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Yes, the grass IS greener: Why Canadian nurses go -- and stay -- in the USA

(Toronto: May 14, 2009) A study looking at Canadian-educated registered nurses working in the USA found that opportunities for ongoing education, including formal support for graduate education and ease of licensure, in addition to full-time employment, were key factors that contribute to the migration of Canadian nurses to the USA, particularly baccalaureate-educated nurses.

Bloomberg Faculty of Nursing's Dr. Linda McGillis Hall, Associate Dean, Research, is the lead author of the study, published online today in the International Nursing Review.

"These findings are important for Canadian health services policy-makers to consider, as they develop strategies to retain nurses in Canada," says Hall. "The emigration of Canadian RNs to the USA worsens existing shortages in Canada, and creates shortages where none might have existed if these RNs had remained."

The study also found that:

  • A greater proportion of Canadian RNs working in the US were employed full-time than their American counterparts, or their Canadian counterparts in Canada

  • A higher proportion of Canadian nurses working in the US hold graduate degrees, compared with those working in Canada

  • Canada is viewed as a rich source of young, well-educated RNs with the added advantage of low recruitment costs due to geographic proximity, similar cultures and language, reciprocally recognized orientation and basic nursing training

These findings suggest a serious depletion of nursing human capital is on the horizon, as degree-educated nurses emigrate to the United States, says Hall.

The purpose of this study was to gain an understanding of Canadian-educated registered nurses working in the USA, why nurses leave Canada, remain outside of Canada, or under what circumstances might return to Canada. Data for this study include the 1996, 2000 and 2004 USA National Sample Survey of Registered Nurses and reports from the same time period from the Canadian Institute for Health Information.


Contact: Lucianna Ciccocioppo
University of Toronto

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