Employment Experiences of Internationally Educated Nurses: A Literature Review

Thursday, 15 July 2010: 3:45 PM

Salimah Walani, MSN, MPH
Department of Graduate Nursing, Felician College, Lodi, NJ

Learning Objective 1: Describe common themes related to the employment experiences of Internationally Educated Nurses

Learning Objective 2: Identify gaps in the literature related to the employment experiences of Internationally Educated Nurses

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 of the United States (US) law prohibits employment discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex and national origin (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission [EEOC], 1997). Kingma ( 2006, p.70) wrote that “perhaps the most serious problem migrant nurses encounter is racism and discrimination”.  Quantitative and qualitative studies in English language that explored the employment experiences of Internationally Educated Nurses were reviewed.  

Keywords included, wages, job inequalities, foreign workers, immigrant nurses, foreign nurses, international nurses, international healthcare professionals, nurse migration, discrimination, employment discrimination, human capital and returns to education.

A review of quantitative and qualitative studies from the US, Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia and Iceland about the employment experiences of IENs showed that the evidence from the UK is strong with multiple studies suggesting that IENs working in the UK encounter employment discrimination including unequal opportunity. The evidence in Canada is limited but indicates that IEN might be subjected to discrimination in their employment settings. The data on employment experiences of IENs in the US is scarce and the available studies due to their methodological limitations do not allow us to conclude whether or not IENs in the US encounter employment discrimination.

According to the estimates from the 2004 NSSRN data, IENs constitute 3.5% of the nursing workforce (United States Department of Health and Human Services, 2006), however global migration of registered nurses is rising.  The results of this literature review advance our understanding of the experiences of IENs and emphasize the need to conduct research related to the experiences of IENs in the US.