A more holistic evaluation shows greater “human capital” among long-term care registered nurses who are immigrants to the United States.
When assessing the skills and competencies or “human capital” of long-term care registered nurses in the US, studies often focus solely on years of experience and traditional educational backgrounds. However, the new study finds that by incorporating criteria such as ability to speak multiple languages, additional certificates or trainings, and licenses to practice in multiple states, immigrant nurses often represent far more human capital than their American-born counterparts.
Roy Thompson, a postdoctoral fellow in the University of Missouri Sinclair School of Nursing who immigrated from Jamaica to earn a doctoral degree in nursing at Duke University, analyzed demographic data of more than 1,800 nurses working in nursing homes or long-term care rehabilitation centers in the US.
“By incorporating the additional criteria, we get a much better model for comparison, and I wanted to show that immigrant nurses often have a wealth of transferrable skills, are more mobile and adaptable given their experiences practicing in different long-term care settings,” Thompson says. “Immigrant nurses are crucial for diversifying the nursing workforce, as they bring a different cultural lens, a different racial lens, and a different linguistic lens.”
Thompson says most immigrant nurses belonging to racial and ethnic minority groups migrate to the US from the Philippines, Sub-Saharan Africa, and the English Caribbean. While they might have a significant amount of human capital, they are often hired for underpaid, entry-level positions and forced to work their way up after arriving in the US.
“Previous research shows immigrant nurses experience discrimination, racism, exploitation, inequitable pay, and unfavorable treatment at work. I wanted to study the impact immigrant nurses have on long-term care,” Thompson says. “For example, there was some evidence that immigrant nurses were more likely to be assigned to COVID-19 units in long-term care during the pandemic. In fact, about 30% of nurses who died from COVID-19 were from the Philippines. While most nursing research focuses on hospitals, clinical research, patient populations, and patient health outcomes, nursing homes and long-term care facilities tend to be an understudied, yet overregulated sector. I wanted to look deeper into the nursing home workforce itself.”
The long-term goal of Thompson’s research is to eventually improve immigration policies that currently typically restrict nurse migration to the US.
“Immigrant nurses are highly qualified, highly skilled, and come to the US with knowledge that the nursing workforce needs to improve health outcomes,” Thompson says. “For example, previous studies have shown that nursing homes with higher proportions of immigrant nurses tend to improve health outcomes such as decreased rates of pain, use of physical restraints, and falls.”
While Thompson became the first Black male to ever earn a doctoral degree in nursing from Duke University, he hopes to see more highly skilled immigrant nurses working in nursing homes going forward.
“As the median age of Americans continues to rise, we are starting to see more diverse patient populations receiving care in nursing homes,” Thompson says. “So ideally, we would want a more diverse workforce to better reflect the patients they are serving.”
The study appears in the Journal of Nursing Regulation. Thompson conducted the study while at Duke.
Source: University of Missouri