With the Omicron variant infecting nurses all over the country, hospitals are turning to international nurses to fill staff shortages.
Billings Clinic in Montana currently has contracts with two dozen international nurses. Officials say it is one of “scores” of hospitals around the U.S. bringing in nurses from other nations to handle staffing challenges such as retirements.
According to the report, there is a backlog of over 5,000 international nurses from countries such as Ghana, Thailand, and the Philippines who are awaiting visa approval to work in U.S. hospitals.
“We are seeing an absolute boom in requests for international nurses,” Lesley Hamilton-Powers, a board member of AAIHR and a vice president for Avant Healthcare Professionals in Florida, said.
The demand for more international nurses comes as thousands of nurses and healthcare professionals around the country are being laid off due to coronavirus vaccine requirements. However, most facilities with a vaccine mandate have lost 1% or less of their staff. The number of nurses getting infected with Omicron has only exacerbated the staffing crisis. Even if their symptoms are mild, they will need to self-isolate for at least five days, according to the latest guidelines from the CDC.