MCALLEN, Texas – Currently, there is a lot of red tape that makes it difficult for Rio Grande Valley hospitals to hire nurses that received their nursing credentials in Mexico.

And the problem is compounded if the nurses are not fluent in English. 

Julian Alvarez, the commissioner for labor with the Texas Workforce Commission, is trying to address that. During the recent two-day 6th Annual Apprenticeship Texas Conference, held at the McAllen Convention Center, Alvarez met with Dr. Annabelle Palomo, CEO of RGV College, and representatives of DHR Health, Valley Baptist, and UT-Rio Grande Valley. 

“We were just meeting with RGV College college right now, Dr. Palomo, who has a grade school. And one of the challenges that a lot of healthcare professionals have here is they have the credentialing in Mexico,” Alvarez said, in a video interview with the Rio Grande Guardian International News Service.

“When they (the healthcare professional) come over here as an RN, or BSN, they come in here, only being able to get a job as a phlebotomist or a medical assistant. Nothing wrong with that, but that’s not what they trained for in Mexico.” 

In his interview with the Guardian, Alvarez pointed out that between now and 2032, Texas is going to be short 57,000 registered nurses.

Of his meeting with hospital leaders, Alvarez said: “There was an interest in these nurses that are coming in from Mexico. They have some deficiencies in English, reading and writing. And so through our adult education literacy program, we actually provide services where we partner up with the local college or university and provide the nurses with the skills needed so that they can take the tests, so that they can pass that exam, so that they will be able to be licensed in the state of Texas, in the field that they were studying in Mexico.”

Alvarez said that through TWC, “we’re going to be able to partner up with some of these nurses, and hopefully be able to transition what they’ve experienced in Mexico and get them the credential needed here. That means us getting their transcripts from Mexico, which could be a task in itself. So we’re actually going to be bringing in those transcripts, verifying their credentials. And so this is a win-win for all of us.”

Alvarez said that in his meeting with executives from DHR he learned that the process for getting a Mexican trained nurse credentialed to work at the hospital can take up to 11 months. 

“We’re looking at maybe weeks that we will be able to actually expedite this whole process,” Alvarez said. The way to expedite the process would be through TWC’s adult education literacy program, he explained. 

“So when they left our meeting here at the convention in a private room that we had, they were amazed that there was this actual service available to them,” Alvarez said of the meeting with DHR officials.

“The Texas Workforce Commission is actually going to be meeting with them regularly. You saw me earlier talking to Sonia Valdez who does an amazing job for us helping write grants.”

Alvarez said Valdez, a skills development coordinator with TWC, has helped, through the agency, secure grants for SpaceX, Tesla, and Steelcoast.

“She’s done amazing work and she’s gonna sit there, work with them (the nurses credentialed in Mexico), making sure that when they fill out the application and that any information that’s needed from Mexico actually gets sent over back here and that that we can look at the transcripts.”

Alvarez said the Texas Higher Education Agency is going to need to approve the streamlined process. 

“We want to make sure that they (the nurses credentialed in Mexico) are lined up with the credentials that the hospital is looking for. It takes time but I can tell you that we’re certainly going to expedite that whole process.”


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