RESYST research on Human Resources for Health

31 October 2017

Tackling the global health worker shortfall is an important step towards universal health coverage and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Key stakeholders grappling with this issue and working on strengthening the health workforce will gather in Dublin, Ireland, 13–17 November 2017, for the Fourth Global Forum on Human Resources for Health. This year’s theme is: “Building the health workforce of the future”.

RESYST researcher, Dr Prudence Ditlopo, from the Centre for Health Policy at the University of the Witwatersrand, will present a poster at the Forum on the employment decisions of professional nurses in South Africa. It aims to better understand why nurses move out of hospitals to clinics and other types of facilities (e.g. blood services, prison health services), and from the public to the private sector.  The work is part of a longitudinal study that has been monitoring a cohort of nurses since they graduated in Gauteng and North West Provinces in 2008. 

The research findings could lead to improved nursing workforce planning and strategy as they reveal that:

  • Married female nurses and those with childcare responsibilities based their job location decisions mainly on flexibility of working hours.
  • Some nurses decided to move from hospitals to clinics because of work-environment factors such as frustration with unfavourable ward rotations or for greater professional autonomy.
  • People deliberately moved between different private sector facilities to negotiate higher salaries.
  • Decisions to remain in the public sector were influenced by job security, employment benefits and sector loyalty.

You can learn more about the cohort study in the new RESYST research video. The video summarises findings from the research investigating the dynamics of health worker movement in South Africa, and features first-hand experience interviews with nurses who participated in the study as well as reflections from researchers and key decision makers. 

Further resources

RESYST Working Paper 10: A Longitudinal Study of the Job Choices of a Cohort of South African Nurses to inform Human Resource Policy Interventions

Policy Brief: Rural or urban: the role of nurses' dedication towards patients in their choice of job

Key finding sheet: How do we train, support and retain resilient nurses in underserved areas?

Infographic: Tracking nurses job choices in South Africa

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