A Unique Perspective: International Nurses in the United States

With the United States facing a shortage of nurses, many healthcare organizations are looking abroad to meet demand. Those nurses, while highly qualified to care for their patients, also offer a unique perspective on healthcare in America. We spoke to several international nurses from Vibra Hospital of Fargo about their experiences.

Why did you decide to become a nurse?

Wangari (Kenya): It is something I wanted to do since I graduated from high school.

Abu (Nigeria): As a child, I always liked nurses, and later learned that it is a profession that helps humanity.

Anne (United Kingdom & Nigeria): I have a passion to provide evidence-based nursing care to patients.

Mary (Nigeria): My passion is to care for the sick.

Patience (Nigeria): Because of my passion to care for people.

Ruth (Kenya): I love to take care of people who are not able to care for themselves.

What made you want to come to the United States to work as a nurse?

Ruth: I wanted a change, having worked in different capacities as an RN. I wanted to experience what being an RN in the US is like.

Wangari: To advance my career and hopefully use the experience and knowledge gained to help my home country, Kenya.

Abu: The United States offered broad opportunities for development professionally through education and best practices.

Anne: I needed to experience nursing in a different setting and grow rapidly in my career.

Mary: I decided to come to the USA to gain more experience in nursing and to put in my best in applying evidence-based practice in caring for the sick.

What are some of the differences between being a nurse in the US and where you worked previously?

Mary: The computer charting, digital vital signs and feeding pumps, infusion pumps, PEG tubes…I’m used to manual and paper charting. Also, the use of narcotics. Where I’m coming from, they are basically for surgery or terminal ailments, like cancer. In America, it is used constantly, even for minor pain.

Patience: In Nigeria, we use paper charting and it is computer charting in the US. Most of the equipment here we didn’t have, such as a tube feeding pump. Frequent use of narcotics is common here.

Anne: In Nigeria, most of the procedures are carried out manually, such as giving feed through a PEG tube and not using the syringe pump.

Ruth: Learning the different cultural practices.

Wangari: There are quite a number! Insurance covers relatively more in Kenya. Management of pain is different. There is less and more restricted use of narcotics in Kenya. The technology in the US is more advanced. More machines that make work easier. I appreciate that here in Vibra, we have an education department that helps keep us abreast with knowledge changes in healthcare and makes room for consultation when the need arises.

Abu: Here in the US, you have all you need to function optimally and according to standard procedures. In my previous country, so many things necessary may not be readily available and can sometimes be frustrating. Also here in the US, there is advanced technology that simplifies and makes your work easier, such as the Hoyer Lift.

What was your experience like coming to Vibra?

Patience: It has been nice. I learn new things and met new friends.

Mary: It has been pleasant and goal-oriented.

Ruth: Every day I’m learning something new. Friendly and supportive staff.