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Growing through experiencing and overcoming strangeness and communication barriers : the essential structure of becoming a foreign nurse : a phenomenological study


The research question in this study is ‘What is the lived experience of foreign
nurses of working at a hospital in Iceland?’ It is conducted in the international
context of a rise in migration of nurses and the local context of changes from a
homogeneous towards a multicultural society. The aim of the study is to
generate an understanding of the foreign nurses’ experience. The purpose is to
facilitate a constructive international climate and recruitment strategies in
Icelandic hospitals and to increase knowledge of what it is like to be a foreign
resident in Iceland. The methodology that guided the study is phenomenology,
a variation termed “the Vancouver school of doing phenomenology.” Sampling
was purposeful. The sample consisted of eleven RN nurses from seven
countries and three continents working at three hospitals. Most of them had no,
or limited, knowledge of Icelandic at the onset of employment. The data were
collected in dialogues and the analysis was thematic. The overall findings are
presented as ‘Growing through experiencing and overcoming strangeness and
communication barriers’, and five main themes describe the essence of the
experience. The first theme is ‘Meeting and tackling the initial, multiple and
unexpected simultaneous challenges.’ It was distressing for most of them to
start to work in Iceland, also for the nurses from near-culture countries. They
received support from various people and a quitters-never-win attitude assisted
them also to persist. The second theme is ‘Becoming an outsider and the need
to be let in, to belong.’ Having been insiders in their own countries, they
experienced the troublesome feeling of becoming an outsider. They needed to
belong, particularly at work. Belonging meant to be valued, accepted and
trusted and to make Icelandic friends. The third theme is ‘Struggling with the
language barrier.’ Lack of effective means to express themselves was
distressing and affected the other domains of their adjustment. Learning
Icelandic was pressuring even though they received support from colleagues
and patients. Once they started to speak the language, they encountered the
problem that their fluency was overestimated and the telephone became a
fearsome device. The fourth theme is ‘Adjusting to a different work culture.’
They encountered a work culture that was different from what they were used
to. Some aspects they appreciate, such as less workload and stress, and more
equality and informality. Others make them uncomfortable, such as excessive
individual freedom in practice and insufficient discipline, precision and use of
protocols. The fifth theme is ‘Overcoming challenges to win through.’ This
happy turning point commonly occurred after about six months to one year.
They had overcome most of the challenges they faced initially: achieved
substantial sense of belonging, become more at ease in the different work
culture, and could use the language with some confidence. They feel they have
grown personally and professionally by the experience and half of them are on
the track of further study. Some hurdles remain such as difficulties in
establishing close friendships with Icelanders, and less than desired fluency in
Icelandic. The findings correspond to a difficult but benevolent acculturation
process. In some aspects, they correlate to findings in similar studies but they
are different in other aspects. The reasons for the differences might be different
environment and composition of the samples.


Hildur Magnúsdótti... .pdf645KBOpinn Growing through - heild PDF Skoða/Opna