NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


July 16, 2004

Up to 15,000 Canadian nurses who work in the United States may have to leave their jobs on July 26 when the final provisions of an eight-year-old immigration law take effect. The law will require that Canadian nurses -- attracted to the United States because of higher wages -- earn U.S. licenses through a series of proficiency and English-competency tests.

The current nursing shortage is expected to get worse, according to health authorities:

  • Canadians make up about 40 percent of nurses at health care facilities near the border.
  • There are currently 100,000 vacant nursing jobs in the United States, a number that will rise to 275,000 when the oldest baby boomers reach retirement.
  • Nearly 40 percent of nurses work shifts of 12 hours or more, resulting in "more errors in care."

Hospitals are increasingly turning to foreign-trained nurses to fill open spots. However, health authorities worry that recruiting nurses from such countries as India, Nigeria and Kenya will leave those places without much-needed health care staff.

Source: M.A.J. McKenna, "Nursing shortage about to get worse," Atlanta Journal-Constitution, July 14, 2004.


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