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US Hospitals Are Recruiting Large Numbers of Nurses from Puerto Rico

US Hospitals Are Recruiting Large Numbers of Nurses from Puerto Rico

Due to a national shortage in the number of nurses in hospitals and other healthcare settings it has been necessary to recruit personnel from all around the world. Although this has happened in many parts of the U.S before, especially in Florida, there has been an increase in the number of Puerto Rican nurses recruited from the island to help take care of patients in Florida.

These are 4 things that need to be known about hospitals' recruitment efforts in Puerto Rico:

1. The international recruitment program started in the Orlando-based Florida Hospital began about 10 years ago, hiring nurses from a wide range of countries. The list included India, Canada, Philippines and the U.K. so far. But since Hurricane Maria, the hospital has recruited more than 45 healthcare professionals from Puerto Rico, according to official reports.

2. According to the senior director in talent acquisition of Florida Hospital, Karla Muniz, one of the most important reasons why Puerto Rican healthcare professionals can be so helpful in Florida is that they can provide assistance in a more efficient way to the large Spanish-speaking population located in places like Orlando and central Florida.

Karla Muniz told CNN that most Puerto Rican candidates for the international recruitment program had a good handle of the Spanish language since most of them are bilingual, born and raised in Spanish-speaking families.

3. This program has been very successful and a solution to both sides of the problem, for both Puerto Rican healthcare professionals looking for jobs and hospitals located in Florida. The U.S government has made the hiring process faster, making it way easier to apply for a good job in their area. It is worth mentioning that Puerto Rico also represents an advantage, since none of the recruited professionals have to deal with work visa issues or anything.

The transition of new personnel from the island to the mainland have simplified a lot making it an efficient process that can be completed in just a few days.

4. According to the person in charge of the recruitment program, they seek to hire at least 30 more nurses from the island in the near future to work at the Florida Hospital.

Natural disasters have proved to be a solid cause of an increase in the number of healthcare professionals needed to take care of patients and help them through their recovery process. But that raises the question of what should healthcare professionals do in this case?

What should healthcare personnel do in case of disasters

Obtaining the best possible level of care for people in a community affected by a disaster requires various nursing actions:

  • Identification of victims and patients, and transfer of these
  • Direct attention
  • Assessment and evaluation
  • Problem solving
  • Organization and coordination
  • Teaching and consulting

Nurses sometimes work alone within the community and therefore, may not have another person to help manage care during a crisis. In this way, they can independently initiate and carry out assistance actions; however, these must be part of a "group approach."

Nurses must collaborate with each other and form a network of mutual support, with those that have the necessary specialties and knowledge. Those who volunteer their services must be integrated into organizations where they are assigned responsibilities. 

The plans and interventions should be consistent with the global disaster program and the activities of other members of health and medical groups. Nurses sometimes need to actively seek the experience and participation of others to promote a multidisciplinary team approach.

Nursing activities in the community should reflect the changing needs in the event of a calamity and have primary, secondary or tertiary prevention goals. Primary prevention is the reduction of the probability of illness, death and disability as a result of a disaster. Secondary prevention is the rapid identification of problems specific to the disaster and the implementation of measures to treat and prevent its recurrence or complications. Tertiary prevention includes rehabilitation to restore the community and its population to the state they were in before the disaster and mitigate long-term disabilities.

Natural disasters generate a predictable series of problems through their various stages, although these problems are modified by the type and severity of the calamity. Each aspect of the problems should be approached through specific activities and prevention measures as a team. For example, the care of the injured is an immediate need during the first 2 or 3 days after an earthquake. Unlike this, in a flood the evacuation of the population and its relocation to temporary shelters assumes the highest priority.

What to do once the crisis has been stopped?

Programs that were temporarily reduced during the crisis period must be renewed and restructured in the recovery phase. Some services are very useful to help communities and people during the restoration process:

  • Nutritional guidance
  • Adequate child healthcare
  • Prenatal and postnatal medical care
  • Chronic disease care
  • Prevention of contagious diseases
  • Routine examination of the health of the sick
  • Advice on mental health

Nurses can detect signs that rehabilitation is not occurring. This type of case detection is important and an epidemiological study may be needed to identify the uninterrupted needs of community members. The long-term effects of a disaster on health vary according to each situation. However, nurses will undoubtedly have to face the consequences of a calamity and will need to avoid the consequences after it.

The nurses who remain in the community after a calamity have the satisfaction of having led the population to normalcy. Schools, industries and clinics will start to work again. They must intervene in tertiary prevention activities and re-establish their tasks in an environment that is normalized little by little. Primary prevention activities must assume new importance as nurses collaborate in the revision of plans against a possible future disaster and implement teaching programs.