The experience of China-educated nurses working in Australia : a symbolic interactionist perspective

Zhou, Yunxian (2010) The experience of China-educated nurses working in Australia : a symbolic interactionist perspective. PhD thesis, Queensland University of Technology.


Transnational nurse migration is a growing phenomenon. However, relatively little is known about the experiences of immigrant nurses and particularly about non-English speaking background nurses who work in more economically developed countries. Informed by a symbolic interactionist framework, this research explored the experience of China-educated nurses working in the Australian health care system. Using a modified constructivist grounded theory method, the main source of data were 46 face to face in-depth interviews with 28 China-educated nurses in two major cities in Australia. The key findings of this research are fourfold. First, the core category developed in this study is reconciling different realities, which inserts a theoretical understanding beyond the concepts of acculturation, assimilation, and integration. Second, in contrast to the dominant discourse which reduces the experience of immigrant nurses to language and culture, this research concludes that it was not just about language and nor was it simply about culture. Third, rather than focus on the negative aspects of difference as in the immigration literature and in the practice of nursing, this research points to the importance of recognising the social value of difference. Finally, the prevailing view that the experience of immigrant nurses is largely negative belies its complexities. This research concludes that it is naïve to define the experience as either good or bad. Rather, ambivalence was the essential feature of the experience and a more appropriate theoretical concept. This research produced a theoretical understanding of the experience of China-educated nurses working in Australia. The findings may not only inform Chinese nurses who wish to immigrate but also contribute to the implementation of more effective support services for immigrant nurses in Australian health care organisations.

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6 citations in Web of Science®
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ID Code: 31866
Item Type: QUT Thesis (PhD)
Supervisor: Coyer, Fiona, Theobald, Karen, & Windsor, Carol
Keywords: immigration, nurses, immigrant nurses, Chinese nurses, experience, Australia, symbolic interactionism, grounded theory
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Health
Current > Institutes > Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation
Current > Schools > School of Nursing
Institution: Queensland University of Technology
Deposited On: 20 Apr 2010 01:28
Last Modified: 28 Oct 2011 19:56

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