Does migration play a role in the availability of health care workers? What are the migration patterns? | India Does migration play a role in the availability of health care workers? What are the migration patterns? | India

06 Jul 2022

Migration of Indian nurses to other countries has long been documented, but recently, the trends have increased. Increasing international demand, desire for a more respectable and successful life, aggressive recruitment and increasing number of institutions providing training in line with international curriculum and placement support have contributed to this. Traditionally, migration  has been to nearby countries, especially to the Middle East because these countries are less expensive to immigrate to and have easier employment criteria in comparison to Western countries (Gill et al, 2011). However, the geographic expanse of migration has increased to Canada, the USA and the UK, Australia, and New Zealand (Garner, Conroy, & Bader, 2015). Although, due to changes in immigration policies there has been a decline in Indian nurses migrating to the USA and UK (World Health Organization (WHO), 2017). Within the country, there is a huge gap in the availability of nurses. The South trains more nurses (as they have significantly more nursing colleges) giving an impression of ‘surplus’ while the North faces a shortage of nurses and, hence, it serves as potentially attractive job market for the nurses trained in the South.

It is suggested that since the number of undergraduate places far outnumber those for post-graduates, young doctors leave the country for advanced training, fellowships, and job opportunities. There is a trend of returning to the country after training abroad; however, the drain is undercompensated and a large share of those returning settle in metropolitan cities. The urban centricity of the health workforce continues, especially in the private sector. Migration patterns among other health personnel in India have not been adequately studied.


Garner, S. L., Conroy, S. F., & Bader, S. G. (2015). Nurse migration from India: A literature review. International Journal of Nursing Studies, 52(12), 1879–1890. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ijnurstu.2015.07.003

Gill, R. (2011). Nursing shortage in India with special reference to international migration of nurses. Social Medicine6(1), 52-59. Available from: https://socialmedicine.info/index.php/socialmedicine/article/viewFile/517/1088

World Health Organization (2017). From Brain Drain To Brain Gain Migration Of Nursing And Midwifery Workforce In The State of Kerala. World Health Organization.