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Every month, three to five nurses from around the world pack their bags and set sail for a new adventure at Indiana University Health.
But these skilled healthcare workers are not your average “travel nurses”—they are caregivers in IU Health’s International Nursing Program (INP)—a workforce development program that recruits nurses from other countries to work at IU Health Methodist and University hospitals for a minimum of three years.
The program, which launched in 2019, was designed to help fill staffing gaps created by Indiana’s statewide nursing shortage, as well as increase diversity among caregivers at the downtown Indianapolis hospitals.
And in just four years, that global talent pipeline has helped IU Health recruit 59 nurses from countries including the Philippines and Kenya.
The result? A team of healthcare professionals who more closely mirror IU Health’s diverse patient population, as nearly 50% of Marion County residents are minorities.
“Research shows that patients of diverse backgrounds have better outcomes with registered nurses of their own race or ethnicity,” said Amanda Noth-Matchett, IU Health associate chief nursing officer. “This means the more varied our nurse population at IU Health, the better care we can provide our patients overall.”
To ease their transition from home to Indiana, INP relies on support from Shearwater Health, a clinical solutions organization that helps the nurses find housing and transportation in Indianapolis. Shearwater also helps the nurses finalize their immigration documents and equips them with tools they need to excel in an American work environment, including English language training.
Because Shearwater handles the logistics of INP, Noth-Matchett and her team can focus their efforts on creating a welcoming onboarding experience. Much of that includes a specialized orientation, assigning each cohort a nurse mentor on the unit, an overview of IU Health processes and equipment, and lessons about the patient population.
“We want them to feel like they are immediately part of our community,” Noth-Matchett said.
To expand this initiative, funds from IU Health Foundation helped onboard a “cultural concierge” who will support INP nurses in their new roles and be their main contact for community resources. This person will also coordinate events and team outings to help socialize and familiarize them with the Hoosier state—and ensure they have a meaningful experience.
Noth-Matchett hopes such experiences inspire the nurses to stay in Indiana after their contracts are up.
“That is the ultimate goal of this program,” she said.” We hope to retain these nurses as permanent team members.”
Securing INP caregivers as full-time IU Health nurses will help IU Health advance its goal of creating a more diversified workforce and continue to be a place where many voices and perspectives come together to improve the health of Indiana communities.
“Every time we increase the diversity at our hospitals, we become a stronger care team,” said Noth-Matchett. “The more nurses we onboard who have different experiences, exposures and resources to tap in to, it benefits us all and most importantly, helps provide more holistic care to our patients.”
If you’d like to support professional development and education advancement programs in your community, contact IU Health Foundation Vice President, Campaigns and Philanthropy, Heather Perdue at 317.962.2207.