The role of private nurse training institutions

What is the extent and impact of health worker training by private institutions?


This research aimed to better understand the role of private nurse training institutions in Kenya and Thailand.

In all of these countries there has been a rapid proliferation of private training institutions to increase the supply of nurses. Private institutions have notable differences with conventional public training institutions including in their ownership and governance, organisational goals and culture, and sources of finance. These differences also determine nursing graduates’ employment choices and their likelihood of working in public or private facilities.

Infographic: can the private sector help overcome nursing shortages?

Key findings

A rapid expansion of private training institutions has the potential to contribute positively to local and national health systems by increasing the supply of nurses; however, research has found that privately trained nurses are more likely to work in the private health sector and in urban areas than publicly trained nurses, hence they are unlikely to reduce shortages in rural/underserved areas.

Public sector institutions are best placed to respond to a country’s health workforce requirements in terms of: aligning student intake and training programmes with changing population needs, maintaining healthcare standards, setting up training schools in rural areas and collaborating with the public healthcare system to place trainees/graduates in underserved facilities.

In Kenya and India, a large proportion of (public and private) nursing graduates are unable to find relevant employment due insufficient government funding for health workers. This disjuncture between production and employment is one explanation for the high levels of nurse migration in these countries (20% in Kenya, and 25% of privately trained graduates in India).