National Nurse’s Day: The Role of Immigrant Nurses in America

The U.S. healthcare system is in demand. Our study showed that for every healthcare worker seeking a job, there are 4.4 jobs listed for the field, ranging from occupational therapists to surgeons. And while the healthcare industry’s job openings offer opportunities for workers, they raise concerns about how prepared the system is to handle projected demographic shifts — particularly, care for our 76.4 million baby boomers as they age.

Among the most needed workers are nurse practitioners and registered nurses. Our study shows that there are 48.5 job postings for every unemployed nurse practitioner, and there are 11.22 job postings for every unemployed registered nurse. Immigrants play a role filling gaps in the workforce, and today on National Nurse’s Day, we show appreciation for our nation’s nurses, especially foreign-born nurses who provide quality healthcare for Americans.

As in many fields, bilingual skills are of increasing importance in the healthcare sector. Studies show that when nurses can communicate with patients in their preferred language, patients are better educated in their healthcare choices and more satisfied with their care. Yet bilingual nurses can be hard to find. Our research shows that demand for bilingual nurses has increased in recent years. For example, the Olympia Medical Center, a California healthcare group employing many nurses, listed Korean as a job requirement in 65.9 percent of their job listings. We need nurses who can communicate and meet the needs of our increasingly diverse population.

Given the important role of immigrant nurses who care for our community members, we believe a smarter U.S. immigration system would allow the healthcare industry to hire the talent it requires to keep our country healthy.

by Wylie Chang

About NAE

New American Economy is a bipartisan research and advocacy organization fighting for smart federal, state, and local immigration policies that help grow our economy and create jobs for all Americans. More…