International Nurses Celebrate First Year at UM Medical Center
During National Nurses Week, May 6-12, the University of Maryland Medical Center will be honoring a diverse workforce, including more than 70 nurses from around the world. As part of the medical center's International Nurses Recruitment Program, these nurses moved here from many different countries, including the Philippines, Kenya, Nigeria, Zimbabwe, South Africa, China and India.
The idea for the International Nurses Program grew out of the nurse shortage in the United States. This successful program is just one part of the medical center's initiatives to recruit and retain nurses. These nurses aren't just fitting in; they're thriving. One nurse was named Nurse of the Year in Shock Trauma.
"Our first nurses from overseas came on board in the spring of 2002," says Regina Twigg, R.N., professional development coordinator for the University of Maryland Medical Center. "These nurses say they are pleased with their jobs here at the medical center and many are now encouraging their friends to apply. They fit in well, and we've heard many positive comments from the hospital staff who enjoy working with them."
The international nurses agree. "The other hospital employees have been very welcoming. We have a good mix of people on my floor," says Marie Kristine Cabunoc, R.N., a nurse who came to the medical center last April from the Philippines.
Participants in the International Nurses Recruitment Program go through a rigorous application process and must pass several stringent exams. This testing and the INS processing take about 18 months to complete.
When the nurses arrive, they go through an extensive, three-week orientation program. They must adjust not only to a new work environment, but also to life in a new country. The program helps the recruits find housing and set up bank accounts. And the new nurses have another great resource: the other international nurses.
"The nurses who have been here a while really reach out to the new people," says Carrie Yi, program manager for international recruitment. "They've formed a very supportive community. They will show the new nurses how get around, where to go shopping, where to go to church or how to register their children for school."
The orientation also includes additional training, including some work at the University of Maryland School of Nursing. The nurses get extensive hands-on experience before they see patients. "Our technology is different and often more advanced than what some of these nurses have used," explains Twigg. "We want to be sure these nurses are comfortable with our systems and equipment."
The nurses also go through an extensive placement process. The program coordinators work to match nurses with units that best fit their knowledge and interests. The nurses spend time on these units before they begin working. The matching process helps improve job satisfaction.
The International Nurses Recruitment program is going so well that it's expanding. The program is now recruiting medical technologists, another position in short supply of applicants here in the United States. So far, eight international medical technologists are working in the medical center.
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