Applying a typology of health worker migration to non-EU migrant doctors in Ireland
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Abstract Background: Research on health worker migration in the Irish context has categorized migrant health workers by country or region of training (for example, non-EU nurses or doctors) or recruitment mechanism (for example, actively recruited nurses). This paper applies a new typology of health worker migrants – livelihood, career-oriented, backpacker, commuter, undocumented and returner migrants (European Observatory on Health Systems and Policies and WHO, vol. 2:129-152, 2014) – to the experiences of non-EU migrant doctors in Ireland and tests its utility for understanding health worker migration internationally. Methods: The paper draws on quantitative survey (N = 366) and qualitative interview (N = 37) data collected from non-EU migrant doctors in Ireland between 2011 and 2013. Results: Categorizing non-EU migrant doctors in Ireland according to the typology (European Observatory on Health Systems and Policies and WHO, vol. 2:129-152, 2014) offers insight into their differing motivations, particularly on arrival. Findings suggest that the career-oriented migrant is the most common type of doctor among non-EU migrant doctor respondents, accounting for 60 % (N = 220) of quantitative and 54 % (N = 20) of qualitative respondents. The authors propose a modification to the typology via the addition of two additional categories – the family migrant and the safety and security migrant. Conclusions: Employing a typology of health worker migration can facilitate a more comprehensive understanding of the migrant medical workforce, a necessary prerequisite for the development of useful policy tools (European Observatory on Health Systems and Policies and WHO, vol. 2:129-152, 2014). The findings indicate that there is some fluidity between categories, as health worker motivations change over time. This indicates the potential for policy levers to influence migrant health worker decision-making, if they are sufficiently “tuned in” to migrant health worker motivation. Keywords: Doctor migration, Migration typology, Medical workforce planning, Health workforce planning, Health human resources for health