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Migrant Nurses’ Wish List

Migrant Nurses’ Wish List for the International Year of the Nurse and Midwife

As we enter 2020, the International Year of the Nurse and Midwife, I would like to highlight my wish list as migrant nurses/internationally qualified nurses (IQN) continue to contribute services to the New Zealand healthcare system.

IQNs in New Zealand

Approximately 3 out of 10 (28.7% of 57,833) New Zealand nurses qualified overseas. In 2019 alone, 2,294 IQNs were added to the New Zealand register of nurses. The proportion of IQNs grow every year with the majority coming from the Philippines, India and the UK. As well as nursing skills, IQNs bring lifeways that match the cultural diversity of patients that they care for.

The International Year of the Nurse and Nursing Now

The World Health Organisation chose 2020 as the International Year of the Nurse. 2020 is also the 200th birth anniversary of Florence Nightingale, and the year of the International Council of Nurses’ Nursing Now movement campaign to raise the status and profile of nursing through a growing network of nurses who influence global and national policy.

Better working conditions for better care

One of the key messages of the WHO is to strengthen nursing and midwifery and to ensure that they can work to their full potential. Locally, I wish this would translate to safer nurse-patient ratios in all work settings, better pay and pay equity, equal professional development opportunities for IQNs, inclusion, and better communication and respect within and between diverse healthcare teams. All these contribute to job satisfaction which helps workforce retention.


The WHO also calls for boosting nursing and midwifery leadership and influence to improve health services. Locally, I wish that nurses and midwives, including IQNs, be properly valued and represented in health leadership roles where they too can guide health policy and investment. Accordingly, nurses and midwives can be the answer to so many health problems, but there is a need to overcome professional and socio-cultural barriers. IQNs are also capable to lead and contribute in their communities, and this would help strengthen their commitment to the people that they serve.

Government support

Another key message of the WHO is for governments to have the political will to invest in the improvement of nursing and midwifery. Locally, I wish the government would invest more in nursing education and provide scholarships that IQNs could also access, in nurse-led and midwife-led services and appreciate that nurses and midwives, too, are central in primary health care.

Celebrations in New Zealand

The Ministry of Health's Chief Nursing Officer Margareth Broodkoorn in a media release last year said that it is important to use the celebrations to promote nursing as a great career opportunity and to emphasise the value of nurses. I wish this also means valuing the care that IQNs provide to the people of New Zealand. Global indicators show a need for 9 million more nurses and midwives in 2030. This means that there will be a need for more than 2,000 nurses every day across the world over the next decade. With this scenario, it is vital that IQNs remain, settle and continue to contribute their services to the New Zealand healthcare system.


Nursing Council of New Zealand (2019). 2019 Annual report for the year Ended 31 March. Wellington: Nursing Council of New Zealand.

World Health Organisation (2019). WHO campaigns, Year of the nurse and the midwife. Retrieved from

International Council of Nurses (2019). 2020 International year of the nurse and midwife: a catalyst for a brighter future for health around the globe. Retrieved from

Ministry of Health (2019). Nurses in New Zealand set to celebrate 2020 International Year of the Nurse. Retrieved from

About the author:

MONINA HERNANDEZ, MNurs (Hons), PGDip HSc, PGCert TTeach, BSN, RN, RM is nurse-midwife from the Philippines who practices as a nurse in New Zealand. She is president of the Filipino Nurses Association of New Zealand, Inc. and a lecturer at Massey University.

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