Financial Daily from THE HINDU group of publications
Thursday, Jan 27, 2005
Industry & Economy - Human Resources
Nurses the new goodwill ambassadors!
P.T. Jyothi Datta
Mumbai , Jan. 26
CAN Uncle Sam's pet grouse against outsourcing to India be nursed back into a healthy working relationship?
Away from the heat of the out-sourcing debate - Indian nurses are, rather inadvertently, becoming goodwill ambassadors for the country, as they do their little bit towards fixing a massive shortage faced by the American healthcare sector.
"There is a severe nursing shortage in the US, where hospitals have to cancel admissions (of patients) because there are no nurses to help," says Dr Mark G. McKenney, Director with Miami-based Job2Career and NICE, an international nurse recruitment and staffing organisation.
There is a shortage of 2.5 lakh nurses in the US this year and this is expected to double in 10 years, he told Business Line, citing statistics published by the US Department of Labour.
Like several staffing organisations that have in the past touched base here, Dr McKenney too was in Mumbai to recruit nurses from the country.
Indian nurses have been crossing the shores, for some time now, in search of better career prospects. But the balance is increasingly getting tipped in favour of the Indian nurse, as more head-hunters, specially from the US, scout Indian shores.
Commenting on whether this organised US effort will boomerang into another outsourcing grouse at a later date, he responds: "This is more in-sourcing than outsourcing. It will be a win-win situation as the nurse crisis facing the American healthcare industry will be addressed to some extent. Besides, there is no American nurse who does not already have a job."
About 150 nurses have already been recruited from India by his organisation. Another 200 have got green-card approvals and in the forthcoming year an additional 200 would be recruited , he said.
And it does not work out less expensive to hire Indian nurses, he says, referring to the "cheap labour" observations. By law, institutions are expected to pay the nurses on par with their American counterparts. Also, unlike some other countries, an Indian nurse's specialisation is also protected in the US, he points out. For example, a nurse in the intensive care unit will continue in the same line even in the US, he explains.
A representative with a group of US-based patent law experts recently in Mumbai admits that healthcare is a touchy subject that figured prominently even in the debates before the US presidential elections.
The estimates by the Government 10 years ago on the nurse requirement in the US did not take into account the increasing ageing population, decreasing infant mortality and the baby-boomer population.
As a result, there is an increased need to recruit nurses and Indian nurses top the list, in terms of quality. They are like good-will ambassadors for their country, he points out.
In fact, Dr McKenney's respect for Indian nurses has even taken him to Dubai, where he now has an office to recruit experienced Indian nurses from there as well!
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