by Chris Musillo

During most of the 2000s, internationally trained nurses made up about 10-15% of all new RNs that came on-line in the US. These numbers disappeared with the onset of retrogression in January 2008. In spite of the retrogression, internationally-trained and educated nurses remained faithful to the US, as evidenced by the fact that internationally-trained RNs continued to take the NCLEX in great numbers.

In 2006, about 20,907 internationally educated RNs passed the NCLEX exam. In 2007, the volume jumped; 22,827 internationally educated nurses passed the NCLEX exam. With the onset of retrogression, 2008 saw a slight decline; 18,905 internationally educated RNs passed the exam.

But the latest numbers point to a massive drop in the numbers of internationally educated nurses passing NCLEX. Through June 30, 2009, only 7,236 have passed the exam, which annualizes to 14,472.

While the US nursing shortage certainly has eased in recent months, economists and government officials all agree that this is a temporary condition. By the end of the next decade the US could be short 250,000 to
1 million nurses, depending on whose estimates you read.

It is obvious that reasonable visa opportunities for international nurses must happen or else the US is going to find that it has a massive nursing shortage and international nurses are no longer there to fill the gap.

All statistics in this posting are from the NLCEX Fact Sheets, which are published on NCSBN's webpage.