Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Staffers eager to welcome international nurses

Teams are excited about the international nurses project, which helps us keep pace with growth.

As we prepare for the arrival of the first nurses in our international nursing program, leaders say the new staff members will be key to CoxHealth’s continued expansion.

“A nursing shortage is facing the United States, and we must try new solutions to fill the gap,” says Karen Kramer, chief nursing officer. “We always want to supply the health care that our community needs, and we feel that bringing nurses to us is a good way of doing that.”

CoxHealth is still actively recruiting local nurses and health care professionals, and this project won’t replace traditional recruitment efforts.

“The need for nurses is only going to continue to grow,” says Kramer. “Supporting that need through international hires doesn’t solve the problem, but it does allow us to greater support our patients.”

Kim Cash, administrative director of nursing, has led the project, working with planning, recruiting and developing customized onboarding for the first nurses.

Nurse educator Sarah Gamble was on the team that participated in Skype interviews with the first nurses who will be arriving in the coming months. She was immediately impressed with the candidates.

“These nurses have a lot of clinical experience, they just need to learn how we do things in the U.S. and here at CoxHealth,” Gamble says.

“I was blown away. Most of them have been nurses longer than most of us in the education department,” she says. The team saw nurses with more than 10 years of experience in a variety of areas who were excited about practicing in the U.S.

New nurses will attend systemwide orientation and then spend time dedicated to learning computer systems and working hands-on with equipment in our simulation labs. After the orientation, which lasts about three weeks, the nurses will join nursing floors and work alongside a peer mentor for six weeks.

Mentors are currently being trained and staff members are eager to get started with their new colleagues. Nurse managers like Stacey Cannon say their teams are looking forward to the energy their new co-workers will bring

“They’re excited! The international nurses are doing a lot of things on their end to get to the states to get to work here at CoxHealth,” Cannon says. “For our staff to see how much they want to be here, just makes them more excited to have them as co-workers.”

Katie Lane, nurse manager on 800 West, agrees.

“They’re very passionate about being bedside nurses and they really portrayed that in their interviews,” she says. “They are very excited to be here, this is the big leagues to them.”

Two of the first group of nurses will join 800 West and Lane says the team is ready to welcome them with open arms.

“We work really hard to make 8 West and the Jared Neuroscience Center more than co-workers – more like a family,” she says. “The staff understand that we can get them here, but it’s up to us to welcome them and get them to stay. We really hope we can bring them into our family.”

Gamble says it’s impressive to see the commitment of nurses who have worked to come to the United States.

“You don’t just decide you want to be a nurse in the U.S. It’s years of work to get to this point,” she says. “People want to build a life; that’s a huge boon to our organization.”

International nursing facts

While recruiting internationally is not widespread in the Midwest, hospitals across the United States have done so for the past 50 years.

Foreign-educated nurses work through a rigorous process to achieve a nursing license in the United States. Their transcripts are examined and they must pass the Commission on Graduates of Foreign Nursing Schools Certification Program (CGFNS) as well as pass the NCLEX.

• In the Philippines, there are only BSN programs and the curriculum matches closely that of the U.S.
• Even though English is an official language in the Philippines, nurses must still pass an English proficiency exam.
• The nurses are paid a prevailing wage, which is set by the Department of Labor. This wage is comparable to the rate a CoxHealth nurse earns.

Part of an ongoing recruitment effort

We’re working hard to keep the best nurses in our system and since 2014, CoxHealth has increased the minimum nursing pay by 7.95%, which outpaces the average statewide increase of about 3.5% in the same timeframe. We’re also offering tuition reimbursement and loan forgiveness to our nurses. Talent Acquisition currently has outreach efforts with 38 schools. We have also expanded the Global Float pool and created additional support positions.