40% of foreign-trained nurses report discrimination

Forty percent of foreign-educated nurses (FENs) in U.S. hospitals report they are discriminated against in shift assignments, wages or benefits, according to a new study published in the American Journal of Nursing.

For the study, 502 FENs recruited between 2003 and 2007 were surveyed about their countries of origin, whether a staffing agency recruited them and various other questions about their perceived workplace treatment, according to lead researcher Patricia Pittman, Ph.D., an associate professor of health policy at the George Washington University School of Public Health and Health Services, and her team.

In addition to the 40 percent reporting inferior wages, benefits or shift/unit placement, a small majority (51 percent) of FENs also said they received insufficient orientation, according to the study.

When the research team analyzed the data further, they learned:

  • Nearly 30 percent of all registered nurses (RNs) surveyed did not believe their wages were comparable to that of their American-trained peers;

  • About 16 percent of RNs and 44 percent of FENs recruited by staffing agencies believed their benefits were inferior; and

  • Approximately 18 percent of FENs surveyed said they perceived their shift or unit assignments as inferior to those of their American-trained peers.

FENs who reported such perceived discrimination also had lower levels of job satisfaction, which can increase a hospital's turnover rate and increase costs due to the need for retraining, according to the study.

"These findings are alarming," Pittman told News-Medical.net. "If confirmed by additional research, this survey raises a host of troubling ethical and practical concerns for health care facilities working to retain nursing staff and provide high quality care to patients."

Further research is needed to determine whether the perceived discrimination against FENs is not due to other factors, such as lack of experience, Pittman added.

To learn more:
- read the study abstract
- here's the article