Indian Nurses Migrate to English-Speaking Countries for Better Pay


Indian nurses are leaving their homeland for countries like the UK, Germany, and Saudi Arabia, but are culture and language barriers hurting their professional chances?

It stands to reason that nurses from India might migrate: India has an abundance of nurses whereas other countries have a shortage. But filling that shortage is not what motivates the Indian nurses increasingly moving abroad.

The primary reason they give for making the transition is desire for higher salaries; they want to make money to arrange for their dowries and pay off their student loans. Some reports indicate that up to a fifth of the nurses in India may be relocating and mostly because salaries are simply too low.

Where Are They Going?

Nurses from India move to a wide variety of other nations where nurses’ salaries are larger. For the most part, these regions welcome the nursing professionals with open arms. Germany for instance has launched its own pilot program designed to help the Indian nurses with transitioning into the German medical care system.

Just this month, Saudi Arabia weighed in and recruited almost 2000 nurses form India. Actively pursuing trained nurses, Saudi Arabia operates with a serious deficit of female nurses in particular. They hired Indian nurses on renewable one year contracts to begin work in as little as one month, once they complete the necessary recruitment procedures. Saudia Arabia hopes to rectify their nurse shortage by recruiting these professionals with bachelor’s and master’s degrees. 

The UK has also been able to recruit Indian nurses, but this relocation process has presented some prominent barriers that must be overcome.

Language Barriers Abound

The nurses coming from India are highly trained and equipped to do their medical duty once they arrive in new host nations. Their nursing skills are on par with native nurses, including those in the UK. However, only about 10% of the incoming Indian nurses can meet the UK job’s language requirements.

Most of the time, applications are enough to verify whether a nurse’s English-speaking abilities are adequate. Of late, many times recruiters actually make phone calls to nursing prospects to probe for themselves the nurse’s level of English proficiency. It’s increasingly important for Indian nurses to gain some fluency in English if they hope to thrive professionally in the UK, but the language landscape of India may present some learning obstacles.

Translating to English from Indian Languages

The Indian constitution officially recognizes 18 different languages–on top of which, throughout the country, there are hundreds of additional local languages and dialects that have not been officially recognized.

In all this diversity, English is not spoken by very many Indians. More than four million people in India speak Hindi, and it can be difficult to translate Hindi words to English. Hindi makes use of words from ancient languages like Sanskrit and Persian, also heavily influenced by Arabic. In many cases just one English word can share meaning with several different words in Hindi, which makes it very difficult to determine which word to use when trying to translate from one language to another.

How Indian Nurses Can Penetrate the Desirable UK Market

The difficulty reorienting to the English language from Hindi is a common barrier that Indian nurses face in English-speaking countries like the UK — a necessary one to overcome if they want to get the compensation these nations offer, but hardly insurmountable.

When only 10% of Indian nurses on average are making the language cut in the UK, it’s clear that Indian nurses should prioritize improving their English skills to guarantee their ability to enter the rewarding professional environment. Since they seek the highest possible salaries, they’ll doubly appreciate adding the valuable skill to their resumes.

Whether nurses decide to study before they make the move or once they are on-site in the English speaking country, they should develop an English language learning strategy, together with recruiters if there is already an arrangement in place. Especially when meeting these language learning needs comes with professional payoffs, nurses should consider investing the time and effort in a relationship with a qualified language tutor who covers both conversational and business/medical terminology. For these kinds of focused English lessons in any location, check out the offerings from Language Trainers.