Many Ukrainian nurses go to work abroad: what to do?

Mihail Radutsky
3 min readAug 14, 2020

One of the significant problems of the medical industry of Ukraine is the outflow of employees. Our medical workers go to work in Eastern Europe where they are offered a much higher salary. Most of them are are nurses. Today, we will talk about the reasons for labor migration and how Ukraine can prevent it.

Official statistics is shocking. In 2018, 313.4 thousand nurses worked in Ukraine, in 2019–296 thousand, and according to operational data for the first half of 2020 — only 266 thousand remained. We lost almost 50,000 nurses in a year and a half! And their deficit in Ukraine’s health care system continues to grow.

All over the world, the nursing profession is prestigious and respected. It is the nurse who spends the most time with patients, and the recovery process depends on these people. What is happening in Ukraine? Why do Ukrainian nurses go to work abroad?

I see three main reasons. The first is that the older generation is retiring. Secondly, there is no influx of young people into the profession. Third, middle-aged nurses go abroad to work.

Neighboring countries have government programs on emigration and training of Ukrainian nurses. The Czech Republic recruits more than 5,000 nurses from abroad every year, offering them free housing and food discounts. Ukrainian nurses are paid (even if they have not yet learned the Czech language) a minimum salary of 625 euros per month.The average salary of nurses in Ukraine in 2019 was 143 euros per month, and this year — about 156 euros. For comparison, the official minimum wage in Ukraine is now 147.5 euros, the average — 362 euros.

From September 1, it is planned to increase the salaries of medical workers in state medical institutions. On average, doctors will receive 110 euros more, nurses — 78 euros, junior medical staff — 40 euros. Thus, the monthly salary of a nurse in autumn should be around 234 euros.

Raising the salaries is an extremely important and necessary step. But it should be understood that in private medical institutions of Ukraine, nurses are now offered 250–312 euros per month. Thus, I think the amount of 312 euros should be a guideline that needs to be reached gradually.

If the state does not change the approaches to the formation of the personnel reserve of this profession, then in a few years, in our hospitals, there will be no one to put patients on a drip. We may lose a whole generation of medium-grade medical personnel.

However, it is important to understand that it is not enough to just raise the salaries to market levels to stop the outflow of doctors from the country. It is still easier for graduates of medical schools to go to work abroad and immediately receive a normal income than to stay in Ukraine, receive a meager salary as a beginner while gaining experience and qualifications. Today, it is also necessary to think about the incentives that will encourage young people to go to work in Ukrainian medical institutions, so there is a need to develop appropriate government programs.The Committee on Public Health, which I am the head of, is ready to become a platform for discussion on solving the problem of outflow of medical personnel.

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Mihail Radutsky

Head of the Committee on Public Health, Medical Assistance and Medical Insurance, People’s Deputy of Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine of the 9th convocation