Boston startup hopes to remedy the nursing shortage with international students
While hospitals struggle with nursing shortages, a Massachusetts startup is preparing to train hundreds of foreign-born students to fill those roles.
Driving the news: Boston-based InSpring plans to admit its first cohort of 20-30 international students with bachelor's degrees in the U.S. and other countries this winter, co-founder and CEO Chris Hoehn-Saric tells Axios.
- The group will enter an accelerated bachelor of nursing program at the MGH Institute of Health Professions, Mass General Brigham's graduate school.
Why it matters: The nationwide nursing shortage has hit Massachusetts hard. Nurse vacancy rates in the state's hospitals doubled from 6.4% in 2019 to 13.5% in 2022, according to the Health Policy Commission report published in March.
- Industry leaders believe a national shortage will persist for years.
Threat level: Without enough staff, patients are receiving delayed care. Mental health patients, for example, have been waiting longer for hospital beds.
- Others have had to wait more than a month to be transferred to skilled nursing facilities, per the report.
What they're saying: "We simply don't have the volume or diversity of a domestic labor force to solve for the demands that are happening over the next generation," Hoehn-Saric tells Axios.
- "What we know now is that international students not only can do the work and want to do the work, they're historically underutilized."
Zoom in: Employers tend to overlook international job seekers because they're unfamiliar with the immigration process, says Hoehn-Saric, who previously worked for the international student recruiter Shorelight.
- International student visas allow them to legally work for one to three years after graduation, depending on their specialty, but they typically need to be sponsored by an employer afterward.
- If they don't find work and don't get sponsored in time, they have to return to their home country, making it harder to return for a job in the U.S.
The big picture: Massachusetts is one of several states where business leaders and advocates have urged the state to harness international talent to solve worker shortages.
- Other companies have popped up in the U.S. to help place foreign-born workers in health care facilities, but InSpring is one of the few to help train prospective workers through university partnerships, Hoehn-Saric says.
How it works: InSpring will help place recruits in American nursing jobs and oversee their immigration paperwork. The startup also connects the cohort to lenders specializing in international students.
- Once a recruit is hired full-time, InSpring charges their employer a one-time fee, separate from the nurse's salary.
What's next: The inaugural cohort will aim to take the nursing licensing exam in early 2025, though they can work as a nursing assistant or in other roles before securing their license, Hoehn-Saric says.
More Boston stories
No stories could be found
Get a free daily digest of the most important news in your backyard with Axios Boston.