Caution: Rant Ahead
First let me say this: I am no racist. I'm not going to get up on some sort of soapbox about how "real" Americans are getting cheated out of jobs. The man immigrated legally--he's a real American. I think it's great, and an example of the pioneer spirit upon which this nation was founded that he can realize a dream and improve his life. And obviously, we need him. But here are my issues:
1. America does indeed have a staggering nursing shortage. Huge. But America also has a huge number of people--hundreds of thousands--who want to be nurses but can't get into a program because there are so few openings for student nurses. Between 200 and 500 people will likely apply to my school this Spring; only 30 will get in. The rest will have to wait for next year and then may still not get in. This is just one school. There are several colleges in our area alone that have the same kinds of numbers. If there are 10 schools here with nursing programs, and all of them have 300 applicants, that's what--2700 possible nurses being turned away. And that's only Seattle.
2. The Phillipines have an even worse shortage of healthcare professionals--doctors and nurses alike. Already, people there have to travel huge distances to get any care at all. They apparently tried to get doctors to sign a pledge agreeing to stay in the country for 3 years but less than half of them agreed to sign it. At the rate that their people are coming here, they will be in dire straits in very short order. And that's only the Phillipines.
See where I'm going with this? The American government, given the twin problems of too few nurses and too many people who want to be nurses came up with this solution: let's get nurses from other countries! What?? I need x, there's a ton of x right here....so I'm going to go somewhere else and steal someone else's x? A three-year-old has better problem solving capabilities than this.
There are recruiters who meet foreign nurses at airports, take them to cramped, rather horrible living quarters, get them jobs at nursing homes, and leave them to function. In the Phillipines, a doctor makes maybe $300 a month. A registered nurse in this country on average makes $4000 a month. The article didn't say how much this nurse (a doctor in his own country, remember--he was going to be a much needed neurologist and was, in fact, the top doctor in his country) is getting paid, but I'll bet it ain't no $4000. That's one of the problems that occurs frequently with imported labor--it's too easy to pay them way more than they're used to without actually paying them what they're worth. Exploitation, we call it.
And then there's the matter of the country left behind. How long, I wonder, before we start holding fundraisers for the people in the Phillipines who lack basic health care? How long before we're sending groups of doctors and nurses there on mercy missions because all their best people came here? Irony, anyone? Careful--it's the bitter kind.
It is the arrogance of the United States government yet again. It is expensive to solve the real problem--specifically, lack of available training for nursing students--so we'll just encourage other countries to give us their people. Who cares if those countries suffer, if people die from lack of health care? We're America--who matters more than us? We're the most powerful country in the world...who's going to stop us?
Have you ever seen someone with one pretty good car cannabalize a not so good car in order to put the parts in the good one? The cannabalized one always ends up in the junkyard when the mechanic is through with it. That's what we're doing to countries less developed than our own, and I am ashamed of us for it. They are not less worthy than we are, but we are treating them as if they were. I want the government to step up. I want them to see why we have a nursing shortage and work to solve that problem where it starts. How about funding more nursing education? How about funding colleges to pay nursing educators more money (they can make more money nursing than they can teaching....which is why it's so hard to find teachers)? How about funding the creation of schools just for nursing? How about accepting the truth that we will have to spend money to fix this problem of our healthcare system, which right now is sinking like a brick in a water tank?
Even better: how about taking responsibility for our own problems and deciding to solve them at no one else's expense?
Now that would really be news.