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Although Internationally Educated Nurses (IENs) are often associated with struggles with differences in language, culture, and healthcare systems, they may also “contribute to a more educated and stable nursing workforce in patient care units” according to a new study published in Nursing Economic$.
One point raised in the study was that units with internationally educated nurses tend to experience less turnover. The authors remark that “previous qualitative research has shown IENs are more inclined to stay on a unit longer.” Results also indicated that internationally educated nurses stay on their unit longer than peer US-educated nurses, and that the overall tenure of nurses on units with a higher proportion of IENs is longer than the average. In addition to reducing expenses for hiring and training new staff, the authors suggest that lower turnover rates can have a positive effect on collaboration among nurses.
Units with a higher number of Internationally Educated Nurses also included a greater proportion of staff with BSN degrees. This finding, the study authors suggest, is owing to the fact that internationally educated nurses “are more likely to have a baccalaureate degree to qualify for the U.S. nursing licensure exam (NCLEX-RN).” This is all to the good, as a higher level of education in nurses has been shown to lead to better health outcomes for patients. “Research shows that having more nurses with bachelor degrees improves patient safety, so it is possible that internationally educated nurses are contributing to improved health outcomes,” said Chenjuan Ma, PhD, an assistant professor at NYU Meyers and the study’s lead author.
The study was based on 2013 survey data from the National Database of Nursing Quality Indicators, and analyzed responses from 24,045 nurses (2,156 of whom were trained outside the U.S.) working on 958 units across 160 U.S. acute care hospitals. The authors of the study are Chenjuan Ma, Lauren Ghazal, Sophia Chou, Emerson Ea, and Allison Squires of New York University’s Rory Meyers College of Nursing.
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