14:05 PM

Intermountain Health taps into international nursing workforce

Grace Poteet, nursing director of the medical-surgical service line at St. Mary’s Medical Center and Eva Mango, St. Mary's CVICU nurse from the Philippines (2)

Innovation is key to the solution in the ever-challenging landscape of healthcare recruitment. Intermountain Health is working with WorldWide HealthStaff Solutions to address the pressing need for nurses in a distinctive way, a journey that began in 2021 and continues to revolutionize our nursing workforce. 

Intermountain Health's international nursing program weaves together threads from around the world to create a vibrant and diverse tapestry of healthcare expertise. Dedicated to nurturing quality care while breaking geographical boundaries, this program represents one creative way to address staffing challenges.

Nurses recruited for the program must have a commendable track record, bringing forth solid healthcare experience and knowledge. Their journey to the United States is often inspired by a desire to resettle from their home countries, such as India, Nepal, South Africa, and the Philippines.

WorldWide HealthStaff Solutions, a seasoned player in international recruitment with 33 years of experience, conducts the screening and secures all the necessary regulatory approvals for each candidate we consider. They ensure that the nurses they send to Intermountain Health for consideration possess at least two years of experience akin to those in the United States, and on average, they have nine years of experience. Beyond recruitment, the agency provides support in various ways — from securing citizenship status to arranging housing and aiding in integrating international nurses into their new American homes.

Grace Poteet, nursing director of the medical-surgical service line at St. Mary’s Medical Center and Eva Mango, St. Mary's CVICU nurse from the Philippines (3)

The nurses can select from various care sites throughout Intermountain. Upon selection, they’re directly hired by Intermountain Health and begin working at the selected care site, further solidifying their bond with the organization.

Kate Christmas, RN, talent sourcing specialist has aided in this effort due to her decades of experience recruiting international talent. “When we welcome these RNs, it is a win-win for the RN and for the organization,” she said. “Their dedication and loyalty enhance our experience level, and their desire to work in the United States meets a life-long goal for many of them. The welcome they receive from coworkers and the community has a tremendous impact on retention.”

The transformative impact of international nursing came to life in the Peaks Region when Saint Joseph Hospital hired its inaugural international nurse in 2021 and she began work in March 2023. Assigned to the Operating Room (OR), her arrival was particularly timely, helping alleviate some of the demands following the pandemic. A Cardiovascular Intensive Care Unit (CVICU) nurse from the Philippines joined St. Mary’s Medical Center in March 2023, and two ICU RNs joined Good Samaritan and Saint Joseph in March and April. In September, an OR nurse will join Saint Joseph and the Peaks Region is continuing to interview and make offers to nurses for the ICU, Med Surg, and the OR across the region.

Grace Poteet, nursing director of the medical-surgical service line at St. Mary’s, explained the benefit to her care site: “Bringing in international candidates and assisting them to both successfully orient to the work setting and acclimate to the community is a winning strategy for an outstanding workforce with retention built in from the start.”

Dina Bush, Peaks Region chief nursing officer, described the significance of international nurse recruitment: "It goes far beyond just meeting staffing needs. It brings invaluable cultural perspectives for providing quality care that meets our current and future needs."

Grace Poteet, nursing director of the medical-surgical service line at St. Mary’s Medical Center and Eva Mango, St. Mary's CVICU nurse from the Philippines (1)

Nursing leaders across our three regions are now collaborating with WorldWide HealthStaff Solutions to invite international nurses into their fold. The Desert and Canyons regions are taking the learnings from Peaks and have submitted a request to recruit 100 international nurses. The strategic recruitment drive seeks to address high-need areas in six key locations like McKay-Dee Hospital, Intermountain Medical Center, LDS Hospital, Home Care Salt Lake, St. George Regional Hospital, and Primary Children's Hospital.

“I am so thrilled that we have the opportunity to welcome nurse caregivers from around the world,” said Mandy Richards, chief nursing executive. “As a native of Australia, I’ve had the privilege of working with talented nurses both in and outside of the U.S., and I’m looking forward to the skills, experience, and diversity an expanding workforce will bring to Intermountain.”

From Korea to Ecuador, China to Jordan, Ghana to Canada, the Desert and Canyons regions have cast their net wide, interviewing nurses from various corners of the globe. However, it's the Philippines that often emerges as a primary source. Jen Chandio, senior advisor and executive project consultant for Canyons Region acute care, explained the rationale: “They have an excess of about 200,000 nurses, and the Philippines teaches American curriculum, so what the nurses there are learning is very similar to what nurses in America are learning. Also, many of them support families at home, leading to the desire to leave the country to work.”

The journey from recruitment initiation to the nurses' arrival on American soil spans two years. Ultimately, the grand vision of the international nurse program is to infuse fresh talent into the organization and enrich the candidate pool's diversity and inclusivity, aligning with Intermountain’s overarching goals.

Our commitment to patient well-being surpasses borders, and the synergy between different nursing backgrounds enriches our ability to provide the highest-quality care.