July 3, 2017

Nursing in UAE vs. USA: Apples to oranges?

When someone says they’re a nurse, no matter where in the world they work, it conjures up a standard image of someone in scrubs with a stethoscope around their neck, checking vitals and providing general medical care. It’s an essential occupation throughout the world, but some countries give nurses more authority and responsibility than others, and the range of schooling and duties can be vastly different. Often, it’s like comparing apples and oranges, which is the case when looking at nursing in the United Arab Emirates versus the United States.


Nursing education standards for both the UAE and the United States are pretty equal. Nurses must either have a two-year associate’s degree or a four-year bachelor’s degree (wages typically increase with higher education). Although nursing is a highly-skilled job and is gaining respect as a profession in both countries, in the UAE, nurses can be seen as nursemaids rather than qualified professionals, and the nursing shortage in the UAE is directly attributed to this perception.Wages for nursing vary significantly between the two places. In the UAE, the average salary of a nurse is roughly one-third of that of their U.S. counterparts. Many would look at those numbers and wonder why in the world anyone would want to be a nurse in the UAE if wages are so low. It comes down to the benefits.Wages might be lower for nurses in the UAE, but the benefits can often compensate for the difference. The appeal of tax-free salaries is a major draw for Americans tired of shelling out hard-earned income to Uncle Sam. All money earned in the UAE is yours to keep, tax-free. Many employers offer free or reduced housing, or generous housing allowances to nurses, which helps offset the difference in salary.Also, it’s not uncommon for nurses to have 30 to 40 days of vacation every year. This gives many people an opportunity to travel and see parts of the world they never even dreamed of visiting. Nurses in the UAE often receive travel allowances, which not only covers the cost of transportation to and from work, but travel to and from their home country.A work week in the UAE is 48 hours as opposed to the traditional 40 in the U.S. This is offset by regulation of overtime hours allowed, though. In the U.S., it’s not uncommon for nurses to work 12 hours or more overtime in a week. In the UAE, the law states no more than 2 hours of overtime per day, and a mandatory rest day after six days of work, so even if a nurse wanted to work that seventh day for more overtime, it wouldn’t be allowed. Additionally, most employers in the U.S. reserve the right to schedule you on weekends with some positions requiring weekend work. In the UAE, employers are not allowed to schedule nurses for more than two weekends a month.

Nursing is a Universal Occupation

Although nursing is similar in both countries, there are distinct advantages to both systems. It probably comes down to the grass being greener on the other side. While wages are lower in the UAE for nurses, this is offset by the benefits provided. The fact that both systems require the same amount of education emphasizes the continuity of the profession, and the fact remains that nurses are the lifeblood of hospitals all over the globe regardless of your home country.For information on bringing foreign nursing talent to your healthcare facility, contact the PassportUSA Team.

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