I have never heard so many "nos" as I did today. For the first time in these four years I felt that I have been the biggest fool on Earth. I am a foreign nurse form Panama trying to get a job in the United States. Many people say, "There are plenty of jobs for nurses in the United States", "Bilingual? They'll eat you up! That's a plus!". However, there is something that people do not say about the reality of employment for foreign nurses in this country. If a foreign nurse is not proficient in English, a citizen or a green card holder, and does not have a sponsor, the likelihood that she gets a job in the country is one in a trillion.
In every employment opportunity that I have applied the requirements state "excellent speaking and writing skills" How can one know if her English skills are good enough for a job? The Commission on Graduates of Foreign Nursing Schools (CGFNS) states in the VisaScreen Visa Credentials Assessment Application Handbook that "You must take a series of English proficiency tests approved for your profession" (if your instruction was given in English, you do not have to present these exams). The exams that determine one's English proficiency are the TOEFL iBT (internet based test) and the IELTS (International English Language Testing System) Also, this handbook provides a chart with the TOEFL iBT required scores for Registered Nurses which are 83 as total and 26 in the speaking section (VisaScreen Application Handbook 3). Thus, if one want to get a job as a bilingual nurse, you must speak English very well.
In addition to the language nightmare, the fact that you are an alien with a Bachelor in Nursing Sciences does not guarantee that you will get your dream job. In order to apply for a job in the United States, one must be a citizen, a permanent resident, or have a "work visa" or H1-B. Without them, it is legally impossible to be considered as a candidate for a position where you might fit well.
Although the word "H1-B Visa" might seem the light at the end of the tunnel, it is not so easy to get it. The nurse needs a sponsor or employer willing to go through all the immigration process with her. Unfortunately, many companies are no longer offering sponsorship opportunities for foreign trained nurses and the ones who do it, are very selective with the person that they are hiring. Moreover, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services or USCIS has a "limited number of H1-B visas" that can be given per year.
The question remains, why no one ever say these three aspects to a foreign trained nurse? Why working in the United States is the best kept secret in nursing overseas? Maybe the reason behind this secret is that not many nurses have gotten to this point where every door seems to be closed. The information about this topic is very limited, immigration laws change constantly and are not fair with those who can contribute positively to the country. In addition, people are not familiarized with the right procedures required in this long process. I feel that my dream is fading away and it deeply hurts me. I can do nothing about it, but tell everyone that the reality is not what people are saying here or in your country. It is not easy to find a nursing job in the United States.
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