Is there trouble ahead for nursing in the Emirates?

In college, one of Bss's friends and fellow dorm RA was a nursing student. She was the first person that told me about the great nursing shortage that America was beginning to face. Later, one of our church members was a nursing professor who told us more about the problems that were coming. I was thinking about this problem and how it relates to the Emirates when I saw a couple of articles this week.

With a world-wide shortage of nurses, richer countries are importing them from elsewhere:
Everyone needs nurses. Almost every country is scrambling to find and keep them. The result is a trickle train that transports nurses to more money and better working conditions, from poor countries to richer ones that lure them.

"I know there are a lot of organizations where the pressures are, ‘Get the workers in. I don’t care how you get them, get them in,’ " said Cathy Druce, RN, a nurse recruiter at Harrison Hospital in Bremerton, Wash[ington (state), USA]. "It’s very much dog-eat-dog." The train essentially stops in the United States. "In America, they pay top salaries."

So among the nurses leaving for America are Canadians (it is especially easy for Canadian nurses to work in the US, because they "can enter the United States on the TN visa passed under NAFTA, available only to citizens of Canada and Mexico. It’s easier than obtaining a green card." (previous link). So now, some hospitals in Calgary have now begun recruiting nurse here in the UAE as well as elsewhere.

Now it is possible that these nurses are Emiratis, but it seems more likely that these are expat nurses. I know that there are a lot of Philipino nurses here ("The top six countries that employ Filipino nurses are Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Britain, Taiwan, Ireland and the United States.") and other nationalities as well. Also, the US will now allow Philipino nurses to take their license exams in the Philippines, which will make it even easier for them to move to the US to take jobs.

Add in the factor of possible citizenship* (available in the US, Canada, etc but not in the GCC) to the higher salaries that the West offers, which the shortage should increase further, and it would seems likely that those nurses with a choice will choose to go west. This would seem to mean that the Emirates will have to import their nurses from those countries with less rigorous training.

* I say this because of an interesting conversation I had once with a naturalized American citizen. This person told me that there are many cases of one brother going to the UAE and another going to Canada or the US. The one in the Emirates works for many years, saves a lot of money, and then at retirement returns home. The one in the West works many years, saves a lot of money, and then is given the chance to become a citizen of the new country.

(NB: I am not criticizing the Emirates for not offering citizenship to expats. I am merely pointing out that in a global economy, especially one in which it is a seller's market, such things will be considered by potential employees.)

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