hospitals have caused an increase in mortality of patients.
Blesilda finished her nursing degree in 2009. She planned to migrate and work in the US as a registered nurse. After she passed her board exam and the NCLEX, she paid a substantial sum to a recruiter to find her a US employer. Thereafter, a US employer filed a petition for her immigrant visa in 2010. This petition was eventually approved with a priority date of April 1, 2010.
The approval of the Blesilda’s petition did not guarantee her the immediate issuance of an immigrant visa. She has to undergo a wait of many more years before she is processed for a visa. The visa petition was filed under the 3rd preference employment-based category where the priority dates currently being processed are petitions that filed in 2005. This means that it may take approximately five (5) more years before she is processed for the visa. In the meantime, Blesilda is finding a job in local hospitals in her own town.
Major Changes in Hiring
Before 2007, the registered nurses recruitment in the US was at its height. The US Congress recognized the severe shortages and the adverse effect it had on health care. Thus, more visas were made available for foreign nurses. With immediate visa availability, nurses at that time had the luxury of choosing which US employer to work for. There was even a buying of contracts from one employer to another. That situation has changed. Currently, it is not unheard of for Nurses to pay for employers to file petitions for them.
Beginning 2008, hiring of nurses in the US started to decline. This was also the beginning of the US economic recession where employees started getting laid off and companies began folding up their operations. Though there are still a few nurses being hired by US employers, their numbers are not significant. Many still hold approved petitions by their employers hoping that when their priority dates becomes current, their petitioning employers will still be in operation and will still be in need of their services. There are many instances where petitioning employers have revoked approved petitions for varied reasons ranging from lack of financial ability to pay to just change in corporate structures.
Future of the ‘Nursing’ Career
The migration history of Filipino nurses goes way back. There is no exact statistics on the number of Filipino nurses in the US but almost every hospital has a Filipino nurse on staff. It would not be hard to envision a scenario where if all Filipino nurses walk out of US hospitals there would be a disaster in the provision of health care.
A recent study published March 17, 2011 by the reputable New England Journal of Medicine found that there is an increase of 2% in patient’s risk of death for work shifts in hospitals that are understaffed. Using scientific methods, the study found that there is a clear connection between in-patient mortality rates and nursing shortage.
Despite the immigration changes that cause delay in the issuance of immigrant visas to foreign nurses, the fact remains that there is still a “shortage of nurses” in the US. Although lay offs are being experienced by US based nurses, this phenomenon is largely brought about by ‘budget’ cuts in state and federal government.
One of the many agenda of the Obama administration is the overhaul of the health care system. While the Republicans are opposing attempts by the Democrats to improve on the health care system, the importance of improving health care remains a priority. However, it may still be some time before these shortages of health care workers will be addressed.
Passion for Care
In the hope of going abroad, many families sacrifice so much for the nursing education of their children. It is the potential of working abroad that motivates many young Filipinos to enter nursing schools. Disappointments are high as these young nurse graduates are faced with limited jobs locally and abroad. The hope, however, is that the current trend is just temporary and it will be a matter of time before the nursing shortage is addressed once again because of the increasing demand for their services in the health care industry. Congratulation to all the new nurses who just graduated and those who just passed the board. If caring is indeed your passion, then you will never allow this temporary situation to affect you. Eventually, you will find yourself practicing your profession wherever you are needed.
(Tancinco may be reached at email@example.com or at 887 7177 or 721 1963)