International Nurses assisting a Patient with breathing difficulties.

Migration of nurses

The previous section focussed on stress in nursing. One of the consequences of stress is that nurses seek opportunities in other parts of the world – international nurse migration (ICN 2013).

One of the most critical issues affecting nurse shortages in the world’s poorer regions is global migration (Buchan and Calman 2006).

The recruitment of foreign nurses is seen by many employers as a solution to local staff shortages. However, this creates a ‘pull factor’ which attracts nurses away from poorer parts of the world to wealthy countries, such as the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, Ireland and Canada (Yun et al. 2010).

Data on the movement of nurses to new countries, although incomplete for some regions, reveals patterns in migration. These patterns are analysed to develop strategies aimed at reducing the loss of trained nurses to richer regions. This is vital for countries which can ill afford to subsidise the education of nurses in other countries.


Buchan J. and Calman L. (2006) ‘The Global Shortage of Registered Nurses: An Overview of Issues and Actions’. International Council of Nurses [online]. available from [20 October 2017]

Yun, H., Jie, S., and Anli, J. (2010) ‘Nursing Shortage in China: State, Causes and Strategy’. Nursing Outlook [online] 58 (3), 122-128. DOI: 10.1016/j.outlook.2009.12.002. Abstract available from [7 December 2017]

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Nursing in Crisis? Exploring Current Challenges

Coventry University