Improved Immigration System Could Help Address Nursing Shortage

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Nursing Shortage

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While it has been widely reported that "the dysfunctional U.S.immigration system contributes to labor shortages in agriculture," aless familiar fact is "that low green card quotas have also left theU.S. with an undersupply of nurses that threatens patient care," the Wall Street Journal writes in an editorial. The editorial cites a new study by Stuart Anderson of the National Foundation for American Policy,which finds that the "aging U.S. population and low domestic productionof nurses in the U.S. has created a nursing shortage that carriesdeadly consequences."

The Journal notes thatdespite "more interest in the profession" among U.S. residents,"faculty shortages and inadequate facilities have prevented nursingprograms from expanding enrollment." It continues, "When growers can'tfind field hands, food rots and businesses lose money. But whenhospitals can't find nurses, patient care suffers."

The Journalstates that the "long-term solution here is to increase nursing facultyand teaching facilities. But in the short run, Congress could helpenormously by easing the limit on foreign nurses allowed entry to theU.S." The editorial concludes, "More such green cards are needed now,before hospital understaffing contributes to more preventable illnessand death" (Wall Street Journal, 9/12).

Reprinted with permission from kaisernetwork.org. Youcan view the entire Kaiser DailyHealth Policy Report, search the archives, and sign up for email deliveryat kaisernetwork.org/email. The Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report is published for kaisernetwork.org, afree service of The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation.

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