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.