A Fair Way to Find Nurses

Sunday, September 28, 2008

The Sept. 16 Health article "Code Aims to Aid Nurses," on the new code of ethics for hiring nurses from overseas, noted the laudable focus on protecting foreign nurses from exploitation in the United States. Unfortunately, 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.

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. 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.

The code contains many positive suggestions for responsible recruitment, but the provision regarding recruiting nurses in developing countries is not one of them.

SAMUEL WITTEN

Acting Assistant Secretary

Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration

Department of State

Washington

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