IFGH 2012: An Exploration of the Hospital and Ward Factors Associated with High Levels of Overseas-Trained Nurses in General Hospitals in Ireland: Using Irish RN4CAST Study Results

January 31, 2012

Authors:Matthews A., Scott PA., Lehwaldt D., Kirwan M., Morris R., Staines A.

Author Affiliations: School of Nursing & Human Sciences, Dublin City University

Option 1– Scientific / Empirical Research Findings Presented as – Oral Presentation


To explore hospital factors that account for the variation in rates of non-EU qualified nurses in general hospitals in Ireland. Working hypotheses were that: large, teaching, urban hospitals would have higher levels of non-EU qualified nurses, given their higher turnover rates; hospitals with more negative work environments would have higher levels of non-EU qualified nurses as they would have relied more heavily on active overseas recruitment.


Secondary analysis of data gathered during the FP7 RN4CAST project, was carried out. Data were collected in 30 acute general hospitals in Ireland in 2009/10, focusing on 112 medical and surgical wards. Nurses (n=1,406) completed a survey about their working environment and their own characteristics. An organisational profile was completed for all hospitals.


Organisational data on nurses with non-EU qualifications were only provided for 12 of the 30 hospitals and showed that up to half of the nurses employed in some large teaching hospitals have non-EU qualifications. However no characteristics such as size, voluntary/HSE status, geographical region were clearly associated with higher levels of non-EU qualified nurses. Also, hospital level nurse-reported factors such as high burnout level and a negative practice environment were not associated with higher hospital levels of non-EU qualified nurses.


The data gathered in 2009/10 do not tell the story of the trends across time of overseas trained nurses who were actively recruited and subsequently left the hospital before data collection. Therefore it is plausible to suggest that hospitals with better work environments have retained non-EU qualified nurses to a greater extent. Retaining nurses who were actively recruited to Ireland is even more important in the current health service context. There was limited organisational-level data available for many hospitals, though this was supplemented by nurse-reported survey data on place of qualification for this analysis.



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