A recent study conducted by the University of Missouri has shed light on the immense value that immigrant nurses bring to long-term care facilities. In fact, they often possess more "human capital" compared to their American-born counterparts.
What Is Human Capital?
Human capital, a term used to describe the skills, knowledge, and experiences that an individual possesses, is a critical factor in assessing the capabilities of nurses working in long-term care facilities. Traditionally, these assessments have focused on elements such as years of experience and educational backgrounds. However, this study from the University of Missouri considers other crucial factors such as multilingual abilities, additional certificates or trainings, and licenses to practice in multiple states.
The study was led by Roy Thompson, a postdoctoral fellow at the MU Sinclair School of Nursing, who himself immigrated from Jamaica to earn a doctoral degree in nursing at Duke University. Thompson analyzed demographic data of more than 1,800 nurses working in nursing homes or long-term care rehabilitation centers across the U.S. His findings were illuminating.
Thompson's team found that immigrant nurses were far more likely to speak multiple languages, hold additional certificates, and possess licenses to practice in more states than American-born nurses. This suggests that immigrant nurses bring a wealth of transferrable skills and are highly adaptable due to their experiences in different care settings.
Moreover, immigrant nurses contribute significantly to diversifying the nursing workforce. They bring different cultural, racial, and linguistic perspectives, which can be invaluable in a multicultural society. Most immigrant nurses belong to racial and ethnic minority groups and migrate to the U.S. from the Philippines, Sub-Saharan Africa, and the English Caribbean islands.
Despite their valuable human capital, immigrant nurses often face challenges. They are frequently hired for underpaid, entry-level positions and are required to work their way up after arriving in the U.S. They also face discrimination, racism, and inequitable pay.
However, Thompson's research indicates that the presence of immigrant nurses in long-term care facilities can lead to improved patient health outcomes. Previous studies have shown that nursing homes with higher proportions of immigrant nurses tend to have decreased rates of pain, use of physical restraints, and falls among patients.
The Importance of Diversity
As the median age of Americans continues to rise, it is crucial to have a diverse workforce that reflects the diverse patient population receiving care in nursing homes. Therefore, it is essential to acknowledge the immense value that immigrant nurses bring to long-term care facilities and work towards improving their working conditions and recognition.
Thompson's research aims to influence immigration policies that currently restrict nurse migration to the U.S., recognizing the vital role that immigrant nurses play in the healthcare sector. This study serves as a reminder of the affluent human capital that immigrant nurses bring to the nursing workforce. Their skills, experiences, and adaptability make them invaluable assets to long-term care facilities. It also underscores the need for equitable treatment and recognition of their contributions to healthcare in the U.S.
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