February 20, 2020

Use of internationally educated nurses in US hospitals

By: Judy Mathias
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Editor's Note

US hospitals with more internationally trained nurses have more stable, educated, nursing workforces, and collaboration among healthcare professionals is not hindered, this study finds.

Researchers analyzed 2013 survey data from the National Database of Nursing Quality Indicators that included responses from 24,045 nurses (2,156 were trained outside the US) working on 958 units in 160 US acute care hospitals. Collaboration was measured using a nurse-nurse interaction scale and a nurse-physician interaction scale.


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Among the findings on units with higher proportions of internationally educated nurses:

  • no decrease in collaboration among nurses and between nurses and physicians
  • nurses with higher levels of education
  • less turnover.

On the other hand, these hospitals had worse nurse staffing levels or higher patient-to-nurse ratios, despite these nurses being recruited to address shortages.

Given the nursing workforce shortage, nurse managers and hospital administrators should not be reluctant to hire qualified internationally educated nurses to fill vacancies, the authors say.

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