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October 8, 2001

Conference tackles workforce shortage

Lailee Mendelson is communications corrdinator for the Office of International Affairs


Nurses form the backbone of health care systems in most countries of the world, yet there is a widespread and increasing shortage of them. The Lillian Carter Center for International Nursing will sponsor a conference Oct. 15–19 that will bring together nursing leaders from more than 50 countries to address this workforce shortage and explore ethical ways to solve it.

“There is a global crisis in nursing,” said Marla Salmon, dean of the Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing. “The United States is not alone in its serious workforce challenges. In fact, we are increasingly part of the problem for developing countries.”

Salmon is referring to the practice of affluent nations who recruit nurses from less developed ones. Lured by higher wages and better working conditions, more nurses are emigrating to countries like the U.S. and Canada. An example of the downside of globalization, it is a trend that has had a disproportionate adverse impact on developing nations.

“For example,” explained Anne Bavier, assistant dean at the nursing school, “the United Kingdom is short of nurses, so it goes to its favorite source, which might be Canada, and recruits them. That leaves Canada short, so Canada goes to Uganda and recruits their nurses. So what happens to Uganda? They are left without a principal provider of health care for their people.

“Nobody has gained in this scenario,” Bavier continued. “We haven’t increased the number of nurses; we’ve just shifted them around. And we may be jeopardizing health care worldwide because the front-line person delivering health care—especially in developing nations—is most often a nurse.”

Speakers at the conference will address this sort of head-hunting and the ethics of recruitment, as well as other issues aimed at strengthening nurses worldwide.

The formal dedication of the Lillian Carter Center for International Nursing also will take place during the conference. Speakers at the Oct. 18 ceremony, to be held at the Carter Center, will include President Jimmy Carter and Archbishop Desmond Tutu, who will be presented with a humanitarian award.

Salmon, who once served as government chief nursing officer (CNO) for the United States, is optimistic about the prospects for international nursing partnerships.

“As former CNO for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services,” she said, “I can attest to the importance of working across governments—collaborating and learning from one another.”


Faculty trip to Germany set for May ’02
The Halle Institute will sponsor its third faculty study trip to Germany in May 2002. The 17-day itinerary introduces participants to an array of intellectual, political and business leaders.

The trip represents a vote of confidence in faculty’s intellectual integrity and commitment to life-long learning. Part of Emory’s internationalization, the trip asks faculty who have limited knowledge of a particular country to grow personally from a rich international experience and to bring reflections of this experience back to their work at the University. The trip builds interdisciplinary ties across all of Emory’s schools and exposes faculty to peers and colleagues overseas.

Participants should not be specialists on Germany. Other requirements include: participation in orientation sessions involving readings; completion of a demanding itinerary in Germany; and presentation and formal assessment of the trip upon return. Interested faculty should contact their deans for information on how to apply.


Back to Emory Report October 8, 2001