As Foreign Nurses Fill U.S. Jobs, Concerns About Abuses Mount

Posted by Sarah Rubenstein 

As the nursing shortage deepens in the U.S., nurses from other countries have been picking up some of the slack. But there’s concern that foreign nurses aren’t being treated as well as their U.S. counterparts.

“We’ve heard anecdotal stories of nurses who are abused — there are pay issues, working-condition issues,” Cheryl Peterson, director of the department of nursing practice and policy for the American Nurses Association, told the Washington Post. That association and a number of other health-care groups have created a code of ethics meant to protect foreign nurses from abusive employment practices, the Post reports.

Archiel Buagas, a 28-year-old nurse who trained in the Philippines, told WaPo that when she came to the U.S. a few years back, her recruitment agency didn’t honor promises to have the proper paperwork in place when she got to work. It also placed her with a different employer than the one with which she’d signed a contract. After connecting with a lawyer, she found at least a dozen other Filipino nurses who’d had similar issues with the same recruiter.

The health groups that created the ethics code also said some foreign nurses are given jobs beneath their skill level that American nurses don’t want to do, and are paid less than American nurses. The code lays out guidelines on such issues and also provides summaries of relevant employment laws and information on training and support of foreign nurses.