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Original Research: Perceptions of Employment-Based Discrimination Among Newly Arrived Foreign-Educated Nurses

Pittman, Patricia PhD; Davis, Catherine PhD, RN; Shaffer, Franklin EdD, RN, FAAN; Herrera, Carolina-Nicole MA; Bennett, Cudjoe MPH

AJN The American Journal of Nursing: January 2014 - Volume 114 - Issue 1 - p 26–35
doi: 10.1097/01.NAJ.0000441792.93279.29
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Objective To determine whether foreign-educated nurses (FENs) perceived they were treated equitably in the U.S. workplace during the last period of high international recruitment from 2003 to 2007.

Background With experts predicting that isolated nursing shortages could return as soon as 2015, it is important to examine the lessons learned during the last period of high international recruitment in order to anticipate and address problems that may be endemic to such periods. In this baseline study, we asked FENs who were recruited to work in the United States between 2003 and 2007 about their hourly wages; clinical and cultural orientation to the United States; wages, benefits, and shift or unit assignments; and job satisfaction.

Methods In 2008, we administered a survey to FENs who were issued VisaScreen certificates by the Commission on Graduates of Foreign Nursing Schools International between 2003 and 2007. We measured four outcomes of interest (hourly wages, job satisfaction, adequacy of orientation, and perceived discrimination) and conducted descriptive and regression analyses to determine if country of education and recruitment model were correlated with the outcomes.

Results We found that 51% of respondents reported receiving insufficient orientation and 40% reported at least one discriminatory practice with regard to wages, benefits, or shift or unit assignments. FENs educated in low-income countries and those recruited by staffing agencies were significantly more likely than other FENs to report that they receive inequitable treatment compared with their U.S. counterparts.

Conclusions These findings raise both practical and ethical concerns that should interest those striving to create positive health care workplace environments and to ensure staff retention. Health care leaders should take steps to ensure that FENs are, and perceive that they are, treated equitably.

Practical and ethical concerns are raised in this study, which sought to determine whether foreign-educated nurses perceived they were treated equitably in the U.S. workplace.Supplemental digital content is available in the text.

Patricia Pittman is an associate professor in the Department of Health Policy and Cudjoe Bennett is a senior research assistant in the Department of Global Health, both in the School of Public Health and Health Services, George Washington University (GWU), Washington, DC. Catherine Davis is director of global learning, research and development and Franklin Shaffer is chief executive officer, both at CGFNS International, Philadelphia. Carolina-Nicole Herrera is director of research at the Health Care Cost Institute, Washington, DC. Contact author: Patricia Pittman, ppittman@gwu.edu. This study was conducted in partnership with CGFNS International, which procured participants and administered the survey directly to its VisaScreen certificate holders; a team at GWU conducted the data analysis under a grant from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation (10-97011-000-GSS). The authors and planners have disclosed no potential conflicts of interest, financial or otherwise.

© 2014 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins. All rights reserved.