Hiring More Mexican Nurses Could Alleviate Statewide Shortage
California hospitals could look to Mexico to recruit nurses, but many nurses' lack of English language skills lingers as a major deterrent, the San Diego Union-Tribune reports.
An unlimited number of Mexican nurses could work in the U.S. under a special provision of the North American Free Trade Agreement, but few Mexican nurses have come to the U.S. under the provision, according to the Union-Tribune. Between January 2005 and September 2007, 61 Mexican-educated nurses were licensed in California, according to the state Board of Registered Nursing.
Advocates argue that an increase of Mexican nurses could help fill a shortage of bilingual and bicultural medical personnel in regions with large Latin American immigrant populations.
Hiring more Mexican nurses also could help alleviate a statewide shortage. California has the lowest number of registered nurses per capita in the U.S., according to the Union-Tribune.
Although thousands of Mexican nurses have the equivalent of a U.S. undergraduate degree in nursing, the majority lack the English language skills to work at a U.S. hospital.
Douglas Keiller -- director of the Institute of California Bilingual Medical Staffing, which recruits Mexican nurses -- estimated that 1% of Mexican-educated nurses have the credentials and language skills to obtain a U.S. nursing license.
Other barriers include an attitude by many potential employers that the quality of nursing education is less in Mexico (Dibble, San Diego Union-Tribune, 1/13).