Hunting Season for Healthcare Workers

Chelsea Rice, for HealthLeaders Media , August 19, 2013

Economists point to untapped international resources for physicians, many who currently live in the United States, but cannot practice because of the highly regulated system. Advocates argue that the federal government should make greater efforts to recognize the high-quality international training, and make it easier for foreign doctors, whose training is just as good as in the United States, to establish their practices here.

"It is doubtful that the U.S. can respond to the massive shortages without the participation of international medical graduates. But we're basically ignoring them in this discussion and I don't know why that is," Nyapati Raghu Rao, the Indian-born chairman of psychiatry at Nassau University Medical Center and a past chairman of the American Medical Association's international medical graduates governing council told The New York Times.

Another source of talent, barely tapped
Closer to home, APRNs, physician assistants, and other mid-level providers can enable hospitals to meet growing patient demand, but only in states where the law allows them to practice the full extent of their knowledge, training, and licensure.

In California last week a bill to expand the scope and practice of nurse practitioners in the state reached the state assembly and passed. Senate Bill 491 will allow nurse practitioners to practice independently of physicians in hospitals, clinics and skilled-nursing facilities. Unfortunately, the bill was a watered down version of its original form.

The California Medical Association exerted its influence and succeeded in weakening the bill, which originally called for nurse practitioners to operate independently after 6,240 hours of physician supervision. Next stop: the Senate Appropriations Committee.

Chelsea Rice is an associate editor for HealthLeaders Media.

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