Why understanding nurse faculty migration could help to solve the nursing shortage

Findings of the 2010 Global Summit on Nurse Faculty Migration are now available in Nursing Outlook

The world would be a better place if there were more nurses caring for the people who live in it.  But for that to happen, the world needs more nurse educators to educate them.While much research has been conducted into the scarcity of nurses — including their migratory patterns and the resulting impact on their countries of origin and destination — research into the migratory patterns of nurse faculty is still lacking.

In 2010, with the help of the Elsevier Foundation, the International Council of Nurses and Sigma Theta Tau International (STTI) convened a seminal group of 21 international experts in nursing, migration and economics at the Global Summit on Nurse Faculty Migration. These experts worked together to define the issue, improve the knowledge base, and raise the urgency of understanding nurse faculty migration so further research would be conducted.

A summary of the summit's event have now been published in "The Global Summit on Nurse Faculty Migration," a freely available peer-reviewed article in the journal Nursing Outlook. The article, which also cites new research into the topic, is in press, scheduled for a January/February 2014 special issue on nurse migration patterns across the world.

Marion Broome, PhD, RN, FAAN, Professor and Dean of the Indiana University School of Nursing and Editor-in-Chief of Nursing Outlook, told me: "This article contributes in a significant way to our expanded understanding of the role that faculty migration across countries plays in nursing shortages in certain counties. Without qualified and committed faculty to prepare the next generation of nurses, the health of any country's citizens will suffer."   

Using consequence mapping techniques, participants considered three agreed-upon core trigger points (push and pull) related to nurse faculty migration: (1) the need to rapidly scale up nursing resources (2) the impact of globalization and international trade-in service agreements and (3) the aging nursing workforce.The group outlined several challenges facing health-care systems, including:

  • Adequate preparation, recruitment, and retention of nurse faculty
  • Assurance of ethical migration practices
  • Legal, educational, and cultural barriers faced by faculty migrating from home countries
  • Cultural, linguistic, legal, and health-care obstacles faculty face in establishing careers in adopted countries


Nursing faculty policy implications

  • Better data are needed to accurately track the scope and significance of nurse faculty migration globally and to map migration patterns as well as looming shortages.
  • A principle-based approach must be adopted by exporting and importing countries (governments and public and private entities) including principles of professional self-regulations, standards of performance, expectations of support, and so on.
  • Global as well as country-specific nursing education core skills must be identified.
  • Decision making and policies regarding nurse faculty migration should be rooted in current research and globally accepted ethical guidelines.


Recommendations for further research on nurse faculty migration included:

  • The creation and dissemination of an instrument to collect data and the engagement of academic institutions with related research experience.
  • Summit findings should be disseminated broadly, including through conference presentations and publication in professional journals.
  • Experts should develop a directional flowchart that will enable differentiation between migratory patterns of nurses and nurse faculty.

Nurse faculty migration videoPatricia Thompson, RN, EdD, FAAN, Chief Executive Officer of Sigma Theta Tau International and the article's corresponding author, told me she hopes "the findings from the summit will not only enhance knowledge and understanding of the potential impact of global nurse faculty migration but also mark the beginning of additional and needed research in this area."

I had the honor of attending the summit to represent the Elsevier Foundation as a guest observer and create a video featuring interviews with several participants. Fascinating discussions focused on the unique geopolitical, cultural and economic factors behind the decision to migrate, and the implications for health care in source and destination countries. Aspects including nurse education credentials, regulatory requirements, salaries, job responsibilities, safety and ethics vary by country, so having more research available to guide policy decision-making is crucial.

At Elsevier, we were particularly pleased to partner on the same project with both STTI and the International Council of Nurses (ICN) — two organizations we've known and admired for several years. Since 2008, we have funded STTI to create and administer the Nurse Faculty Leadership Academy, a leadership development program that helps participants remain in the profession. And we've partnered with the ICN and Merck since 2001 to support the Merck Mobile Nursing Library, which brings up-to-date health information to nurses working in remote areas of developing countries.

This was one of the most committed groups of professionals I've worked with — but then again, that's how so many of us feel when we're working with nurses. We look forward to the future research that is sure to come from this important gathering.


Read the article

"The Global Summit on Nurse Faculty Migration," Patricia Thompson et al, Nursing Outlook.


Elsevier Connect Author

[caption id="attachment_16177" align="alignright" width="150"]Tom RellerTom Reller[/caption]As VP and Head of Global Corporate Relations at Elsevier, Tom Reller (@TomReller) leads a global team of media, social and web communicators for the world's largest provider of scientific, technical and medical (STM) information products and services. Together, they work to build on Elsevier's reputation by promoting the company's numerous contributions to the health and science communities, many of which are brought to life in our new online community and information resource:Elsevier Connect.

Reller directs strategy, execution and problem-solving for external corporate communications, including media relations, issues management and policy communications, and acts as a central communications counsel and resource for Elsevier senior management. Additionally, he develops and nurtures external corporate/institutional relationships that broaden Elsevier's influence and generate good will, including partnerships developed through the Elsevier Foundation.

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