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Billings Clinic hires internationally to curb nursing shortage

Posted at 5:25 PM, Jan 27, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-27 19:27:23-05

There’s been a nursing shortage for years in the United States, but the pandemic has only made things worse. Billings Clinic has gone to great lengths to alleviate the situation, finding help from all corners of the world.

“We have some units that have up to 40% open positions that need to be filled for nursing,” said Greg Titensor, vice president of operations at Billings Clinic.

Candidates aren't exactly lining up for those positions. That’s why Billings Clinic is thinking not only outside the box but outside the country as well.

“We really wanted to make this program where people are moving to Billings, moving to Billings Clinic, and wanting to stay at Billings Clinic,” Titensor said.

The hospital started researching the idea of hiring international nurses back in 2019. The plan came to fruition last year when the hospital hired its first nurse from the Philippines. They’ve since hired nurses from the United Emirates, Ireland, Kenya, Nigeria, Ghana and Thailand.

“We have 29 that are on contract. We have five that arrived and are working at our facility currently,” Titensor said.

Kyle Durano was that first hire back in September.

“I have been a nurse back in the Philippines for six years. Four years were spent in the ICU and two I spent as a medical floor nurse,” Durano said.

She spent her first couple of months in the country learning about American culture, like how to file taxes and navigate roads in the states.

She made her way to Billings last fall and is currently working as a registered nurse in the ICU. She’s been in Billings for almost five months and is still trying to navigate life in Montana.

“It’s kind of like a two-way street. I get to learn more from Montana and I get to teach them more about my side of the world.”

It’s Durano’s first time out of her home country.

“It’s somewhat of a mix of overwhelming and exciting. But if you’re not doing exciting, then what are you doing with your life anyway.”

When it comes to her job as a nurse, she’s grateful to be in such an advanced hospital compared to what she’s used to in the Philippines.

“They also have great opportunities for the nurses compared to what we have back home,” said Durano.

Every day she spends in Billings makes her want to call this place her new home.

“Prior to coming here, I was just thinking I’m just going to finish my contract and maybe move to another place. But so far, I’m loving Montana,” Durano said.