Code for ethical international recruitment practices: The CGFNS alliance case study

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Projections indicate a global workforce shortage of approximately 4.3 million across the health professions. The need to ensure an adequate supply of health workers worldwide has created a context for the increased global migration of these professionals. The global trend in the migration of health professionals has given rise to the international recruitment industry to facilitate the passage of health workers from source to destination countries. This is particularly the case in the United States, where the majority of immigrant health professionals have come by way of the recruiting industry. This industry is largely unregulated in the United States as well as in many other countries, for which voluntary codes have been used as a means to increase transparency of the recruitment process, shape professional conduct, and mitigate harm to foreign-educated health workers. The CGFNS Alliance case study presented herein describes a multi-stakeholder effort in the United States to promote ethical recruitment practices. Such codes not only complement the WHO Global Code of Practice but are necessary to maximize the impact of these global standards on local settings. This case study offers both a historical perspective and a conceptual framework for examining the multiplicity of factors affecting the migration of human resources for health. The lessons learned provide critical insights into the factors pertaining to the relevancy and effectiveness of the WHO Code from the perspectives of both source and destination countries. This study provides a conceptual model for examining the usefulness of the WHO Code as well as how best to ensure its viability, sustainability, relevancy, and effectiveness in the global environment. This case study concludes with recommendations for evolving business models that need to be in place to strengthen the effectiveness of the WHO Code in the marketplace and to ensure its impact on the international recruitment industry in advancing ethical practices. These recommendations include using effective screening mechanisms to determine health professionals' readiness for migration as well as implementing certification processes to raise the practice standards for those directly involved in recruiting skilled workers and managing the migration flow.




Shaffer, F. A., Bakhshi, M., Dutka, J. T., & Phillips, J. (2016). Code for ethical international recruitment practices: The CGFNS alliance case study. Human Resources for Health, 14.

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