The Face of Cassia

Rose, an international nurse at Moose Lake Village, poses for a picture with her family

Heart and Innovation: International Nurses at Cassia

Growing up in the Philippines, Rose dreamed of becoming an engineer.

However, when her aunt offered her a college education if she studied nursing, Rose faced a tough decision. Seizing the opportunity, she embarked on a journey that would reshape her future in ways she never expected.

“I never imagined how that decision would change my life,” Rose says. “I fell in love with nursing along the way. I have been working as a nurse for more than a decade now and I cannot imagine myself doing anything else.”

Rose proudly participates in Cassia’s International Nurse Program. Since January 2023, she has been working in the United States, providing care at Moose Lake Village in Minnesota.

Rose treasures the opportunity to work with older adults.

“Working with older adults is a blessing,” Rose says. “I get the chance to know them on a personal level, hear their interesting stories, learn from their life experiences and build meaningful relationships with them.”

In 2000, chief compliance officer Sharon Wilson first led efforts to promote the international nursing program at what was then Augustana Care, now known as Cassia. She and other Augustana Care staff traveled with WorldWide HealthStaff Solutions to Philippines, London and United Arab Emirates to interview and hire international RNs.

For years, Cassia has actively recruited international registered nurses like Rose, hiring more than 400 RNs from around the globe to serve in communities across the organization.

“We typically hire 40 RNs per year,” says Sara Shore, director of recruitment. She adds that many extend well past their initial 2-3 year contracts, with some even advancing to management level.

In January 2024, Sharon and Sara traveled to Kenya to meet with government officials, hospital administrators and college nursing staff to discuss hiring more nurses from their nation. In addition to Kenya and the Philippines, Cassia has welcomed international nurses from a diverse array of countries, including Australia, Bahamas, Bangladesh, Ethiopia, Ghana, Haiti, Hungary, Nepal, Nigeria, Saudi Arabia, Tanzania, United Arab Emirates and Zimbabwe.

“The international RNs see working in the U.S. as achieving their American Dream which includes being able to continue their career ladder beyond a floor nurse,” Sara says.

In the U.S., they can buy property and own a home, which is not an option in countries like the United Arab Emirates. But, there’s another key difference between working for Cassia and other organizations.

“The nurses like coming to Cassia because Cassia is a faith-based organization that provides care for elders; that resonates with them!” Sara says. “Many know of friends who have come to work at Cassia and have heard good things about the organization, staff and residents.”

Amid the rampant spread of COVID, attracting, hiring and retaining nurses proved particularly challenging for the industry. International nurses stepped in to fill the void.

“They worked alongside our nurses to open COVID units at select nursing homes by request of DHS as other senior living communities said no. Without their presence and skills, Cassia would have looked much different,” Sara says.

The arrival of 53 international nurses in 2022 played a crucial role in keeping Cassia’s communities operational and open for admissions.

In 2021 and 2022, Cassia also expanded its program to include nursing aides, hiring 70 international candidates during that period. Processing paperwork for these nursing aids will take three to five years. Upon their arrival, Cassia will incur costs for training them to become certified nursing assistants and preparing them to take the state certification exam.

“We’re so grateful for these partnerships that help us overcome workforce challenges as we strive to foster fullness of life for older adults in the spirit of Christ’s love,” Sara says.

Rose and others like her bring stability, expertise and a spirit of service and compassion to their roles. They embody Cassia’s mission to help aging adults live life to the fullest, inspired by Christ’s love.

As Rose reflects on her journey, she is grateful for the unexpected path that led her to nursing. Rose’s experience at Cassia is not just about her career. It’s about creating a community and a sense of family, proving that sometimes, the best paths are those we never planned to take.

“Embarking on a journey as an international nurse is challenging. But I am blessed because the employees and residents here at Moose Lake Village treat me as family,” Rose says.