The study of “Experiences and the Process to Pursue International employment of Thai Nurses” aimed to explore 1) the characteristics of Thai nurses working abroad, 2) the process to pursue abroad employment, 3) The experiences of Thai nurses working abroad, and 4) recruitment process for Thai nurses to work abroad by the recruiters. Mix methods of quantitative and qualitative approaches had been used. Data collection in nine months period included 14 cases of in-depth interviews with abroad experienced nurses, three focus group discussions with total of 14 participants, and two in-depth interviews with the nurses who are interested in working abroad, and five cases of recruiters. Quantitative data collected by online questionnaire with 63 nurses who are currently working abroad. Data were analyzed using descriptive statistics and content analysis. The results revealed that:
1. The characteristics of nurses working abroad include: The majority of participants aged between 41-60 years, graduated from College of Nursing/ Faculty of Nursing of the Universities under the auspice of Office of The Higher Education Commission. Prior to work abroad, the majority of them worked in Bangkok and in health facilities of the Thai Red Cross Society, private sector, and Ministry of Public Health, half of them having 1-5 years of working experiences, having specialty in medical nursing, critical care and emergency care nursing, spending an average of 22.3 months for preparation to go abroad. The United States of America was the most favorable country.
The majority have been working as registered nurses in the private health care facilities. The top three reasons to go abroad were: to obtain new experiences, better salary, and self development/ continuing education. The majority of them did self application. Only 8 percent of the participants utilized paid recruitment services. Authorized visa type obtained for going abroad included employment, tourist, and student visa.
2. The process to pursue abroad employment of Thai nurses: two-third of nurses did self-application using a variety of method including self-searching information, inquiries from friends or acquainted persons, self-preparation for language, or through the training at a language center. The time spent for language preparation and application process for nursing license examination was approximately 1-2 years. The most difficult process of job application was passing the language and license examination. Some nurses had to work in the lower job position than their educational qualification. The total cost for the entire process was at least two hundred thousand baht. Only few nurses reported to the Department of Employment before leaving for working abroad. The process to pursue abroad employment was, therefore, more laborious than ever.
3. The majority of nurses experienced fair treatment from their employers: they obtained reasonable payment. The orientation and mentoring system were offered as well as the opportunity for self-development and further education. The working system was nursing standard and patient safety focused, and working schedule was flexible. Language proficiency was the most significant barrier and problematic encountered by Thai nurses. However, only few nurses reported the experiences of racial discrimination, dignity threatening, and verbal abuse.
4. The recruitment process of the recruiters depicted the unclear feature of business and did not legally proclaim as a formal registered recruitment company to the Ministry of Labor. The services included providing positive information through brochure and website to entice the interested nurses. Generally, the recruiter worked with sub- contractor to help nurses for migration to other countries and provided help as needed.
The results of this study can be used as baseline information for planning retention strategies, setting better employment policy to adjust the reasonable and fair payment, promoting positive/safe working environment and improving work schedule to be more flexible working hours and shift. Efforts should be made on the formulating of policy and strategy to control the quality and reliability of the recruitment services/business in order to ensure the observance to the WHO Global Code of Practice on the International Recruitment of Health Personnel.
Key words: International recruited nurses, Thai nurse experiences of international employment, process to pursue international employment, Thai nurse