Immigrant Nurses in High Demand in Western Countries
10 May 2006
An acute nursing shortage in Western nations
continues to worsen as the population's age. Foreign-educated nurses emigrating
to meet this demand are commanding premium salaries and priority visa
It is estimated there are 2.2 to 3 million
working nurses averaging 47 years old in the U.S., for example. The annual
vacancy rate is approximately 9 percent and projections anticipate a shortage of
800,000 nurses by 2050. Other estimates are more dramatic, perhaps reaching 1
million vacancies to be filled by 2012 (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics).
During past nursing shortages, typically a few
thousand foreign-trained nurses could fill all U.S. opportunities in a given
year. However, 2001 saw a spike to 40,000 nurses from overseas and signs
indicate this will be a sustained influx for several decades. Debate in the U.S.
and Europe exists regarding whether or not to lower restrictions and caps on
immigrants that qualify to fill these vacancies.
Incentives to work in the West are high. For
one example, Filipino nurses may expect to make approximately $200 USD per month
in the Philippines. In the U.S. they may expect a more typical salary of $50,000
USD up to $100,000 USD. It is estimated that Filipino nurses send $11 billion
USD back to their home country every year.
Salaries are not the only factor. The working
conditions are usually much better, both for the nurses and the patients. The
quality of care, additional experience and training, general benefits, and
equipment is usually superior.
Foreign-trained nurses who meet skills and
language criteria receive priority against the years-long backlog faced by many
hopeful immigrants with skills that are in lower demand. Additionally, the
future of the labour market in nursing indicates older nurses will continue to
enjoy employment. This demographic, along with the foreign-born and trained
category, are both enjoying annual 15% growth in the U.S.
Additionally, thousands of doctors are
beginning train to become nurses to qualify for openings in the West. It has
become more desirable to decertify as a doctor and get a job as a nurse in many
cases. South Korea recently pledged 10,000 nurses during the next five years to
New York hospitals to assist in the shortfall. African and Caribbean countries
are seeing many of their nurses leaving for the
United States, Europe and
Due to the difficulty of practicing as a nurse
in the US, many immigrant nurses target countries like
Canada. The English proficiency exams and other competency tests in the U.S. are
currently more rigorous.
Visas for medical professionals