The situation in Malaysia

Malaysia kick-started the “Malaysia – My Second Home” program in 2001. This program motivates foreign citizens older than 50 years of age to move to Malaysia following their retirement. Part of the carrot dangled by Malaysia is the emphasis that the country provides modern healthcare and highly qualified medical staff. Considering the existence of such programs in Malaysia, nurses should have plenty of opportunities to practice their profession.

However, the trend suggests the precise opposite – Malaysian nurses have extensively migrated to countries like the USA, Saudi Arabia, Australia, etc. over the past few years. Consequently, Malaysia has shifted from being an “exporting country” of nurses to becoming an “importing country” of nurses instead.

They say in order to live a comfortable life in Malaysia, one should be earning at least RM 5,000. According to a salary survey conducted however, Malaysian nurses’ salary average is RM2, 612 or 666.59 USD per month. If you are a nurse in Malaysia, the rising costs of living here might be a big push factor for you to search for greener pastures elsewhere.

As part of their strategy to retain local nurses, some private hospitals allow for their nurses to work abroad for a few years on the condition that they return to the same hospital in Malaysia to work afterwards (1).

The situation in Singapore

The average monthly salary in Singapore hovers around $3,000 (2) , but differs widely between different avenues of nursing, different levels of education, and different positions. One could argue that this is considerably better than the situation in Malaysia, but those working in Singapore usually have a differing view.

Given that the average monthly wages in Singapore in 2016 goes above $5000 (3), and that rising costs of living have become a prime concern for citizens according to Mediacorp survey in 2015 (4) , it is no wonder that nurses in Singapore feel that the situation here is not all roses and sunshine, especially those on the lower end of the salary scale.

Nursing salaries around the world

As such, there is a tendency for many nurses in both Singapore and Malaysia to look towards other countries for greener pastures, especially in terms of salary. If you are of these, do have a look at the salary range and compensations offered around the world, which hopefully will aid in your decision-making.

1. UAE / Saudi Arabia

In 2013, The Star published an article saying that there were about 10,000 Malaysian-trained nurses in the UAE and Saudi Arabia. Monthly salaries of more than USD 3,000 (RM 12, 314/SGD 4,108) are offered, excluding accommodation and transportation. With UAE and Saudia Arabia being Islamic countries, Muslim nurses also need not worry about their freedom to practice their religion when moving here (5).

2. Australia

If you are proficient in English, moving to Aussie would not be much of a problem. Being relatively still close to home, Australia opens its doors to foreign talents to tackle the nursing shortage within their country. With a monthly average salary of AUD $4,426 (RM 13,499/SGD 4,504), Aussie is definitely an attractive destination for nurses.

3. United States

The U.S. is expecting to experience an intense shortage of nurses in the near future. In 2000, the shortage of registered nurses was estimated at around 6 per cent, or 110,000. However, the current projections show that the shortage will grow exponentially, leading to a shortage of around 29 per cent by 2020. Nurses can expect to get an average monthly salary USD 5,660 (RM 23,064/SGD 7,697) in the U.S. The opportunities here are vast, and definitely available, so perhaps the American dream may not be that far away for you. (6)

4. United Kingdom

With a monthly average salary of GBP 2,092 (RM 11,181/SGD 3,731, the UK is one of the biggest “importers” of nurses in the world. The UK is also experiencing a shortage of nurses. Factors driving the growth in demand for nurses include demographic changes such as population growth, an ageing population, and medical advances that have made the roles of nurses evolve further. (7)

5. France

According to WHO, France provides the best overall healthcare among 191 member states. That inevitably means a presence of competent healthcare professionals and satisfied patients. Averaging € 1,820 (RM 8,149/SGD 2719) per month , France is a place where your gastronomic thirst will be quenched and where your love for art and architecture will also be revived. Home to one of the most romantic cities in the world, France is definitely high up on the cards for nurses to consider.

6. Canada

Do you love huge open landscapes and wildlife? Then Canada might be worth considering. With one of the best publicly funded healthcare systems in the world, and a monthly average salary of CAD 3,833 (RM 11,818/SGD 3,943) Canada offers a myriad of opportunities for healthcare professionals, including nurses to work and live here. The recent changes in immigration law has made it easier for nurses to migrate to Canada without necessarily having a job offer at hand. That means a qualified nurse can just go there as a tourist, and look for a job thereafter. (8)

7. Norway

Known to be the one of the most beautiful countries in the world, Norway is also reported to have the world’s highest expenditure per head when it comes to healthcare. This is probably part of the reason why their nurses are well-paid as well with a monthly average salary of $2,229 USD (RM 9,149/SGD 3,031).

8. Germany

Though one of their requirements is for nurses to be able to speak fluent German, it might be worth taking up German language classes if you are interested in working and living in a country with timeless tradition and culture. And of course, the salary is good as well, ranging at around € 2,468 (RM 11,053/SGD 3,688).

9. Finland

This natural wonderland belongs in the top 5 of countries where people are most satisfied with their healthcare. (9) With a monthly average salary of € 2,487 (RM 11,138/SGD 3,7168), only a person with a degree in nursing can work as a nurse in this country. MIMS

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