The healthcare market comprises one fourth of the global economy. Healthcare workers now make up the largest workforce in the world. While nurses are already more than half of this global workforce, there still are not enough nurses to support the growing healthcare sector of which they are the backbone.
Today, eight of the world’s twelve largest economies have a serious nurse shortage; Japan and the US have only about a third of the nurses they need, Russia has just half, and the UK has less than a fifth.
Estimates from the World Health Organization show the needs-based shortage of health-care workers globally is expected to top 17.4 million in 2018, of which more than 9 million are nurses and midwives. The largest needs-based shortages are in parts of Southeast Asia and Africa. If current trends continue, the shortage of health-care workers is projected to exceed 14 million in 20301.
As a result of this global shortage, over 20% of all nurses globally, and upwards of 85% of nurses in certain countries, travel outside of their native country to work. For example, 12,000 nurses from the Philippines went overseas in 2010 and of that number, 70% went to Saudi Arabia. Staffing Industry Analysts told Reuters that healthcare organizations paid $4.8 billion for travel nurses in 2017.