This article originally appeared in the Nashville Business Journal by Joel Stinnett. Below is an abbreviated summary. 

Personal protective equipment isn’t the only thing that’s been in short supply this year, so have nurses — but one Middle Tennessee company may have a plan to solve that.

Nashville-based Shearwater Health CEO Tom Kendrot said the nurse staffing firm expects to hire 1,000 nurses per year in the Philippines for at least the next two years to deal with the current nursing shortage — and that number could increase.

Shearwater provides nurses and clinicians performing administrative duties remotely from the Philippines, allowing nurses in the U.S. to spend more time caring for patients. The company also provides bedside nurses inside U.S. hospitals, who are recruited from around the world, including Jamaica, Kenya, Nigeria and India.

The U.S. nursing shortage is not a new problem but Kendrot said it was getting worse, even before the Covid-19 pandemic. That’s partly driven by 50% of current nurses reaching retirement age in the next 10 years, he said, but is being exasperated by the fact that 70,000 qualified clinical student applicants are turned down each year by U.S. universities. In total, Kendrot said there is an expected shortfall of 225,000 clinicians in the U.S. over the next three years — but that is a pre-pandemic estimate.

Shearwater currently employees a little more than 3,000 nurses in the Philippines, the large majority of whom are still working from home, but has the facilities to employ as many as 6,500, Kendrot said. Meaning if the demand for clinicians continues to increase post-pandemic, the 1,000 new hires per year estimate could be much higher in reality.

“I believe in the next six to 12 months, organizations will continue to asses their long-term clinical strategy and that number could increase,” Kendrot said. “We’re built for the growth we expect to have over the next couple of years.”

Read the full article here.