Skip main navigation

Migration of nurses

The recruitment of foreign nurses may relives local staff shortages, though most critically affects nurse shortages in the world’s poorer regions.
Indian nurses prepare a medical chart list at a hospital in Mumbai.
© PAL PILLAI/Stringer/Getty Images
The previous section focused on violence in nursing and the stress that it causes.

One of the consequences of stress is that nurses seek opportunities in other parts of the world – international nurse 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).

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

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.

Your task

We’ve identified violence and stress as a reason to migrate. Can you think of other reasons?


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 [19 June 2019]

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 [20 April 2018]

© Coventry University. CC BY-NC 4.0
This article is from the free online

Nursing in Crisis? Exploring Current Challenges

Created by
FutureLearn - Learning For Life

Reach your personal and professional goals

Unlock access to hundreds of expert online courses and degrees from top universities and educators to gain accredited qualifications and professional CV-building certificates.

Join over 18 million learners to launch, switch or build upon your career, all at your own pace, across a wide range of topic areas.

Start Learning now