Skip to main content

Mobility of Health Professionals

Article Category

Article available in the folowing languages:

Mobility of healthcare workers

A global research project examined the international mobility of health workers and investigated its impact on national health systems.


EU funding of the collaborative project MOHPROF (Mobility of health professionals) helped study and analyse trends of mobility of health professionals, in the EU in particular. Micro- and macro-level studies included comparable methodological approaches for study in sending and receiving countries as well. The approach was mainly qualitative, analysing quantities and qualities of migration flows in 25 countries worldwide. Key stakeholders representing national healthcare systems (at macro level) provided existing quantitative and qualitative data and statistics. Research on the micro level then examined national peculiarities emerging from the macro phase. The project generated a wealth of information on the migration of health workers within, to and from the EU. Researchers found that the EU is losing health workers to countries such as Australia, Canada and the United States, and that migration within the EU increased more than expected after 2007. Data also revealed a noteworthy inflow of health professionals to the EU-15 from non-EU-27 countries. It was also determined that health qualifications are not automatically recognised, with processes varying across the EU. This is despite the EU Directive on the recognition of professional qualifications, which foresees that harmonisation of this process will enable the free movement of EU-trained doctors, dentists, nurses, midwifes and pharmacists. The Directive is currently under review. Project partners also found that health workers follow different pathways compared to general labour mobility; receiving countries are faced with a major challenge, and need to prepare for replacement of an ageing health workforce. MOHPROF made recommendations on human resource policies in Europe and certain third countries on the basis of empirical research and data. These focused on the need for realising self-sustainable health systems, strategies aimed at reducing unequal distribution of the international health workforce, and managing the rural/remote urban split. To meet changing demands in the health sector – for health services workers and recipients alike – project results point to a pressing need for general strategic planning at EU and country levels, as well as a rethinking of health and care systems. The information emerging from MOHPROF can help inform changes to be made in this direction.


Mobility, healthcare workers, health systems, health professionals, human resource policies

Discover other articles in the same domain of application