Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report Summarizes Editorials on U.S. Recruitment of Foreign Nurses
A provision in a Senate-approved immigration bill (S 2611) would remove the cap on the number of special visas granted to foreign nurses. According to Holly Burkhalter of Physicians for Human Rights, the provision could jeopardize efforts to control the spread of diseases such as HIV/AIDS and malaria worldwide by attracting more health workers to the U.S. from developing countries where they already are in short supply (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 5/24). Summaries of two editorials on the provision and efforts to recruit foreign nurses to the U.S. appear below.
Las Vegas Sun: Although the provision -- which would drop the cap until 2014 -- "could help lessen the pain [U.S.] states are feeling from a chronic nursing shortage," the better solution would be a "serious, home-grown approach," a Sun editorial says. Public health officials and lawmakers have to address low wages, deficiency of career advancement prospects and the "tough" working conditions of nurses -- which include "piles of paperwork, mandatory overtime and staggering patient loads," according to the editorial. The "massive problem" is "getting much worse and fast," the Sun says, concluding, "While there are no quick fixes, hospitals, colleges and universities, states and Congress need a creative, comprehensive plan that addresses the nursing shortage as a long-term crisis" (Las Vegas Sun, 5/28).
New York Times: "The idea of the richest country in the world skimming the scant cream off the health care staffs of poor countries is disturbing," and it is "incumbent" on the U.S. to begin "trying to solve" the nursing shortage "on its own," a Times editorial says. The editorial says that skilled foreign nurses should not be prevented from immigrating to the U.S., but increased government spending on nursing education programs and increased salaries for nurses could help prevent U.S. hospitals from "looking overseas to solve some of the current nursing shortage" (New York Times, 5/27).