Comparison of U.S. and Overseas RN Training

By Christine Whitmarsh, RN, BSN

In recent blogs, I have been exploring the ramifications of a statement made by President Obama in his recent health summit. The president expressed concern over the apparent need to bring additional foreign trained RNs into the country to help with our nation’s nursing shortage. Following are some highlighted training requirements for registered nurses overseas. It should be noted that all nurses recruited to work in the U.S. must pass the standard NCLEX board exam.

United Kingdom: Registered nursing is regulated by the ‘Nursing and Midwifery Council’ with 3-4 years of training divided 50/50 between classroom and clinicals. Unlike in the U.S. the nursing student chooses a specialty area while still in school (adult, child, mental health or learning disabilities nursing). As the council name indicates, the nursing student who specializes in adult nursing can make the transition to midwifery by completing an 18 month program. Students also receive a financial stipend from the government to support them during the training period.

India: India offers a four year program, similar to the U.S. BSN program as well as a three year program for basic staff nurse employment.500 nursing schools accept nearly 10,000 new students per year. In addition to standard classroom and clinical work, students attend lectures by specialists in various medical fields.

Philippines: Studies show that the U.S. recruits a greater number of nurses from this country than any other primarily because of the curriculum similarities, use of the same textbooks and that Filipino nurses speak English (versus language barrier issues experienced by some nurses from Japan and Korea for example) . The main difference that makes for a period of adjustment for these nurses, is becoming familiar with equipment used in U.S. hospitals

In many ways, recruiting foreign nurses is the ultimate example of long distance travel nursing. Hospitals typically pay a 5K-$10K fee to the recruiting agency, per travel nurse for a 2-3 year assignment (versus the standard 3 month U.S. travel nurse assignment).

RNs and travel nurses, I want to hear your voice on this.
Regardless of the equivalency between foreign and U.S. based nurse training programs, how do you feel about the strategy of bringing additional foreign trained nurses into America to remedy the nursing shortage?

Data Sources: Wikpedia,

Christine Whitmarsh is a Registered Nurse with a BSN from the University of Rhode Island. She is a freelance health journalist and medical writer and a contributor to Travel Nurse Source and Allied Travel Careers.

Author: Travel Nurse Source

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