Few places are experiencing the nursing shortage more than rural Alaska.
The state ranks No. 1 on a list of nursing shortages projected by 2030, with a predicted shortage of 22.7%, according to the National Center for Health Workforce Analysis.
Foundation Health Partners is the largest healthcare system in Interior Alaska, serving an area of approximately 250,000 square miles.
“There is a staffing need that comes on the back of that, and that is the elephant that sits on my chest every day,” said Jennifer Hoskins, talent acquisition and development director at Foundation Health Partners.
Local nursing graduates fill only 10 percent of the positions, at best. Then there are the nurses who don’t want to work full-time. The biggest challenge is the remote destination and finding nurses willing to relocate long term.
“What our world typically looks like is a never ending cycle of travelers,” Hoskins said. “So we have this sort of mountain every year of these positions we have to fill.”
Until Hoskins hired Health Carousel’s PassportUSA brand to bring in international nurses.
PassportUSA is the largest network of highly-qualified and credentialed global healthcare professionals available for interview and selection available anywhere. The growing pool of candidates has, on average, eight years of experience and education and training that exceeds common standards or practice in the United States.
“We had heard from some other leaders who had joined our organization that said, ‘We can't believe you guys are not doing this,’” Hoskins said.
The PassportUSA team quickly helped the system identify 25 nurses who would be a good fit — more nurses than the local school graduates in an entire year.
“I was just relieved because nursing leaders, I think, could be a tough group to satisfy just because they're by nature skeptical, which I love,” Hoskins said.
In a recent interview, Hoskins spoke more about the surprises of hiring international nurses, as well as a behind-the-scenes look at how COVID-19 impacted Alaska differently than most states.