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Spanish nurses in the Netherlands

Say ‘Sí’ to Spanish nurses in the Netherlands!

Spanish nurses in the Netherlands

© Photo Zorgbalans Foreground: These six Italians and Spaniards will be in the Netherlands and are now learning Dutch in Spain.

In order to solve the growing shortage of personnel in the Netherlands, more and more Spanish, Portuguese, Italian and Greek nurses are coming to the Netherlands. The healthcare recruitment agency European Multi Talent Group (EMTG) from Naarden expects a significant increase in the number of foreign nurses working in the Netherlands.

The agency has already provided employment for over one hundred Southern European nurses in the Netherlands. EMTG’s director, Arnold Smeink, expects fourfold by the end of next year. The Southern European professionals work for healthcare compaånies and district teams in areas such as Het Gooi, Haarlem, Groningen, Den Bosch and Amsterdam. In Rotterdam, these nurses work in various hospitals. «The nurses in question are highly educated and qualified in the ages of 24 and 34 who have trouble finding employment in their own countries.

An Opportunity

Smeink came up with the idea for his agency when he was living in Spain. «In the Netherlands, I worked in the temporary employment sector and I chose the growing shortage of healthcare professionals in the Netherlands I had a few questions about the Spanish nurses, but they were not as enthusiastic about the idea as I. Earlier experiences with foreign nurses, from Poland, Indonesia or the Philippines, had language barrier I said: ‘give me one chance, I’ll do it differently.’ «

Investing in Foreign Nurses

According to Smeink, the mistake that other employers made was that they did not invest enough in foreign personnel. «This is why they could not get there in the Netherlands.» For that reason, Smeink founded a school close to the city of Benidorm, where nurses from Italy, Spain, and Portugal learn Dutch in three months. «This way, they already have a decent command of the Dutch language when they arrive in the Netherlands.»

These nurses are then further trained in the Netherlands and receive help with finding accommodation. The intention is that they are also able to register in the ‘BIG register‘, which is a legal requirement for anyone wishing to work in the healthcare sector. «The whole process until the finalization of the BIG-registration can take up to five months.

At the moment, four Spanish and five Italian nurses are working for ‘Zorgbalans’, a healthcare company. This year another six nurses will join this group. Community care director Inge Veenstra is very satisfied with these new employees. «I first thought some clients might find it difficult to get fluent in. However, we have now seen that our clients are very competent and very nice people.»

Veenstra tells us Zorgbalans has been trying everything to find new employees. These foreign nurses are a small solution to a greater problem. «The shortage of personnel is still growing, but we are very pleased with the extra help.»


The Southern European nurses are not allowed to perform their usual activities when they arrive in the Netherlands. They start with basic tasks, such as dressing or bathing patients. Once they have been guided in their work and they have a better command of the Dutch language, they are allowed to do more.

Antonio Beninati (31) is from Palermo (Sicily) and works for Zorgbalans in Haarlem. He is very pleased with his job. «The clients are very nice and want to help when I do not understand some words», he says. He is now looking forward to the arrival of his new foreign colleagues. «I could also learn so much from them», he says.

Even Eures, the international department of the UWV, recruits healthcare professionals on the international market and has a growing demand for Southern European nurses. Advisor Pieter van der Valk mentions, «We advise the healthcare companies to be honest with their new nurses, and they are often no fun for anyone.»

In Haarlem, Veenstra still tries to make life in the Netherlands as easy and as comfortable as possible for new Southern European nurses. They share their accommodation, for example. » I truly hope they want to stay with us.»


Published by De Gooi and Eemlander newspaper

Written by Merlin Mulder


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