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Doctor migration, health workforce planning, human resources for health, high skilled migration


Health Research Board


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Abstract Background: Research on health worker migration in the Irish context has categorized migrant health workers by country or region of training (for example, non-EU nurses or doctors) or recruitment mechanism (for example, actively recruited nurses). This paper applies a new typology of health worker migrants – livelihood, career-oriented, backpacker, commuter, undocumented and returner migrants (European Observatory on Health Systems and Policies and WHO, vol. 2:129-152, 2014) – to the experiences of non-EU migrant doctors in Ireland and tests its utility for understanding health worker migration internationally. Methods: The paper draws on quantitative survey (N = 366) and qualitative interview (N = 37) data collected from non-EU migrant doctors in Ireland between 2011 and 2013. Results: Categorizing non-EU migrant doctors in Ireland according to the typology (European Observatory on Health Systems and Policies and WHO, vol. 2:129-152, 2014) offers insight into their differing motivations, particularly on arrival. Findings suggest that the career-oriented migrant is the most common type of doctor among non-EU migrant doctor respondents, accounting for 60 % (N = 220) of quantitative and 54 % (N = 20) of qualitative respondents. The authors propose a modification to the typology via the addition of two additional categories – the family migrant and the safety and security migrant. Conclusions: Employing a typology of health worker migration can facilitate a more comprehensive understanding of the migrant medical workforce, a necessary prerequisite for the development of useful policy tools (European Observatory on Health Systems and Policies and WHO, vol. 2:129-152, 2014). The findings indicate that there is some fluidity between categories, as health worker motivations change over time. This indicates the potential for policy levers to influence migrant health worker decision-making, if they are sufficiently “tuned in” to migrant health worker motivation. Keywords: Doctor migration, Migration typology, Medical workforce planning, Health workforce planning, Health human resources for health


Medicine and Health Sciences


Humphries N, McAleese S, Tyrrell E, Thomas S, Normand C, Brugha R. Applying a typology of health worker migration to non-EU migrant doctors in Ireland. Human Resources for Health. 2015 Jun 26;13(1):52.

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