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Survey: International Nurses on the Front Lines of COVID-19 Care

Nearly 90% of international nurses providing care in the United States have treated COVID-19 patients, while 17% have themselves contracted the coronavirus, according to a new survey.

Conducted by O’Grady Peyton, the International Staffing division of AMN Healthcare (NYSE:AMN), the 2021 Survey of International Nurses tracks the roles and experiences of international nurses working in the United States at a time when the nation is facing a profound health crisis.

According to the survey, 86% of international nurses have treated COVID-19 patients. The majority (56%) have treated multiple COVID-19 patients (21 or more). International nurses also are more likely than other nurses to work in high-demand, high-stress areas of hospitals, the survey suggests. Nineteen percent of international nurses work in Intensive Care Units (ICUs) compared to 15% of all nurses, 8% work in Emergency Departments compared to 5% of all nurses, and 11% work in psychiatric units compared to 4% of all nurses.

“At a time of prevailing nurse shortages, international nurses are providing a vital supplement to the workforce, filling some of the most demanding and critical patient care roles during the pandemic,” said Sinead Carbery, President of the AMN Healthcare International Staffing division O’Grady Peyton. “Many hospitals would be on the brink of collapse without them.”

Countries of Origin and Levels of Training

It is estimated that approximately 8% of all nurses providing care in the United States are internationally trained, a number equating to about 300,000 nurses. According to the survey, the majority (77%) are from one of three countries: the Philippines, Jamaica, and India, while 10% are from Africa.

While 56% of all nurses hold a Bachelor of Nursing (BSN) degree or higher, the number is considerably greater for international nurses. According to the survey, 90% of international nurses hold a BSN or higher, while 12% hold a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN), and 1% a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP).

“International nurses are both highly trained and typically have multiple years of experience before arriving in the U.S.,” Carbery said. “They are not simply filling open positions – they are contributing to the high quality of care U.S. patients receive.”

Widespread Acceptance – And Burnout

International nurses are widely accepted by patients, fellow nurses and physicians, the survey indicates. Eighty-six percent said they are accepted by patients, 87% said they are accepted by their nurse colleagues, and 85% said they are accepted by physicians. The majority (56%) said they are paid equitably compared to U.S. nurses, while 80% said their hours are equitable.

Like all nurses, international nurses are subject to high levels of burnout, according to the survey. Eighty-one percent indicated they sometimes, often or always experience feelings of burnout. A significant minority (36%) said they have “often” or “many times” experienced discrimination based on their country of origin or ethnicity. Nevertheless, 79% said they are somewhat to very satisfied with their jobs. Eighty-one percent said they would choose to work in the United States again if they had their careers to do over, while only 5% would not (the remaining 14% were neutral).

The survey was emailed to 1,385 international nurses working in the United States and is based on 593 responses (43% response rate). The survey has a margin of error of +/- 4% and a 95% confidence level. A copy of the full survey report can be accessed at

About O’Grady Peyton

O’ Grady Peyton International is the international staffing division of AMN Healthcare. It has over 40 years of experience placing international nurses into hospitals, medical groups and other healthcare facilities across the United States. For additional information visit

About AMN Healthcare

AMN Healthcare (NYSE: AMN) is the leader and innovator in total talent solutions for healthcare organizations across the nation. The Company provides access to the most comprehensive network of quality healthcare professionals through its innovative recruitment strategies and breadth of career opportunities. With insights and expertise, AMN Healthcare helps providers optimize their workforce to successfully reduce complexity, increase efficiency and improve patient outcomes. AMN total talent solutions include managed services programs, clinical and interim healthcare leaders, temporary staffing, executive search solutions, vendor management systems, recruitment process outsourcing, predictive modeling, language interpretation services, revenue cycle solutions, credentialing and other services. Clients include acute-care hospitals, community health centers and clinics, physician practice groups, retail and urgent care centers, home health facilities, schools and many other healthcare settings. AMN Healthcare is committed to fostering and maintaining a diverse team that reflects the communities we serve. Our commitment to the inclusion of many different backgrounds, experiences and perspectives enables our innovation and leadership in the healthcare services industry. For more information about AMN Healthcare, visit


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