The Nurses Association in the Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas says that recruitment and retention are the biggest issue facing the nursing profession in the territory.
The Association's president, Lee Castro, says it is a major concern for all American territories with many staff seeking the better conditions on the U.S. mainland.
He says the about 260 licensed nurses in the CNMI struggle with high numbers of patients while trying to maintain optimum standards of healthcare.
Lee Castro says pay scales need to be reviewed.
"Hawaii has the highest paying job for nurses followed by Guam then the CNMI. The rest are being paid very low. And there's a big discrepancy or I would say discrimination among the local and non-residents. Local nurses here, these people are being paid between US $17000 and US $20,000 on the lower level. On the upper level they go between US $25 to $30,000."
Lee Castro says they're hoping to work out solutions at this week's American Pacific Nursing Leaders Council meeting in Saipan, with participants from American Samoa, Micronesia, Guam, Hawaii, the Marshall Islands and Palau.