BEIRUT: Lebanon has been losing nurses to higher-paying countries, paralleling a longtime trend of talented young Lebanese professionals leaving for better wages, less political volatility, and higher quality of life.
AUB and the Order of Nurses noted in a recently released study this also mirrors a global trend of migration of nurses from developing towards developed nations.
According to the school, intending to increase understanding on this key economic topic, a team from the American University of Beirut (AUB) led by Dr. Mohamad Alameddine, Associate Professor at the Health Management and Policy Department in the Faculty of Health Sciences, in partnership with the Lebanese Order of Nurses, conducted the study which surveyed 153 Lebanese nurses living abroad, all of them employed and working on full-time basis.
“The findings of the study pave the way for setting evidence-based and targeted policies and intervention that will help policymakers both retain qualified Lebanese nurses and attract those living abroad to their homeland,” Dr. Alameddine said.
The study investigated the causes of the migration of Lebanese nurses and incentives that would attract them back to their home country. Looking at nurses working in the Gulf region (57%) and their peers who work in other areas around the globe, the study revealed that the top three reasons for leaving Lebanon were unsatisfactory salary/benefits (72.8%), better work opportunities in other countries (60.3%), and lack of professional development/career advancement (55.9%).
Survey respondents were highly educated with an experienced average exceeding 14 years. Most importantly, the study found that more than half of the study sample (58.8%) indicated they are likely to return to Lebanon to practice nursing.
The president of the Order of Nurses, Dr. Myrna Doumit, added, “this study as a major contributor to raising the public awareness on such an important issue, especially that the World Health Organization (WHO) declared that by 2030 the world would need 9 million additional nurses and midwives. Additionally, WHO declared the year 2020 as the International Year of the Nurse,” added Dr. Doumit.
“The study findings are timely and important and will guide efforts to attract Lebanese nurses living abroad and retain currently practicing ones. This will enhance the quality of the health care and improve patient outcomes and satisfaction” said the president of the Lebanese Order of Nurses.
“We have an opportunity for a brain drain reversal. The majority of experienced Lebanese nurses would like to return to practice in Lebanon. The onus is on the policy and decision-makers to build them the golden bridge that would meet their minimum requirements and will attract them back to Lebanon. Offering incentives that would attract emigrant nurses back to Lebanon will allow a swift reintegration into the nursing workforce and will need a fraction of the cost of training new nurses,” said Dr. Alameddine, who added that “despite Lebanon's political instability, only 35% of nurses indicated that this was the major reason for their emigration.”
“The study gave hopes of regaining back our experienced nurses if the right actions are taken by the healthcare authorities to encourage them to return,” added the co-author of this study, Associate Professor of Nursing at AUB and the previous President of the Lebanese Order of Nurses, Dr. Nuhad Dumit.
According to Information International, a leading research and consultancy firm in Beirut, 61,924 Lebanese sought work abroad between January and November 2019, up from 41,766 during the same period in 2018.
Mohamed Shams El-Din, a researcher at the firm, said that "82 percent of them were less than 40 years old."
The study was published in the International Journal of Nursing Studies, and was co-authored by Mrs. Richa, in addition to Dr. Samer A. Kharroubi from AUB’s Faculty of Arts and Sciences (FAS), Dr. Nuhad Dumit from AUB’s Hariri School of Nursing, Sara Kassas (Health Management and Policy Department - FHS) and Marwa Diab-El-Harake (Department of Nutrition and Food Sciences - FAFS).
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