New Ethics Guidelines Protect Foreign-Trained Nurses

Ruzanna Harutyunyan's picture

A recent Washington Post article about new ethics guidelines to protect foreign-trained nurses from abusive employment practices at U.S. medical facilities "noted the laudable focus on protecting foreign nurses from exploitation in the United States," but the "code also discourages U.S. companies from hiring nurses from countries with severe shortages of health workers, implying that a qualified nurse from a developing country has less right to apply for migration than a counterpart in a developed country," Samuel Witten, acting assistant secretary of the Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration at the Department of State, writes in a Post letter to the editor.


He writes, "The U.S. government is uncomfortable with the notion that nurses from poor countries are behaving in an unethical manner when they seek better opportunities overseas," adding, "Many factors drive health workers to migrate, including poor working conditions, unpromising economic prospects, lack of professional development opportunities and the desire for a better life for their families."

Witten concludes, "The code contains many positive suggestions for responsible recruitment, but the provision regarding recruiting nurses in developing countries is not one of them" (Witten, Washington Post, 9/28).

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