What to Expect as an International Clinician in the U.S.?

International clinicians care for patients in a different country than their own. Not only are these nurses clinically skilled, but they must also be adaptable. Stepping into a new country and culture is challenging and intimidating. The team at O’Grady Peyton International, specifically the clinician support team, is dedicated to alleviating obstacles and providing around the clock support to international clinicians, both clinical and non-clinical.

We sat down with the team members of clinician support at O’Grady Peyton International to learn what international clinicians can expect in the months leading up to their first day on the job, as well as what to expect their first week on the job.

6-8 Weeks Before the First Day

The relocation team at O’Grady Peyton International doesn’t miss a beat and supports the clinician when they’re ready to be placed on assignment (and after). Sara B., relocation manager, explains, “My team reaches out to the international clinician generally six weeks prior to their start date. We send them a questionnaire to learn about their living and lifestyle preferences. Questions include what they’re looking for in an apartment, what their family situations look like, any kind of special needs that we need to address. We set up a call and clarify the preferences to secure housing that’s closer to their facility or in a good school zone, for example.”

Xavier G., Senior Director of Sales Operations, expanded on the time frame. “[The time needed between coming to the U.S. and the clinician’s start date] depends on their state of placement. Their state of placement dictates when they need to arrive to get their nursing or clinical license issued. For example, if they’re placed in Florida or Louisiana or Alabama, they must be here six weeks prior because they cannot apply for their license until they have their social security number.”

Sara continues to explain the relocation support, “We work with the properties directly to help secure housing and we send them options for car purchases, if needed. We help them book their flights to the U.S. and arrange transportation.”

We have a community liaison team on the ground in the select cities and they meet the clinician near the airport and help them move into their apartment, help them get a U.S. cell phone number, help them set up a U.S. bank account, get any utilities connected, take them shopping at Walmart…”.

The relocation team does deep diving into the clinician’s city to reserve the housing, making sure the location is low crime. Notably, the team highly values feedback and recommendations from other nurses.

2-3 Weeks Before the First Day

Jason R., Senior Manager of Clinician Support, facilitates the clinician support specialist team with non-clinical support. Their team helps with the social and emotional side of the clinician’s two-year assignment and works closely with the relocation team.

Jason gave us a behind the scenes look: “Once the relocation team is complete, the international nurses are waiting for their start date. We work hand in hand with the relocation team and meet to identify the nurses who are going to be starting within the next couple of weeks.

The relocation team has been working with these clinicians and knows what is going on. They know their social situation and more details about the nurse’s circumstances. They pass these insights on to each of the clinician support specialists. We all meet and go line by line to find out if there are any issues. Some may not have an issue at all and they’re good to go. Or, it could be more complex. They could be married and need employment for their spouse, they could have five kids to juggle, or a child facing a medical challenge. This thorough review provides information for us to be proactive and start finding resources for clinicians.

This is also the time my team reaches out to the clinician and sets up an introduction. We connect with the clinician once a week for the first six to eight weeks [of their assignment], then move to biweekly or monthly check-ins, whatever the clinician prefers. We can help with spousal employment, childcare or school enrollment for their children, or helping secure transportation if it hasn’t already been done.”

Jason explained that each clinician has a dedicated team consisting of a support specialist and clinical manager. This structure helps international clinicians through licensing, credentialing, and relocation.

The First Days on the Job

Mark J. is a clinical manager at O’Grady Peyton International. He is one leg of the micro-team tripod that Jason described. Mark explains what international clinicians can expect their first day on the job. “The first day they are at a new hospital that’s probably better equipped than anything they’ve seen in their life, depending on where they’re from.

First, the international nurse receives their first day instructions, some places have a little virtual, but usually it starts with in-person classroom orientation. They’re in there with nurses and non-nurses alike, learning about the hospital, their history, where everything is like parking and clocking in. The CEO or CMO will come and give a speech.

After their first day, it breaks down into more of the groups they’re hired for. It’s just going to be nursing orientation, usually called General Nursing Orientation or GNO.  Their third or fourth day, there is a lot of classroom-learning on computers, working through modules, they typically have electronic medical record training. And then it transitions into getting out on the floor for the first time and doing a shadow shift.

As they’re working through orientation, that’s when the clinical and social support (Jason’s team) collaborate to support the clinician. In their previous country, the nurse was in a setting they knew and was an expert. Here, they feel like a novice nurse learning new and different ways to do things.” Sometimes, the clinicians want the comfort of their old home and homesickness can set in. The clinical manager supports the clinicians to gain their confidence in this new health care system, while social support helps solve problems at home to calm the worries.

About O’Grady Peyton International

O’Grady Peyton International is an expert in licensure and immigration and helps clinicians and their families get through the application process and thrive in the U.S. There are outstanding benefits and abundant opportunities. If you’re interested in joining a community of thousands of clinicians who immigrated to the U.S., complete a quick-start application to connect with a recruiter.