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Salaries, demand and career opportunities contribute to global nursing faculty migration

Indianapolis, 19 August, 2010 Twenty-one experts from 12 countries convened near Geneva, Switzerland, in late June to explore current patterns, types, and causal and contributing factors of global nurse faculty migration, a phenomenon where nursing faculty leave their country of origin to work elsewhere. This international summit, convened by the International Council of Nurses (ICN) and the Honor Society of Nursing, Sigma Theta Tau International (STTI) and supported by The Elsevier Foundation, was the first time an interdisciplinary group of leaders proactively addressed the critical need for qualified nursing faculty globally.

This visionary group concluded insufficient information and research-based evidence about nurse faculty migration existed and that much work needs to be done to prepare, recruit and retain faculty, ensure ethical migration and overcome the barriers faculty face when choosing to work in a country other than the one in which they initially qualified.

"The participation of these global leaders reflects the importance of the issue. Nurse faculty migration is a topic that has been under-addressed up until now," said STTI President Karen H. Morin, RN, DNS, ANEF. "And, it's a global issue that is more acute in some areas of the world."

When faculty cross borders they are faced with variances in health care delivery models; they endure cultural, linguistic and legal differences; and they face differences in education delivery models.

David Benton, ICN chief executive officer, commented, "This meeting, in addition to gathering and considering the available evidence, also looked at several future scenarios and their potential consequences for ensuring sustainability in current faculty preparation, recruitment and retention. Identifying future solutions ahead of time in relation to faculty is critical to securing next generation quality practitioners."

During the summit, contributors identified reasons faculty pursue opportunities in a country other than their own, which include push/pull factors, individual reasons and academic system trends. Some of these are similar to those impacting on front-line staff, but others are different.

Contributing factors identified include:

  • Higher pay opportunities
  • Access to research funding
  • Career opportunities
  • Provisions for post-basic education
  • Disproportionate increase in workload without increase in resources
  • Lack of interest in nursing faculty careers
  • High educational costs associated with faculty training
  • Opportunity to work with expert peers and participate in research collaborations
  • Changes in minimum educational preparation

"The ability to educate more nurses is critical to improving health care quality across the globe," said David Ruth, executive director of The Elsevier Foundation. "Only by taking these steps to understand how migration contributes to the nurse faculty shortage can we truly begin to effect change. We are proud to be at the forefront of this initiative."

The group of experts included international nurse leaders and health care experts with areas of expertise including: academe, policy bodies, professional associations, government agencies, trade organizations, migration and economics.

Expert participants:

  • Ms. Virginia Adams, USA
  • Mr. David Benton, Switzerland
  • Dr. Eric Chan, Switzerland
  • Dr. John Daly, Australia
  • Dr. Anita Alero Davies, Switzerland
  • Mr. Dale Honeck, Switzerland
  • Dr. Hester Klopper, South Africa
  • Ms. Julia Lear, Switzerland
  • Dr. Anne Lekeux, Belgium
  • Professor Kath McCourt, UK
  • Ms. Sheillah Matinhure, Tanzania
  • Dr. Isabel Costa Mendes, Brazil
  • Dr. Hiroko Minami, Japan
  • Dr. Karen H. Morin, USA
  • Ms. Elizabeth Oywer, Kenya
  • Dr. Laura Morn Pea, Mexico
  • Dr. Kathleen Potempa, USA
  • Dr. Suzanne Prevost, USA
  • Dr. Patricia E. Thompson, USA
  • Dr. Josefina Tuazon, Philippines
  • Dr. Pascal Zurn, Switzerland

In 2009, a survey by the American Association of Colleges of Nursing found that almost two-thirds of responding nursing schools pointed to a faculty shortage as the reason for not accepting more applicants.

Organizations such as the Canadian Nurses Association, the Canadian Association of Schools of Nursing, the National League for Nursing and the American Association of Colleges of Nursing have sought to quantify the problem, but little research exists in order to assess what can be done about these trends.

Information provided by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) suggests that there is an increase in international migration of skilled workers in health, education and new technology. And, the regulatory body for medicine in Pakistan has identified that faculty moving between universities mid-semester disrupts the learning process.

Summit findings will be compiled into a final report that will detail the factors surrounding this issue and suggest realistic, tangible and measurable next steps to address global faculty shortages.


Contact: Rachael McLaughlin

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