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Even more Spanish nurses will start working in the Netherlands

The number of Spanish nurses working for Dutch healthcare companies will increase fourfold by the end of 2019, according to Arnold Smeink, director of the European Multi Talent Group (EMTG)

Spanish nurses learning Dutch

Spanish nurses are learning Dutch at EMTG’s campus in Jávea on the Costa Blanca.

“The possibility of the creation of a wasted generation of Spanish nurses posed a major threat to our established healthcare systems”, Smeink explains when elaborating on the reason why he decided to help Spanish nurses find work in the Netherlands. “Spanish nurses receive an excellent four-year education at ‘level 6’ in Spain. However, due to the economic crisis, many nurses were unable to find jobs and therefore had no future in Spain. I was living in Spain at that time and returned to the Netherlands in 2012 in order to help these nurses find work in the Netherlands.”

Actively working in geriatrics

At the moment, 70 Spanish nurses are working for Dutch healthcare companies. At first, these nurses work in the field of geriatrics, for companies such as Cordaan in Amsterdam, Vivium Zorggroep in Blaricum, the Van Nynselgroep in Den Bosch, Zorgbalans in Haarlem, and the Meandergroep in Landgraaf. “From the moment that the Dutch government made more funding available for geriatrics in 2016 and 2017, the project truly started flourishing” Smeink explains.

Starting as a nursing assistant

The nurses do not immediately start at ‘Level 6’. They must first complete their ‘BIG-registration’ and have a good command of the Dutch language. For that reason, the nurses always start as nursing assistants in geriatrics. Once they have completed their ‘BIG-registrations’, the nurses will have the opportunity to start working as either district nurses or nurses in nursing homes.

Hospitals and mental healthcare organisations

Other sectors of the healthcare industry have also expressed their interest in this project. EMTG is now negotiating with hospitals in Rotterdam and Utrecht in order to arrange the recruitment of specialised nurses that can work in operating rooms or in intensive care. Smeink also hopes to be able to sign his first contract with a substance abuse centre in Amsterdam. This will also be the first contract Smeink signs with a mental health care organisation. He also expects a significant increase in the number of nurses he can recruit in the coming years. “In 2017 we recruited 40 nurses. This year this number will rise to 100 nurses, which we hope will later increase to 400 nurses by the end of 2019. This is, of course, only a drop in the ocean as a result of the growing shortage of qualified personnel. But at least now we are able to contribute to a solution.”

Spanish nurses will stay for at least six years

According to Smeink, the Spanish nurses are extremely motivated. “They truly love what they do. Working in the Netherlands is not just a little adventure for these nurses, which is often the case with other migrant workers, such as those from Poland. These nurses plan to stay here for at least six years and try to actually make a living in the Netherlands. ‘Maybe I’ll meet the love of my life in the Netherlands’ some say.

They also come from Portugal, Italy, and Greece

Not all of the nurses are from Spain. EMTG also works with Portuguese, Italian and Greek nurses. ‘These nurses have the same problems. They are highly qualified but do not have any career prospects in their own countries. What about now after the economic crisis? Is the situation any better? Unfortunately, it isn’t: the governments in southern Europe do not spend as much money on their health care as countries like the Netherlands do. EMTG has also recently started working in the United Kingdom with Spanish nurses who already work there. ‘They have indicated to us that the general mentality and their working environment have changed since Brexit. They have to cope with discrimination both inside and outside the workplace. They want to leave the United Kingdom as soon as possible’ Smeink says.

A language course in Spain

The Dutch language is a crucial barrier to any Southern European nurses wishing to start working in the Netherlands. They, therefore, follow an intensive 13-week Dutch language course. In order to facilitate this, EMTG runs a campus in Spain. The Portuguese, Italian and Greek nurses also follow this language course in Spain. Even learning about cultural differences is an important part of this intensive programme. ‘Southern Europeans usually communicate more ‘dramatically’. We try to show them how Dutch patients would react to this. Even small gestures could have different meanings in different cultures. Italians sometimes raise a finger to indicate that they would like to say something. This, however, sometimes appears as though they are sticking up their middle finger’.

A warm welcome & guidance

EMTG guides its nurses once they arrive in the Netherlands. They also receive help with integrating into Dutch society. A special coach further helps them with practical and administrative matters, such as applying for a ‘DigiD’. This coach also helps them find their way in the social environment the Netherlands has to offer. ‘A warm welcome and excellent guidance are essential, otherwise, everything could go wrong’. That has happened twice before. One nurse felt homesick and another couldn’t work together with her colleagues and wanted to do everything her way instead of following protocol.

 

Article published by Zorgvisie newspaper.

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