NEW YORK (PIX11) — New York City is trying to help with the nurse shortage in the hospital system by training and certifying nurses who previously held nursing jobs in their native countries.

The city says there is a critical labor shortage in the area, especially when it comes to nurses, which is why training and certifying those with international experience is essential to meeting the needs of the health care system.

“I love to be a nurse and I want to be a nurse here. That’s my passion,” said 59-year-old Irene Huachi, who was a nurse back in Ecuador before she moved to the United States two decades ago.

She has been working as a patient aid in New York while caring for her kids. During the pandemic, she realized she wanted to help even more.

“I wanted to do it but I couldn’t … because there are rules and regulations,” said Huachi. “It was really hard. My heart was broken because I want to help and I couldn’t.”

That’s why she applied to be trained and certified as a New York nurse through the Department of Small Business Services’ new initiative. Internationally-trained nurses who now live in New York will be able to sign up for free classes at LaGuardia Community College in Queens or Lehman College in the Bronx, with both full-time and part-time options.

The program is part Mayor Eric Adams’ economic recovery plan. Applicants must have a nursing degree from a non-English speaking country, speak English or be willing to speak English, live in New York City, be vaccinated against COVID-19 and have access to internet for training.

Books, test prep, software and the test itself are free. Once hired, the nurses will be paid about $100,000, which to many is more than achieving the American Dream.

The city is accepting applications now. To apply, visit this website.