Nurse's StationScrubs

Nursing trends around the world in the last decade


Hemera | Thinkstock

Nursing is a profession that’s going strong in every country in the world. Here’s a big-picture look at global trends and current statistics (not to mention interesting challenges!) that nurses are facing in all parts of the world.

1. Overtime
Overtime may be an inevitable part of nursing, but it’s not always mandatory. Nurses who work in most European Union countries cannot be legally required to work overtime. However, most do take on extra hours voluntarily.

2. Men in nursing
Men are still the minority in the nursing field in the United States, but they are rapidly becoming a force to be reckoned with. Economic Modeling Specialists, Inc. has gathered revealing data: Between 2003 and 2011, the percentage of male RNs increased from 9.5% to 12.2%.
Source: management.

3. Gender roles in Japan
One of the greatest challenges facing Japanese nurses is their own internalized ideas about gender roles. A 2010 Japan Academy of Nursing Science study found that women who believed they should be filling a traditional role in the home were at higher risk for career burnout.

4. Nurses in Ireland
Did you know that Ireland has one of the highest nurse-to-population ratios in the world? This small country has 15.2 nurses per 1,000 citizens (Haiti is at the other end of the scale with only 0.11 nurses per 1,000 people). However, Ireland is still facing a shortage and is busily recruiting nurses from other countries outside Europe. According to a paper published by researchers for the Division of Population Health Sciences, non-EU nurses accounted for 38 percent of newly registered nurses in Ireland from 2000—2009.

5. Nursing – not for the young (necessarily)
Nursing takes a lot of energy, but it’s not necessarily a “young person’s game” in most developed countries. The 2008 National Sample Survey of Registered Nurses showed that the median age for RNs in the U.S. is 46. According to the College of Nursing in Australia, the average age of nurses in that country is 43.7. It’s 47 in Canada, according to Health Canada. Stats are similar for most European nations.
Source: (appendix A-66),,

6. Consequences of overload
When nurses are overloaded, patients suffer the consequences. According to study data publicized by the International Council of Nurses, the ideal patient-to-nurse ratio is 4:1. When workloads increase to 8 patients per nurse, mortality rates rise more than 30%.

7. Nurses in Africa
Nurses in African countries that are hardest hit by the HIV epidemic are on the front lines of AIDS care and prevention. However, they are also among the casualties of this deadly disease. In many African countries, HIV status is non-reportable and lack of proper sterilization equipment and processes puts healthcare providers at greater than average risk for infection. Researchers from the WHO’s Human Resources for Health Stats believe that 38% of nurses in the public and mission sectors in Swaziland are HIV positive.

8. Need for nurses
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics expects a 26% increase in RN jobs between 2010 and 2020. This is much higher than the average projected growth for other professions. Still, a study published in the January 2012 issue of the American Journal of Medical Quality makes it clear that demand will continue to outstrip supply. The southern and western states are expected to be hardest hit by the nursing shortage.

9. Male nurses in Saudi Arabia
Despite nationwide nursing shortages, male nurses face a tough time getting a job in Saudi Arabia. According to the Ministry of Health, in 2007, an estimated 6,000 to 7,000 male nurses in the Kingdom were expected to be jobless. Part of the problem is that female nurses are permitted to treat both male and female patients, while male nurses are prohibited from providing direct care to women. So hospitals are only eager to hire women in nursing roles.

10. Multiple employment
A 2008 survey published by shows that many U.S. nurses answer to more than one boss. More than one in four full-time and part-time nurses hold at least two nursing jobs.

11. Nursing in India
According to a joint paper written by Sreelekha Nair and Madelaine Healey, the history of professional nursing in India started in the mid-1800s. Before that time, families provided care in the home. Throughout the last 150 years, caste issues have plagued the nursing profession in India. Nursing involves touching sick people and bodily fluids, activities that are associated with being “unclean.” So tasks have often been stratified to have nurses from lower castes handle all the dirty work.

12. Nursing in Latin America
According to The Online Journal of Issues in Nursing, in Latin America, registered nurses aren’t the most prevalent type of nurses on the job. In fact, only 12.2% of nurses employed in Uruguay have achieved RN certification. Mexico has the highest percentage at more than 65%. Throughout South America, nursing shortages are occurring as highly trained professionals immigrate to the U.S., Canada and Europe.

13. Nursing in China
Think nurses are overworked and underpaid in the U.S.? It’s much worse in some other countries. In China, 42% of nurses are not satisfied with their jobs, and it’s no wonder why. Data published by the National Institutes of Health shows that nursing in China is an occupation with a lower than average salary for that nation. A nurse with 15 years of experience can still only expect to make about $300 USD per month.

14. Nursing in Great Britain
Among developed countries, British nurses have some of the worst “I hate my job” blues. More than four out of 10 want to leave their current employment, according to results from the 2012 RN4CAST survey of EU and American nurses. Only Greek nurses had worse stats for burnout (which is not surprising given the recent recession).

15. Nurses in the Philippines
Where do nations turn to fill their nursing shortages? According to the World Health Organization, the Philippines is the number-one source for finding qualified nursing graduates. This country supplies 25% of all overseas nurses around the world. It provides more than 80% of foreign nurses for the U.S.—and Filipino nurses can now take the NCLEX in their home country.


Nice job: Nursing off the beaten path

Previous article

Word roots quiz II

Next article

You may also like