I thank The Times for addressing the nursing shortage in the business section ("U.S. Hospitals Are Stepping Up Use of Foreign Nurses," June 19). However, as a native-born RN, I was bewildered and angered to hear that hospital administrators are "rolling out the red carpet" to foreign graduate nurses. To entice nurses from developing countries that are already medically underserved is unethical. It is also a very shortsighted "solution" to an impending crisis.
Domestic nursing schools are closing their doors for lack of applicants. Nurses, hospital administrators and state and federal governments must work together to find solutions to the nursing shortage. We must correct the poor image of nursing in order to attract competent and motivated people to the profession. The increasing complexity of medical technology requires well-educated and experienced nurses to ensure safe, high-quality patient care. Salaries must be increased to compensate nurses working long hours in a high-risk environment where we are exposed to life-threatening illnesses. The low-interest student loans that were cut by the Reagan Administration must be reinstated for nursing students to help alleviate the high cost of education until licensure. This is a national problem and demands national solutions.
Everybody needs nurses. The shortage of practicing nurses will continue until nursing is no longer perceived as "women's work" and salaries reflect the educational requirements, responsibilities, long hours and working conditions faced by hospital nurses. Quick fixes are not a cure. We do not ask for a "red carpet," only fair compensation for the services we provide.
ERIN QUINN, RN