Factors Influencing Guyanese Health Worker Migration to Canada

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Helena Bleeker


Health care worker, Guyana, West Indies, human migration, brain drain, economic development


Background: For years, Canada has benefited from the immigration of health care workers from Caribbean nations, which may have resulted in a service deficit in the source country; this is known as brain drain. In addition to health care service deficits, economical development in source countries such as Guyana may be stagnated by the loss of citizens with tertiary education.
Objectives: We sought to identify experiences, attitudes, and push and pull factors pertaining to Guyanese health care workers who migrated to and studied and/or worked in Canada.
Methods: A purposeful sample of 7 Guyanese health care worker expatriates now living in Canada was drawn from private networks. In-person and phone interviews were conducted with respondents. We applied content analysis to identify themes relating to respondents' motivations and experiences in migrating. Two researchers completed qualitative data analysis and discrepancies were resolved by consensus.
Results: Push and pull themes identified include the existence of a champion who encouraged migration and/or retention, family connections, perceived responsibilities to country left behind, remuneration, opportunities for self and children, and most commonly opportunities for further education and career satisfaction based on merit.
Conclusion: The desire of migrants to maintain constructive contact with the source country might be leveraged to empower capacity-building enterprises.