Nurse Migration from a Source Country Perspective: Philippines

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The Philippines is largely dependent on labour migration for easing the tight domestic labour market.  It is a national opinion that when students are sent to pursue nursing courses in Canada, they experience an improved quality of life and their families also benefit because of the remittances. Canada is one of the preferred destinations for international students to pursue nursing courses.  If we look at the demography, then the Philippines is one of the fastest-growing source countries to send international nursing students to Canada. Nurses from the Philippines actively migrate to study nursing in Canada, which further leads to a progression in their career.  The increase in the requirement of nursing professionals in Canada has led to a massive increase in the number of Filipino nurses in the country. However, other than this there are many other reasons as well. Let’s look at the nursing migration trends and benefits from the perspective of the Philippines. 

Filipino Nurse Migration: An Overview 

The Philippines is identified as one of the leading exporters of nurses to Canada. Nurses from the Philippines make up one of the largest groups of students who pursue nursing courses in Canada.  An overall increase in the immigration of health professionals leads Canada to become a preferred destination for Filipino nurses.  In order to gain a good insight into the immigration and the transition experience of nurses in Canada, we must understand the roots of this trend. Filipinos are one of the most caring societies that are known for their empathetic, caring, and social attributes. It is because of their highly nurturing spirit and caring temperament that Filipinos are given a high status as Canadian nurses.  The Filipino nurse migration was originally intended to serve as a temporary measure for easing unemployment. Some of the benefits included stabilizing the country’s balance of payments position and providing alternative employment for Filipinos. This trend that traces back to the 1950s saw an upsurge by the 1990s when the problem of widespread global nursing shortage started becoming a cause of concern. This was the time when destination countries such as Canada and the United States made recruitment offers permanent and attractive while creating strong pull factors. 

Nurses Supply and Employment

Nurses make up one of the largest groups of direct health care providers in the Philippines. Although physicians have been dominating the health care system traditionally, the past few years have led the nurses to emerge as a strong force often co-managing the health care facilities.  The domestic and foreign demands for nurses have generated a quickly growing nursing education sector making up numerous nursing colleges that offer Bachelor’s degrees. These colleges lead to thousands of nurses graduating annually. Based on the production and foreign demand patterns, the Philippines has a surplus of nurses, which leads to many nurses migrating to Canada in search of a better life.  Canada is known for its excellent healthcare system in the world. In addition to offering the best remuneration to foreign nurses, the nurses get immense respect while working in Canada. The Filipino nurses studying nursing in Canada can be assured of bright employment and salary prospects along with ample financial security.  Plus, nursing in Canada includes high pay rates based on experience, advanced nursing practice, administrative roles, etc. that fall in the upper category of the salary bracket. Salary prospects are actually on the higher side for nurses and as long as financial security is concerned, the internationally educated nurses enjoy substantial safety. Hence, Filipino nurses prefer moving to Canada for a bright career. 

Push and Pull Factors Driving Nurse Migration: 

There are a wide range of reasons that lead to the migration of Filipino nurses to Canada. Some of the push and pull factors driving the migration of nurses are:  

Push Factors:
  1. Economic Factors: Filipino nurses are offered comparatively low salaries in their home country. In addition, there is no payment for overtime and poor health insurance coverage. 
  2. Job Factors: There is immense workload and stressful working environments along with slow promotions. 
  3. Socio-Political and Economic Factors: There are limited employment opportunities, decreased health budgets, economic instability, and socio-political uncertainty in the Philippines. 
Pull Factors:
  1. Economic Factors: The nurses who migrate get a higher income, more benefits, and a better compensation package. 
  2. Job Factors: In Canada, there is a lower nurse-to-patient ratio, more options in terms of working hours, and chances to upgrade nursing skills. 
  3. Socio-Political and Economic Factors: The healthcare system in Canada relies on the usage of advanced technology, better socio-political and economic stability than that in the Philippines. 
  4. Personal and Familial Factors: The nurses and their families might be willing to migrate while maximizing the opportunity to travel and learn more about other cultures. 

In sum, the career shifts for nurses can be attributed to low compensation and salaries, feelings of hopelessness about the socio-political instability, poor working conditions, and malpractice in the Philippines. The nurse medics are drawn to attractive compensation and benefits packages, career growth, socio-political stability, job opportunities, and economic security that is offered in Canada. 

Philippines Nurse Migration Environment and Global Nursing Shortage

Out of all the healthcare workers in the country, nurses have been the most impacted by migration attrition because of global nursing shortages. There have been widely publicized shortages in the industrialized countries and other nations that have stimulated a high interest in nursing education investments and nursing recruitment all over the world.  Understanding the role played by nurses in improving the robustness of healthcare systems, the ongoing nursing shortage in Canada is titled a state of crisis. It has been reinstated consistently that Canada needs thousands of nurses to fill this nursing labor shortage effectively.  Due to a prevalent nursing shortage, almost every province of Canada is now aiming to open thousands of nursing vacancies in the next couple of years. It is acknowledged that the aging population of Canada requires more nurses to take care of the elderly and since Canadian universities cannot produce native nurses as quickly as they are required, the country is depending on internationally educated nurses.  The authorities in Canada are extensively interested in hiring Filipino nurses so that they can maintain a well-functioning and robust healthcare system. There is no stone left unturned when it comes to training the Filipino nurses so that they become accustomed and prepared to work in the Canadian healthcare settings. Nurses can choose from a wide number of nursing courses in Canada based on their personal interests and gain the rightful experience that is needed to succeed at a professional level. 

Benefits of Nurse Migration

There are many benefits that encourage Filipino nurses to move abroad and settle in countries such as Canada. Some of them include:  

1. Specialized Nursing Education:

Primarily, one of the most important reasons for a rise in the number of Filipino students applying for nursing courses in Canada is the high-quality nursing education offered in Canada.  In addition to a wide number of specializations that are offered for nursing graduates in Canada, the quality of education, and the number of job opportunities are considerably amazing.  

2. Professional Stability:

Canada is a land of promising academic and professional opportunities. With the healthcare sector of Canada facing a shortage, the demand for foreign nurses has increased immensely.  To fill this nursing shortage and avoid any kind of scarcity, Canada accepts many nursing applications from across the world. Canada offers financially stable professional opportunities to nurses with varying pay scales on the basis of specializations and experience.  

3. Practical Learning Experience:

Canada is a hub for nursing education as it offers practical nursing experience along with comprehensive research and clinical knowledge. Nursing in Canada is propelled ahead with an aim to develop the overall capabilities of nurses for fulfilling the dynamic roles in the healthcare industry.  The nursing colleges in Canada provide programs that help nurses gain experience in technical, professional, and personal competency in the nursing profession. Since Canada relies on internationally educated nurses it prepares and offers them numerous opportunities to prosper in the healthcare field.  

4. Multicultural Growth:

Canada has always supported multicultural growth which leads to ethnic and racial harmony. This promotes cross-cultural understanding and also enables Filipino nurses to feel a sense of belongingness and acceptance.  In addition to the Filipinos, people from a variety of different cultures comprise a major part of Canadian students and citizens. After completing a nursing course in Canada, not only do the Filipinos get an opportunity to know and explore different cultures, but they also benefit a lot in their nursing careers. 


Filipino nursing professionals migrate from the Philippines to study nursing in Canada because of many valid reasons. Out of all these reasons, one of the most profound ones is the ability to undergo the best nursing education that makes a difference in a nurse’s ability to offer quality patient care.  Nurses who have a sense of commitment and zeal to be there for patients can make a successful career in Canada. Hence, there is an increasing trend of nurse migration from the Philippines. 


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