Nurse Migration from a Source Country Perspective: India

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India is considered to be one of the largest nurse exporters in the world. Many Indian nurses work in countries such as Canada because of various personal, professional, and social reasons. With the increasing globalization and the rising demand for nursing professionals, this number may grow in the future.  Developed countries give great importance to the advancement of the profession of nursing. For example, the field of nursing in Canada is expanding with plenty of new specializations making their way to the Canadian healthcare system.  This expansion ofnursing in Canada demands the hiring of an increasing number of internationally educated nurses year after year. In addition, the demand for nurses has also been rapidly increasing because of an aging population in Canada. These robust demands are the reason behind attracting a substantial number of nurses from India and other developing countries.  The Indian nurses are offered opportunities to get high-quality education from prominent nursing colleges in Canada and become competent nurses. This serves well for both the nurses and the Canadian healthcare system, resulting in the growth of nurse migration from India.  Let’s get a better understanding of nurse migration from a source country perspective of India. 

Growth of India in Producing Healthcare Workers: 

India has been experiencing tremendous growth in its capacity to produce healthcare workers. It serves as a major source country for migrant nurses and doctors across the world. According to the Global Code of Practice on the International Recruitment of Health Personnel, India has been practicing ethical international recruitment of health workers taking into account the rights and obligations of its own and destination countries and the health care workers as well.  The production capacity of nurses has grown over time in India. The number of institutions offering bachelor’s degree courses has increased as well. This highlights the remarkable increase in the production capacity of nurses who are prepared for advanced training.  India has long had a tradition of nurses migrating overseas in search of better opportunities. Canada has been one of the top countries to report a steady increase in the inflow of Indian nurses.  For the nurses trained in India, the pull to migrate to Canada includes globally renowned nursing education, improved salaries, better working conditions, job security, access to health care technologies, and enhanced quality of life for the family.  Indian nurses on the whole are often faced with long and strenuous working hours, comparatively lower salaries, and a stigma against the nursing profession, which collectively gives rise to push factors that influence decisions to migrate.  

Background of Nurse Migration:  

India has a complex healthcare system with numerous factors influencing its development. Even though the country has been experiencing substantial economic growth, the public contribution to overall healthcare expenditure in India has been a small percentage of GDP.   The human resources of health in India are known by a diversity of health workers including the practitioners of allopathic and Indian systems of medicine. The workforce includes many informal medical practitioners who are known as registered medical practitioners. In the past few decades, India has undergone remarkable growth in the overall capacity to produce medical nurses and doctors.  At the national level, the number of institutions offering Bachelor of Science (BSc) Nursing degrees has increased. Moreover, nursing education is offered at a subsidized fee in government institutes while the cost of private education is way higher. 

Migration of Indian Healthcare Workers: 

Migration of the healthcare workers, mostly from low and middle-income countries to more developed countries has been getting a lot of attention. The migration of health personnel highlights benefits such as transfer of skills, knowledge, high technology, professional development, and better remunerations.  After the nurses trained in the Philippines, the nurses trained in India form an important part of internationally educated nurses working overseas. Many Indian nurses form a significant part of the nursing workforce in the member countries of the OECD as well. States such as Punjab and Kerala have many nurses who have an inclination to migrate overseas.  Moreover, the demand to recruit well-trained and English-speaking nurses has been increasing since the 1950s to overcome the nursing shortage faced by many countries. Canada is a perfect example of the same. It is a country that has been providing academic and professional opportunities to internationally educated nurses so that its healthcare system can be strengthened.  Where some nurses apply for nursing courses in Canada to get a high-quality education, some others migrate because of high-income prospects, proficient nurse training, and lucrative professional opportunities. Nurses who apply for nursing jobs in Canada are trained with a process-oriented approach that gives them an opportunity to maximize their career potential and achieve the success they deserve. 

Intention Behind Migration and Influencing Factors: 

From a personal perspective, most Indian nurses report economic reasons as the primary trigger for migrating in the first instance. However, this is not something that entirely explains the decision to move from migratory destinations because sometimes the economic needs are already fulfilled.  In many cases, migration is also influenced by social and professional aspirations that highlight the influence of the cultural environment. In other cases, family support and migratory networks in the country of origin and destination are also important elements that are supportive of migration.  Indian nurses come to Canada because of many influencing factors such as:  

1. Age

The mobility of Indian nurses to move to Canada counts age as an important factor. Often, the young Indian nurses are more mobile as compared to the old. Younger nurses are comparatively more inclined towards experiencing an improved professional life in Canada and have serious intentions to move abroad. 

2. Marital Status:

Another factor that affects the decision of Indian nurses to move abroad is their marital status. Nurses who are single tend to be highly motivated to migrate because a single person is more mobile than a married person as the latter needs to look after the family which limits migration.  Some families may also discourage nurses to move abroad while some other families can be supportive of the decision to migrate. Regardless, single nurses have a higher intention to migrate abroad.  

3. Higher Education:

Completing their higher nursing education in Canada allows Indian nurses to have wide career opportunities. The education is world-renowned and allows them to specialize in a field and take on a leadership role. Many nursing graduates decide to become nurse educators which enable them to mentor others who are aspiring to become professional nurses.   

4. Professional Scope:

Some of the common motivations behind becoming a nurse include the ease to find a job, a higher salary, and a provision of services to the sick. All of these motivations also have an impact on the intention to migrate.  Canada is a country that provides unlimited opportunities to nurses for getting respectable jobs in the specializations of their choice along with lucrative salaries.  Completing a nursing course in Canada can help in making a nurse eligible to capitalize on wide career opportunities. Based on the specialization that a nurse completes, he/she can work in different healthcare settings. 


The international recruitment of Indian nurses has led to an efficient healthcare system in Canada. It helps talented nurses to escape from hardships, build a new life, and make exceptional contributions in providing better healthcare services.  From the perspective of Canada, this migration trend of Indian nurses has led to the evolution of the nursing job market in Canada while making the healthcare settings highly robust and competent. Hence, the nurse migration pattern from the perspective of India holds great promise. 


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