Critical factors favoring outward physician migration from an affluent gulf country

Satish Chandrasekhar Nair, Karthyayani Priya Satish, Halah Ibrahim

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Background: Physician retention is essential to creating a strong and stable healthcare system worldwide. The density of physicians and nurses significantly impacts important population health outcomes. Globalization has enabled the mobility of physicians, but the recruitment and retention of quality physicians have not been without challenges. The purpose of this study was to identify the outward migration factors affecting expatriate physicians who have resided and worked in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) for at least 5 years, as compared with newly emigrated physicians. This physician population has likely adapted to the local environment and actively contributed to the advancement of medical care in the country; their attrition is a significant loss to the UAE healthcare system. Methods and Statistical Analysis: A 23-point validated survey questionnaire, consisting of four domains, was electronically administered to the participants (n = 374), and responses were statistically analyzed, using descriptive statistics and the Chi-square test. Results: Our results indicate that all physicians considered a ten-year visa to be factor contributing to retention, more so for the recent physician migrants to the UAE. Professional development opportunities, career-specific plans and income promoted only short-term retention of physicians in the UAE. Non-financial factors related to living and working conditions prevented migration of physicians who lived in the country for more than five years. Conclusion: Lifestyle-related factors are an important consideration in long-term retention of physicians in the UAE. Initiatives to promote career advancement and improve job satisfaction for mid-and late-career clinicians are necessary to set the foundation for a robust physician retention policy and to enhance the quality of the healthcare system. Long-term visas provide an additional factor for retention.

Original languageBritish English
Pages (from-to)3721-3727
Number of pages7
JournalRisk Management and Healthcare Policy
StatePublished - 2021


  • Globalization
  • Health systems reform
  • Healthcare workforce
  • Manpower planning
  • Middle east
  • Physician migration
  • Retention policies


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