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The Significant Role and Impact of Internationally Educated Nurses in Delivering and Sustaining Heal

Written by Jose Arnold Tariga, PhD, MSN, MN, RN, CPHQ, CNE, NPD-BC | SIENNA Board of Director

Internationally educated nurses (IENs) play a critical role in delivering and sustaining healthcare for all, especially in times of healthcare workforce shortages. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the global shortage of nurses is expected to reach 9 million by 2030, with a projected shortfall of 5.9 million nurses in low- and middle-income countries alone. The shortage of nurses is a significant challenge in delivering universal healthcare, and IENs are increasingly being recognized as a vital solution to this problem.

Recent literature shows that IENs contribute significantly to the delivery and sustainability of healthcare in several ways. Firstly, IENs fill critical gaps in the nursing workforce, especially in countries experiencing shortages of nurses. A study conducted in the United States found that IENs play a vital role in filling the shortage gap, particularly in rural areas where nurses are scarce (Buchan et al., 2020). Similarly, a study conducted in the United Kingdom found that IENs make a significant contribution to the delivery of healthcare services in the National Health Service (NHS) (Buchan & Seccombe, 2019). By filling the shortage gap, IENs increase access to healthcare services for underserved populations, which is crucial to achieving universal healthcare.

Secondly, IENs bring diversity and cultural competence to the nursing workforce, which is essential in providing patient-centered care to diverse populations. The growing diversity of patient populations requires a nursing workforce that can understand and respond to the cultural and linguistic needs of patients. IENs bring diverse experiences and cultural backgrounds that enhance the provision of culturally competent care (Williams et al., 2018). A study conducted in Canada found that IENs bring unique knowledge and skills that enhance the delivery of patient-centered care, especially in multicultural settings (Gagnon et al., 2020).

Lastly, IENs play a critical role in addressing global health challenges, such as infectious diseases, maternal and child health, and non-communicable diseases. A study conducted in Africa found that IENs contribute to improving maternal and child health outcomes through the provision of skilled care during pregnancy and childbirth (Mumtaz et al., 2019). Similarly, IENs have been instrumental in the prevention and management of infectious diseases, such as HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, and Ebola, particularly in low- and middle-income countries (Janvier et al., 2020).

The importance of IENs in delivering and maintaining health for all cannot be overstated. IENs cover essential gaps in the nursing workforce, increase diversity and cultural competence, and play an important role in tackling global health concerns. Countries must recognize the contributions of IENs to healthcare delivery and adopt policies and strategies to encourage their inclusion into the nursing workforce.

In this regard, SIENNA would like to invite you to join us and our renowned keynote speakers as we discuss this important and timely topic during our global virtual launch on May 13, 2023 at 10am-12pm (EST). Pre-register by signing up at

We look forward to seeing you!


Buchan, J., & Seccombe, I. (2019). The international mobility of nurses and doctors: Trends and policy implications. The Commonwealth Fund.

Buchan, J., & Aiken, L. H. (2020). Solving nursing shortages: A common priority. Journal of nursing management, 28(2), 275-277.

Gagnon, M. P., Ngangue, P., Payne-Gagné, J., & Desmartis, M. (2020). Rethinking the role of internationally educated nurses: From filling the gap to enhancing quality in nursing practice. Journal of advanced nursing, 76(5), 1057-1064.

Janvier, A., Prat, S. E., Yahyaoui Azami, H., & Diabaté, S. (2020). The contribution of internationally educated nurses to the Ebola outbreak response in West Africa: a scoping review. Globalization and Health, 16(1), 1-12.

Mumtaz, Z., Salway, S., & Bhatti, A. (2019). The role of international nurse recruitment in improving maternal and child health outcomes: a qualitative study of Tanzanian nurses’ experiences. Human Resources for Health, 17(1), 1-10.

Williams, M. V., Davis, T., Parker, R. M., & Weiss, B. D. (2018). The role of health literacy in patient-centered care. Journal of general internal medicine, 33(3), 298-303.

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