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Nursing migration: global treasure hunt or disaster-in-the-making?

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Nursing migration: global treasure hunt or disaster-in-the-making?

International nurse migration — moving from one country to another in the search of employment — is the focus of this article. The majority of member states of the World Health Organization report a shortage, maldistribution and misutilisation of nurses. International recruitment has been seen as a solution. The negative effects of international migration on the ‘supplier’ countries may be recognised today but are not effectively addressed.

Nurse migration is motivated by the search for professional development, better quality of life and personal safety. Pay and learning opportunities continue to be the most frequently reported incentives for nurse migration, especially by nurses from less-developed countries. Career opportunities were considered key incentives for nurses emigrating from high-income countries. Language was reported to be a significant barrier. The positive global economic/social/professional development resulting from international migration needs to be weighed against a substantial ‘brain and skills drain’ experienced by supplier countries. The vulnerable status of migrant nurses is also of concern in certain cases. The focus on short-term solutions as opposed to resolving the problem of a worldwide shortage of nurses causes great concern. Recent initiatives attempt to curb or channel international recruitment. The delicate balance between recognising the right of individual nurses to migrate and a collective concern for the health of a nation’s population must be achieved.
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Keywords: globalisation; incentive; migration; nurses; shortage

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: December 1, 2001

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