An increasing number of German nurses migrate to other European countries in search of better working conditions.

But is the situation really
better in popular
destination countries?

„For how many patients am I responsible?“

10 :
„For how many patients am I responsible?“

Number of patients

A German nurse is taking care of ten patients on average – the largest number of all countries in our study. The other extreme is Norway, where the ratio goes down to 4:1. German nurses who feel overwhelmed by the number of patients they are caring for could indeed be better off in other European countries.

„Do I get praise and recognition for my work?“

„Do I get praise and recognition for my work?“


In Germany, 35% of the nurses feel recognized for their nursing work. This is again the poorest result compared to the other study countries. In Switzerland, this number rises to 61% - the highest share. Again we can conclude that those nurses who particularly value recognition from their superiors can find better conditions outside of Germany.

„Am I satisfied with my salary?“

„Am I satisfied with my salary?“


When asked how satisfied they are with their pay, German nurses score average results. 34% rate their salary as "rather satisfactory" or "satisfactory". That number is much lower than in Switzerland (66%), but higher than in Sweden or in Norway. In those countries, only about a fifth of all nurses say they are satisfied with their pay (20% and 22% respectively).

„Do I feel overwhelmed
with work?“

„Do I feel overwhelmed with work?“


Almost a third of all German nurses feel emotionally exhausted and are thus at risk of experiencing a burnout. This development is not only affecting them – it can also lead to poorer patient care. The figure is second to last among the examined countries – more nurses are affected only in England (42%). At the other end of the list, the share of emotionally exhausted nurses is fairly low in the Netherlands (10%).

„Am I generally satisfied with my work environment?“

„Am I generally satisfied with my work environment?“

Work environment

In Norway, 71% of the nurses rate their workplace as excellent or good, compared to only 48% in Germany, 44% in England and 43% in Sweden. Based on these subjective ratings, German nurses could apparently be better off in the Netherlands, Norway and in Switzerland.


In some European countries which are popular among migrating German nurses, local professionals assess their situation as considerably better than their German colleagues. On the other hand, hopes and expectations for better working conditions are not always met abroad. Therefore, it is crucial for interested emigrants to thoroughly research the country of their choice.

For more information on our research on inpatient care in Germany and Europe please refer to:

Or let us read your tweets about this #nursemigration
  • Maya (27)
    from Bulgaria

    ”In Bulgaria I earn only 300 EUR per month. Here in Germany I earn 1500 EUR. This way I can save money to send it home.”
  • Jessica (39)
    from South Africa

    ”The nursing personnel in Germany often feel no responsibility for their work. Reasons for that are probably low salary and lack of recognition.”
  • Jody (26)
    from New Zealand

    ”The great thing about Germany is that the communication between doctors and nurses is better than in New Zealand. Not so good is the continuous shortage of nursing personnel which causes stress and lack of time for patient care.”
  • Ayo (49)
    from Kenya

    ”It feels like in Germany everyone only cares about themselves and there is no real teamwork”
  • Xenia (35)
    worked in France for a few years

    ”I was disappointed that nothing has changed in Germany, when I came back.“
  • Josephine (24)
    completed her training in NZ

    ”The emphasis in Germany should be put on continuous learning and education. In New Zealand, the nursing certificate is to be renewed each year so that the knowledge and qualifications are always up to date.“
  • Anja (33)
    spent 5 years in Austria

    ”I returned to Germany because I did not feel comfortable in the hierarchical structures and in the poor working conditions in Austria.“
  • Nita (45)
    from South Africa

    ”In South Africa more attention is given to teamwork, competence area is wider and the whole profession is much more recognized.”
  • Jody (26)
    from New Zealand

    ”The salary in Germany is very low which in turn reflects on recognition and social status.”
  • Jody (26)
    from New Zealand

    ”It seems that Germany is 20 years behind in terms of recognition, status and further education and training system.”
  • Josephine (24)
    completed her training in New Zealand

    ”Coming back was very difficult because I had gotten used to working independently with much more responsibilities during my work in New Zealand. Besides, I earned a lot more money and my work was more renowned.”

  • Xenia (35)
    worked in France for a few years

    ”Further education lags behind particularly in Germany; frankly, the professional training is very good, however the promotion possibilities and career
    perspectives are still rather limited.“
  • Katharina (27)
    lived in Switzerland for a few years

    ”I returned to Germany for personal reasons. However I could not adjust to the bad working conditions so I have found a new job outside nursing.“
  • Matthias (36)
    spent 18 months in Austria

    ”I have suffered from the discrimination against immigrants, besides, the communication and cooperation between different professional groups in a hospital is very poor.“


Contact Information

Britta Zander & Reinhard Busse
Department of Health Care Management
Berlin University of Technology
Straße des 17. Juni 135
10623 Berlin, Germany

Phone: +49 – 30 – 314 28422
Fax: +49 – 30 – 314 28433

The content of this website is based on research findings from the international nursing study RN4Cast (Registered Nurse Forecasting)

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Creative Direction: Mark T. Drexler (
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