According to a 2012 “United States Registered Nurse Workforce Report Card and Shortage Forecast,” published in the American Journal of Medical Quality,
“With an aging U.S. population, health care demand is growing at an unprecedented pace . . . The number of states receiving a grade of “D” or “F” for their RN shortage ratio will increase from 5 in 2009 to 30 by 2030, for a total national deficit of 918,232 RN jobs. There will be significant RN workforce shortages throughout the country in 2030; the western region will have the largest shortage ratio of 389 RN jobs per 100,000.”
The situation is no better in other allied healthcare occupations. According to the Department of Labor’s Occupational Outlook Handbook by 2022, employment of Physical Therapists is expected to skyrocket by 36 percent. The same is true of Occupational Therapists (29 percent), Pharmacists (14 percent), and Speech Language Pathologists (19 percent).
Contrary to some public perception, International Healthcare Professionals are not undereducated. Prior to issuance of a visa, the International Healthcare Professional’s education, training, past licenses, and experience must be verified and proved that it is authentic and comparable to an American healthcare worker of the same type. International Healthcare Professionals must pass English fluency exams prior to visa issuance.
International Healthcare Professionals are also not underpaid. Because of strict USCIS and DOL wage requirements, International Healthcare Professionals must be paid the greater of prevailing and actual wages. International Healthcare Professionals cannot have their hours reduced. The employer must pay the guaranteed minimum hours unless the International Healthcare Professional is unavailable for work because of non-work related factors, such as the worker’s own voluntary request for time off, or in other circumstances where the worker is unable to work.
The PERM labor certification process guarantees that there are no US workers ready, willing, and able of performing the position before any International Healthcare Professional is granted an immigrant visa. Employers cannot make International Healthcare Professionals sign onerous contracts, including those contain penalty clauses.
Recent studies are pointing to the high quality of care provided by International Healthcare Professionals and the added value that they bring to the US healthcare industry. Patricia Cortes, Assistant Professor, Markets, Public Policy and Law, Boston University, authored a 2012 study, Relative Quality Of Foreign Nurses In The United States.
She found that,
"foreign nurses, in particular Filipinos, tend to work in more demanding settings and maintain less desirable schedules - they are more likely to work in hospitals, work full-time, and do shift work, as compared to their native counterparts.
Natives are more likely to work part-time and choose jobs with standard schedules - for example, they tend to work in physicians’ offices and schools, etc. In terms of educational background, the majority of foreign nurses have at least a bachelor’s degree, whereas a larger fraction of natives have an associate degree. A more educated nurse workforce (as measured by the share of nurses in a hospital holding a bachelor’s degree) has been associated with better patient outcomes and higher nurse productivity."