The nation’s shortage of nurses is real and its effects are most pronounced in areas of the country that are experiencing rapid population growth, are rural, or whose patient population is in the throws of the Silver Tsunami. To address the nursing void, hospitals, healthcare systems, and skilled nursing facilities do have options beyond traditional hiring methods. Some opt for temporary contract staffing, like travel nurses, while a growing number of organizations are embracing foreign-educated nurses (FENS).
The latter option of FENS is becoming increasingly popular as more Chief Nursing Officers, Talent Acquisition Officers, Chief Financial Officers, and other healthcare administrators discover how optimal the solution really is. While stories of costly and undependable international nurse recruitment agencies are out there, they’re largely irrelevant when dealing with a reputable international staffing brand.
The goal of this article is to help your organization avoid potentially costly mistakes when selecting a provider of Foreign-Educated International Nurses.
There are certain things healthcare organizations must check to ensure they’re dealing with a reputable provider of foreign-educated nurses.
The following is a checklist of 10 key considerations before you make your decision.
1) Brand Recognition
Let’s begin with the obvious – have you ever heard of these people? Take a few minutes and let Google get to the bottom of it. They probably have a website, but do people even visit? Are they on social media? How many likes or followers? You may dismiss these as just vanity numbers, but fellowship says a lot.
If a company has several hundred-thousands people following them on Twitter, LinkedIn or Facebook, it’s probably safe to assume they’re a reputable provider. And if they have that kind of fellowship, they’re probably interacting with their community. How’s their interaction? A brand’s web and social media presence can sometimes say all you need to know.
2) AAIHR Membership
Members of AAIHR sign and must adhere to a strict code. Dealing with an AAIHR member ensures protection for both healthcare staffing providers and their candidates. Endorsing the code means endorsing fair and proper treatment to both clients and candidates. This is especially important when using international talent, as their attitude and performance are often indicative of how they’re being treated by the provider that hired them.
The American Association of International Healthcare Recruiting (AAIHR) is a Delaware not-for-profit 501(c)(6) organization that is the voice of the international healthcare recruitment industry. Formed in 2006, the AAIHR represents the mutual interests of U.S.-based organizations that participate in the recruitment of foreign-educated healthcare professionals. Its goal is to promote legal, ethical, socially responsible, and professional practices for international healthcare recruitment.
3) Joint Commission Certification
Very important when considering an international staffing provider, The Joint Commission is a U.S.-based nonprofit tax-exempt 501 organization that accredits more than 20,000 national healthcare organizations and programs. When assessing your agency, look for the “Gold Seal of Approval.” The Gold Seal Of Approval™ honors companies that fully comply with the Joint Commission’s national set of consensus-based quality standards, as well as those companies who demonstrate a commitment to excellence in providing healthcare staffing.
These standards paint a picture of the qualifications and competency of the company’s staff, as well as the procedures involving the recruitment and retention of healthcare professionals.
Experience is especially important in the international staffing arena. You’ll want to choose an agency with a lengthy record, and for good reason. International staffing providers must clear hurdles that local recruiters don’t have to deal with. For example, visa retrogression happens in countries where EB-3 visa applications exceed the amount of allotted visas.
Work with an international staffing provider that’s endured retrogression before. Agencies that have already endured retrogression understand best practices, have proven financial stability, and usually have nurses from countries not affected by retrogression.
PassportUSA Nurses on Assignment in the USA
5) Longer Assignments, High Conversions
If you’re using international nurse staffing, you’ll undoubtedly want your newly acquired nursing talent to stick around for longer than a traditional 13 week travel nursing assignment. And, honestly, retention of experienced nurses is one of the main reasons why healthcare organizations turn to the recruitment of Foreign-Educated Nurses.
Be sure to ask your International Nurse provider what their retention rate is AND what their (and your) responsibility is if a nurse’s assignment ends prematurely. Many smaller International Nurse Providers simply do not have a roster of nurses they can use to replace early assignment ends and may put 100% of the retention risk and responsibility on the healthcare facility client.
You should expect a turnover rate of FENS that is far less than the 16.8% national RN turnover rate as determined in a 2018 study by Nursing Solutions, Inc.
6) Support After the Contract is Penned
What support and follow-up does the provider offer after you sign the contract? A good international nurse provider will have systems in place to: 1) inform you of how nurse selection process will proceed; 2) keep you up-to-date on the start dates of your selected nurses (or any delays that may be incurred); and 3) ask for and provide feedback on the relationship throughout the entire time the nurses are working.
Great international nurse providers may even offer methods for clients to self-search for suitable healthcare professionals that are available. Such is the case with PassportUSA’s Candidate Search Website.
7) No End-of-Contract Conversion Costs
What happens at the end of the contract period if you want to directly employ the international healthcare professionals? If the staffing provider tells you their is a conversion fee, they aren’t the best choice for you. If conversion to direct employment is not a goal, then this may not matter. So, you’ll want to know the staffing provider’s conversion arrangement upfront and make a smart choice for your organization. PassportUSA does not charge its clients an end-of-assignment conversion fee.
8) Cares for Its Talent
Put it this way, if a provider isn’t taking care of its international nurses, it’s going to create animosity and eventually a negative attitude among them. Your facility and its patients will be left to incur the bad vibes, not the staffing provider.
Ask your provider what lengths they go to ensure their nurses are provided with adequate support, compensation, and benefits. An easy way to assess this is if they’re AAIHR members, as the code bounds them to fair and proper treatment of candidates. But companies can still do more.
PassportUSA, for example, goes to great lengths to assimilate their talent into the United States. Not only do they hand-deliver each candidate, but they take time helping them set up a bank account, get a car, groceries – all of the things these candidates need to live a normal life in the States. Then each international nurse is appointed an internal supervisor and clinical coaching team that support them throughout the duration of their contract.
If the provider you’re working with isn’t taking care of their candidates, it may eventually manifest itself in the form of poor attitude or performance, things you shouldn’t be dealing with.
9) In-House Legal
Does the staffing provider you’re considering have an in-house legal team to deal with all the intricacies of international staffing? While staffing agencies equipped with in-house legal commonly also use outside counsel, the agency with in-house legal can be more responsive to immigration issues that will inevitably arise. Furthermore, an international staffing provider that invests in an in-house legal team is demonstrating seriousness in international healthcare staffing — it is not an “add-on” service to a domestic staffing business.
Lastly, is the staffing agency and/or it’s associated immigration attorneys associated with the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA)? They should be able to stay abreast of the latest news and regulations related to U.S. immigration.
10) Good Reputation
Finally, ask your peers. Check for testimonials, preferably away from the provider’s website. There is no stronger recommendation than one from neutral healthcare administrators who were just in your shoes making the same decisions. Good providers will have good references.
You need to do some due diligence, but it shouldn’t take long. This list is a great way to whittle down your options and arrive at a fair and trusted provider. Now that you know what to look for, international horror stories should sound just as fictitious as the ones about ghosts. Knowing what to look for creates an exponentially better experience.
Interested in learning more? Fill out the response form on this page or click the button below to quickly request more information on our foreign-trained nursing professionals.
PassportUSA is the leading provider of internationally-trained RNs to U.S. healthcare institutions. We have placed several hundred candidates at leading healthcare facilities across the USA. Client healthcare institutions can trust in our service and quality of candidates. Healthcare professionals will enjoy our high ethics and track record of successful U.S. placement.