Why Nursing Grads In India Are Going International After Education

Manavi Agarwal

Last Updated: February 20, 2024
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In the ever-evolving landscape of global healthcare, a notable trend has emerged among nursing graduates in India—an increasing inclination towards international destinations post-education. Beyond the traditional career paths within the Indian healthcare system, a growing number of nursing professionals are setting their sights on opportunities abroad. In this blog, we unravel the factors driving this shift, examining the motivations, challenges, and unique experiences that propel nursing graduates towards international destinations for their professional journey. 

Why Are Nursing Graduates Choosing Foreign Countries?

Nursing Graduates

Exploring Opportunities Beyond Borders

Pursuing a nursing career in India is a remarkable choice, but many nursing graduates find themselves drawn to explore opportunities beyond the familiar borders of their home country. The appeal of working in foreign healthcare systems goes beyond the geographical shift; it’s about embracing a new professional horizon. International platforms offer exposure to cutting-edge technologies, diverse patient populations, and a global healthcare landscape that propels the careers of nursing professionals. According to reports in the Print, the Kerala government’s ODEPC scheme sent 253 nurses in February 2021 instead of the 40 nurses (the usual figure). The prospect of contributing to healthcare systems with different approaches becomes a magnet, promising a journey of continuous learning and growth.

The Pay Discrepancy

Nursing graduates in India often find themselves swayed by a glaring factor: the significant pay discrepancy between their home country and sought-after destinations like the UK. In India, while nursing is a respected profession, the financial compensation often falls short of reflecting the intensive education and unwavering commitment required. The scenario takes a noteworthy turn when considering opportunities in the UK. On average, a registered nurse in India may earn around INR 3-4 lakhs per annum, whereas their counterparts in the UK enjoy a significantly higher average annual salary, ranging from INR 25-30 lakhs. This vast difference in compensation becomes a compelling factor, motivating nursing grads to seek financial recognition that aligns more closely with their dedication.

  • Opportunities for Overtime and Specialisation: In the UK, nurses often have the option to earn extra through overtime, and the prospect of pursuing specialisations opens avenues for higher pay scales. This flexibility is a significant attraction.
  • Scope for Career Growth: The UK’s healthcare system offers a structured career ladder with opportunities for promotions and salary increments based on experience and additional qualifications. Registered nurses typically enter the system with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree, and many choose to pursue further education to enhance their skills and open doors for specialised roles. Postgraduate qualifications, such as a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) or a specialised certification, can significantly contribute to a nurse’s eligibility for promotions and increased responsibilities. This organised growth structure is appealing to nursing professionals seeking long-term career stability.

Pursuing Specialisations

Pursuing specialisations

The desire for professional growth and specialisation is a driving force behind nursing graduates seeking international pathways. Countries like the UK present a broader array of specialisations and opportunities for career advancement. Pursuing advanced degrees or certifications in specialised fields becomes an enticing prospect for those seeking to elevate their expertise. The global palette of options in terms of specialisations is a significant pull, promising a dynamic and varied career trajectory.

Specialisations Offered in the UK:

  • Critical Care Nursing: Specialising in critical care opens doors to roles in intensive care units (ICUs) and high-dependency units (HDUs).
  • Mental Health Nursing: Mental health nursing specialisation equips professionals to work in psychiatric and mental health settings, addressing a critical aspect of healthcare.
  • Paediatric Nursing: Specialising in paediatric nursing prepares professionals for roles in paediatric wards, neonatal units, and other child-centric healthcare settings.
  • Oncology Nursing: This specialisation focuses on providing care to individuals diagnosed with cancer, offering opportunities to work in oncology units and cancer care facilities.

Work-Life Balance

In the world of nursing, where demands are high, the concept of work-life balance becomes a key deciding factor for many professionals. The appeal of working in countries that prioritise and emphasise a healthy equilibrium is undeniable. Beyond the professional growth, nursing graduates are drawn to foreign healthcare systems that offer a work environment where personal well-being is considered, ensuring a fulfilling professional life without compromising the essential aspects of life outside the workplace.

Global Recognition

Pursuing Specialisations

The concept of global recognition plays a crucial role in the decisions of nursing graduates. Countries like the UK, with its Magnet Recognition Program fostering a culture of excellence in nursing practice, become particularly attractive. The prestige associated with working in Magnet-recognised institutions acts as a magnet itself, drawing skilled professionals from around the world. The prospect of being part of a healthcare system that values and acknowledges their contributions on a global scale is a compelling reason for many nursing graduates to venture abroad.

Overcoming Challenges: Making India A Prime Destination

To retain nursing talent within its borders, India must confront and overcome challenges. Competitive pay scales that reflect the true worth of nursing professionals, investment in advanced healthcare infrastructure, and fostering an environment conducive to specialisation are pivotal. Initiatives promoting research and collaboration can elevate the status of nursing in India, making it an equally attractive option for graduates who currently look beyond their home country for opportunities.

How This Can Be Achieved:

  • Competitive Pay Scales: Introduce pay scales that align with the level of expertise and commitment of nursing professionals, ensuring competitive compensation within the Indian healthcare system.
  • Investment in Infrastructure: Allocate resources to invest in advanced healthcare infrastructure, including state-of-the-art facilities, equipment, and technology that can match international standards.
  • Promoting Specialisation: Develop programmes and initiatives that encourage and support nursing professionals in pursuing specialised education and training within India.
  • Recognition of Expertise: Implement measures that recognise and reward the expertise of nursing professionals, fostering an environment where their contributions are valued and acknowledged.

Policy Reforms: Paving The Way For Growth

Revamping policies is paramount in transforming India into a prime destination for nursing careers. Implementing measures that prioritise the welfare of nursing professionals, including competitive compensation, better working conditions, and robust professional development opportunities, can revolutionise the landscape. Policy reforms that address the unique challenges faced by nursing graduates can pave the way for growth, creating an environment where nursing professionals thrive and contribute significantly to the nation’s healthcare sector.

  • Research and Collaboration Initiatives: Encourage policies that promote research and collaboration within the nursing field. This could involve establishing research grants, fostering partnerships between healthcare institutions and universities, and creating platforms for knowledge exchange.
  • Professional Development Opportunities: Introduce policies that support the continuous professional development of nursing professionals. This could include funding for workshops, training programmes, and certifications that enhance their skills and keep them updated with the latest advancements in healthcare.
  • Workplace Conditions and Benefits: Implement policies to ensure favourable workplace conditions, including reasonable working hours, adequate staffing levels, and employee benefits. This would contribute to a positive work environment and improve overall job satisfaction among nursing professionals.

Charting A Future For Nursing In India

The blog illuminates the multifaceted reasons behind the migration of nursing grads from India. While the allure of international prospects is undeniable, India can be transformed into a prime destination for nursing careers. Bridging the pay gap, offering specialised opportunities, and implementing policy reforms are crucial steps. Let’s envision a future where Indian nursing grads flourish on home soil, contributing to the nation’s healthcare tapestry.

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