​Organizations who have taken advantage of opportunities to hire international nurses, as well as other practitioners and workers, agree that this is an important part of a broader strategy to address caregiver shortages. However, federal immigration laws often make it challenging to bring in as many people as they need. AHCA/NCAL advocates for expanding opportunities for international caregivers, including a bipartisan bill, the Healthcare Workforce Resilience Act, which would recapture unused visas for nurses and their families.

Sandgren said, “Across the U.S., we will need 200,000 new nurses each year to replace up to 20 percent of the workforce. We know the current pipeline of nursing students will not meet the demand.” Professionals from abroad are important to help fill the gap, and she added that this will be essential if facilities must comply with new minimum staffing requirements.

It is important for facility leaders to talk to their legislators about the workforce shortages and benefits of enabling the use of immigration and refugee programs to fill existing gaps. They also should be prepared to share information about the depth of the challenge. At the same time, legislators and others need to hear success stories as well as strategies for how communities will work with newcomers, such as setting them up with a community buddy and providing temporary housing.