What is international healthcare staffing?


By Dillon Phillips

As the need for qualified healthcare professionals in the United States continues to grow, a shrinking talent pool is making it difficult for some healthcare facilities to meet their internal staffing requirements. 

Multiple causes are contributing to these nursing shortages, including COVID-induced early retirements, an aging workforce, low enrollment in nursing programs, and clinician burnout. As a result, many healthcare facilities and systems are exploring alternative staffing methods to help close the gap.  

One such strategy for helping to meet the growing demand for quality workers is international staffing, or foreign nurse recruitment. Read on to learn what international staffing is, the methodology behind it, and when it might be the right staffing solution for healthcare organizations that are struggling to fill open positions. 

International healthcare staffing explained 

International healthcare staffing is the practice of recruiting medical professionals from abroad to work in a different host country. Hiring these healthcare workers from foreign healthcare systems requires doctors, nurses, allied health professionals, and other personnel who are willing to relocate and allowed to live and work temporarily in their host countries. 

Organizations can facilitate foreign nurse recruiting for international healthcare staffing in several ways. Government-sponsored programs, recruitment agencies, and direct hiring by healthcare institutions are all viable options. Regardless of the recruiting method a provider chooses, the staffing process typically involves the following steps:  

Identifying Staffing Needs  

Healthcare facilities must first evaluate their current staffing requirements. There is often a lack of qualified professionals in the local workforce for certain specializations or positions that require additional expertise. Organizations need to identify these specific roles and specialties for international recruitment.  


Once a healthcare facility determines its specific staffing needs, it can employ multiple strategies to attract international candidates. This may include advertising job openings through recruitment agencies, online platforms, or professional networks. Some countries have specific programs and initiatives to facilitate international healthcare staffing, which can help streamline the recruitment process.  

Selection and Screening  

After the recruitment process is complete, healthcare institutions must carefully select candidates for review. They should consider an applicant’s qualifications, experience, language proficiency, and cultural compatibility. 

Organizations should also conduct background checks, interviews, and credential verifications. This will ensure the candidates possess the necessary skills and requirements for their healthcare roles. 

Immigration and Work Authorization  

Once an organization selects its candidates, it should then help them obtain the required immigration and work permits. This will allow them to work legally in the host country. This involves navigating the immigration processes, coordinating documentation, and ensuring compliance with the relevant laws and regulations. Healthcare facilities should consult their internal legal teams and local statutes to ensure regulatory compliance. 

Relocation and Integration  

International healthcare staff may require additional support and guidance during the relocation process. This assistance can vary on a case-by-case basis, but it typically includes housing arrangements, orientation programs, language courses, and cultural integration training. This helps the staff adapt to new environments and healthcare systems, which is a critical step in ensuring a smooth transition.  

Licensing and Credentialing  

Depending on the country, international healthcare professionals may need to earn licenses or certifications to practice in the host country. This typically involves evaluating their educational credentials and clinical experience and ensuring they’ve successfully completed any necessary examinations or assessments.  

Ongoing Support and Professional Development  

Healthcare facilities should provide ongoing support to international staff. This support should include professional development opportunities to help encourage continued growth, integration, and success within the organization. This may also include mentorship programs, cultural sensitivity training, language enhancement programs, and access to educational resources.  

An innovative staffing solution 

Overall, international healthcare staffing can be a valuable solution for healthcare facilities to address their staffing needs. It can also help facilities access and benefit from the expertise and diversity of global health professionals.  

In order to maximize the effectiveness of these programs, healthcare organizations shouldn’t implement them hastily. Instead, they should fully consider the pros and cons of international staffing and familiarize themselves with best practices. 

To learn more about positive—and potentially negative—aspects of international healthcare staffing, check out our second blog in this series, The Pros and Cons of International Healthcare Staffing.  

If your organization is interested in an international talent acquisition strategy, please contact Medical Solutions or reach out to your account manager directly to learn more. Through our relationship with WorldWide HealthStaff Solutions, we can help provide clients with an expanded recruitment pipeline of experienced healthcare staff from around the world.