Great Health Divide | Recruiting International Nurses

A nationwide nursing shortage has companies looking outside the U.S. for help.
A nationwide nursing shortage has companies looking outside the U.S. for help.(Gray)
Published: Mar. 16, 2021 at 6:09 PM EDT
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HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) - The COVID-19 pandemic has put a strain on the health care industry, including its supply, resources and providers.

“We can’t get them here fast enough,” said Stacey Dixon-Turvey.

Right now, when it comes medical care, it’s all hands on deck.

Dixon-Turvey is the operations manager for Conexus MedStaff, helping to pair international registered nurses and nursing graduates with hospitals and clinics while coordinating all of the required licensing and immigration paperwork.

“They love the rural areas,” she said. “I always tells them, they say ‘I want to go to New York.’ I say ‘there is no nurse shortage in New York. There’s a nurse shortage in Beckley and Huntington, West Virginia.’ ”

The nursing shortage is felt all across the country, but hits especially hard in rural or underserved communities.

Having these nurses come in for 2.5 to 3 years helps to build the community. They’re bringing in their husband, their children, they’re buying cars, attending schools, they’re eating at our restaurants, going to our grocery stores, they’re a viable economic impact.

Stacey Dixon-Turvey

Travel nursing has become a short-term solution, but international nurses may learn to embed themselves in the community.

“I had a nurse in Prestonsburg, Kentucky, finish her contract went to Cedars Sinai,” said Dixon-Turvey. “They loved her and she came back and said ‘it just didn’t feel like home, it just wasn’t where I wanted to be.’ ”

In rural Appalachia, it’s important to create connections and relationships to provide appropriate medical care, and it becomes a family affair.

“When Mamaw has to go to the doctor, grannie goes with and mom goes with and the grandkids go with,” Dixon-Turvey said. “So, to see the same nurse, time and time again whether it be in the hospital or in the clinic, it’s bringing that sense of family back to health care. Which is what we desperately need.”

Dixon-Turvey says they’ve placed 100 nurses in Beckley between the two hospitals there and have contracts with several other hospitals in our region.

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