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Recent Trends in International Migration of Doctors, Nurses and Medical Students

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This report describes recent trends in the international migration of doctors and nurses in OECD countries. Over the past decade, the number of doctors and nurses has increased in many OECD countries, and foreign-born and foreign-trained doctors and nurses have contributed to a significant extent. New in-depth analysis of the internationalisation of medical education shows that in some countries (e.g. Israel, Norway, Sweden and the United States) a large and growing number of foreign-trained doctors are people born in these countries who obtained their first medical degree abroad before coming back. The report includes four case studies on the internationalisation of medical education in Europe (France, Ireland, Poland and Romania) as well as a case study on the integration of foreign-trained doctors in Canada.

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Recent trends in international mobility of doctors and nurses

This chapter reviews the contribution of foreign-born and foreign-trained doctors and nurses to the rising number of doctors and nurses working in OECD countries over the past decade. The number of foreign-trained doctors working in OECD countries increased by 50% between 2006 and 2016 (to reach nearly 500 000 in 2016), while the number of foreign-trained nurses increased by 20% over the five-year period from 2011 to 2016 (to reach nearly 550 000). The United States is still the main country of destination of foreign-trained doctors and nurses, followed by the United Kingdom and Germany. The number of foreign-trained doctors has also increased rapidly over the past decade in some European countries like Ireland, France, Switzerland, Norway and Sweden. However, it is important to bear in mind that not all foreign-trained doctors are foreigners as a large number in countries such as Norway, Sweden and the United States are people born in the country who obtained their first medical degree abroad before coming back. In these cases, it is not appropriate to refer to this phenomenon as a “brain drain”, particularly as these people usually pay the full cost of their education while studying abroad.

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