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Internationally educated nurses: profiling workforce diversity


  • Jennifer Blythe phd,

    Corresponding author
    1. Senior Scientist,
    2. Associate Professor, School of Nursing,
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  • Andrea Baumann rn, phd

    1. Director, Nursing Health Services Research Unit (McMaster University site),
    2. Associate Vice President, International Health, Faculty of Health Sciences, McMaster University, Hamilton, ON, Canada,
    3. Director, World Health Organization Collaborating Centre in Health Human Resources, Hamilton, ON, Canada
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Dr Jennifer Blythe, Nursing Health Services Research Unit, 1200 Main Street West, MDCL 3500, Hamilton, ON, Canada L8N 3Z5; Tel: 905-525-9140 ext. 22281; Fax: 905-522-5493; E-mail:


Aim:  Nurses with diverse educational and cultural backgrounds are likely to adapt differently to new workforces. The aim of this study was to provide a profile of nurses educated in different countries who are employed in a major settlement jurisdiction.

Background:  Despite difficulties in measuring its magnitude, it is evident that nurse migration has increased as a result of globalization. Major destinations for internationally educated nurses (IENs) include the USA, Canada, the UK, Australia and the Gulf States. Chief donor countries include the Philippines, India and other South Asian countries. Half of all IENs registered in Canada work in the province of Ontario.

Methods:  Published literature and secondary data were used to profile cohorts of nurses educated in different countries who are employed in the Ontario workforce.

Findings:  Statistics available on IENs in Ontario reveal a largely urban settlement pattern. There are major differences among IEN cohorts in terms of age, gender, work status, and type and place of employment.

Discussion and conclusions:  Although IENs resident in Ontario could not be quantified, a relatively detailed description of IENs in the workforce was possible. Comparison of nurse cohorts indicated that generalizations about IENs should be made with caution. Changes in regulatory conditions have a significant effect on IEN employment. Difficulties associated with international educational and regulatory differences illustrate the need to create global nursing standards. Further investigation of differences in workforce profiles should provide insights leading to improved utilization of IENs.