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Am J Public Health. 2007 May;97(5):895-9. Epub 2007 Mar 29.

Trends in characteristics and country of origin among foreign-trained nurses in the United States, 1990 and 2000.

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  • 1School of Medicine and the Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia 19104, USA.



We describe long-term trends in the characteristics of foreign-trained new entrants to the registered nurse (RN) workforce in the United States.


Using the 1990 and 2000 US Census 5% Public Use Microdata Sample files, we compared trends in characteristics of US- and foreign-trained new entrants to the RN labor force (n=40827) and identified trends in the country of origin of the foreign-trained new entrants.


Foreign-trained RNs grew as a percentage of new entrants to the RN workforce, from 8.8% in 1990 to 15.2% in 2000. Compared with US-trained RNs, foreign-trained RNs were 3 times as likely to work in nursing homes and were more likely to have earned a bachelor's degree. In 2000, 21% of foreign-trained RNs originated from low-income countries, a doubling of the rate since 1990.


Foreign-trained RNs now account for a substantial and growing proportion of the US RN workforce. Our findings suggest foreign-trained RNs entering the United States are not of lower quality than US-trained RNs. However, growth in the proportion of RNs from low-income countries may have negative consequences in those countries.

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