U.S. hospitals and staffing companies are bringing roughly 1,000 nurses a month from poor countries to combat healthcare shortages, rather than recruiting and training Americans to fill the nursing jobs, according to media reports.
The New York Times described the extraction migration process on January 24:
About 1,000 nurses are arriving in the United States each month from African nations, the Philippines, and the Caribbean, said Sinead Carbery, president of O’Grady Peyton International, an international recruiting firm. While the United States has long drawn nurses from abroad, she said demand from American health care facilities is the highest she’s seen in three decades. There are an estimated 10,000 foreign nurses with U.S. job offers on waiting lists for interviews at American embassies around the world for the required visas.
According to Kevin Lynn, founder of Doctors Without Jobs, the medical migration of nurses and doctors “ultimately is about the money.”
The role of economics in the healthcare migration was alluded to in the New York Time’s headline to the article: “Rich Countries Lure Health Workers From Low-Income Nations to Fight Shortages.” The admission is a break from the paper’s normal tone, which usually focuses on migrant family dramas rather than economic impacts.
“The medical establishment, just like any other corporation, is looking for efficiency — faster, cheaper,” Lynn told Breitbart.
Lynn campaigns for American medical graduates who routinely lose vital training slots in government-funded residency programs to imported foreign medical graduates. Also of concern are the labor rights and healthcare quality issues the employer’s desire for imported doctors and nurses creates. “It’s not just about them being less expensive,” Lynn said. “It’s about them being more pliable because they’re chained [by their conditional visa] to the employer.” Without citizenship that allows them to live and work in the United States, the imported workers cannot argue against cost-cutting policies by the executives who have the power to send them back home.
Failing to train and employ American workers for nursing and doctor jobs also leaves fewer nurses and doctors for poor people in developing countries, such as Zambia, according to the New York Times:
“People are leaving constantly,” said Ms. Mwape, whose inbox is flooded with emails from recruiters letting her know how quickly she can get a visa to the United States. The net effect, she said, “is that we are handicapped.”
“It is the most-skilled nurses that we lose and you can’t replace them,” Ms. [nurse Lillian] Mwape said. “Now in the I.C.U. we might have four or five trained critical-care nurses, where we should have 20. The rest are general nurses, and they can’t handle the burden of Covid.”
According to Lynn, this government-enabled, employee-run extraction process ensures that both the people in developing countries and Americans lose quality care, while many Americans lose out on a healthcare career.
“Wealthy Americans probably aren’t seeing this [replacement], but people on your typical bronze and silver plans are, and certainly the people who don’t have access to health insurance are seeing this,” Lynn said.
While COVID-induced staff shortages have shined a spotlight on the hidden process of healthcare extraction, business groups and their immigration lawyers have long been pushing for rules that would allow them to import an unlimited number of low-wage healthcare employees. “The [annual] cap [of 85,000 work visas] should be repealed altogether for the healthcare sector, as it is for the university and non-profit sector already,” advocate Daniel Griswold told the House committee on small business in 2019. While the demands grew louder with the advent of CoVID-19, the cries went unheeded while President Trump was in office.
Under President Biden, however, more doorways are being opened for employees to hire foreign white-collar workers, despite concerns over the loss of many Fortune 500 jobs to corporate-recruited H-1B visa workers. According to Breitbart, roughly 1.5 million U. S. jobs are already held by visa workers, rather than by Americans, forcing down wages for many white-collar jobs.
In November 2021, the hospital sector asked President Biden’s deputies to accelerate the visa review process for foreign nurses, citing workforce gaps as many Americans, weary from the coronavirus fight, quit the medical sector in 2020 and 2021.
Employers are also being forced to pay higher wages to American nurses who keep working, even as roughly 20 percent of their peers quit the sector.
Meanwhile, nursing groups are blaming the employers for not recruiting, hiring, and training enough young Americans.
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