Ochsner, Mercy help workers boost credentials, find new career opportunities

Ochsner leaders recently announced the health system will move eight Ukrainian nurses and their families nearly 6,000 miles from their home country to work at its facilities. They’re doing so through the “Passport2Liberty” program operated by healthcare credentials evaluation organization CGFNS International.

“We are able to move them here to work at Ochsner, and we will support their families and help them find schools and housing,” said Tracey Schiro, executive vice president, chief human resources officer and chief administrative officer.

Through its latest effort to bring international staff to the health system, Ochsner will provide tools to help the nurses become proficient in English, pass the National Council Licensure Examination, and complete the necessary documentation so they can stay in the U.S.

“Their skill sets transition very well into the U.S., and they’re very hard-working,” said Lee Youngblood, director of system nursing strategy at Ochsner who’s leading the program.

She said the biggest challenge is the language barrier, but the nurses typically pick up adequate English skills within a few months. Since launching the partnership in July, the health system has selected the first family, who recently arrived in New Orleans.

“Just like every other health system across the U.S., we’re all struggling with workforce issues and this program definitely helps fill that gap for us,” Schiro said.

Leaders at both health systems said they hope to see their programs expand over time.

Ochsner has committed itself to diversifying its staff through international recruitment in recent years. It already employs over 200 international nurses from Nigeria, Singapore and other countries.

Mercy leadership said the medic program is a win-win for both sides of the partnership.

“The reservists are bringing their perspective, we’re bringing our perspective, and that always leads to better outcomes,” said Betty Jo Rocchio, Mercy’s senior vice president and chief nursing officer.

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