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Immigrant Filipino nurses in Western Canada : an exploration of motivations and migration experiences through oral history Ronquillo, Charlene Esteban


Over the latter half of the twentieth century, a steady increase in the numbers of immigrant Filipino nurses have been incorporated into the Canadian healthcare workforce, mirroring trends of international nurse migration to other Western countries. Yet, there is a paucity of information on the contexts surrounding the motivations and experiences of this group of migrants who work as registered nurses in Canada. This study aims to add a historical perspective in order to understand the historical contexts surrounding this phenomenon, to gain an informed understanding of past and current trends, and more importantly, to examine what surrounded and shaped the experiences of immigrant Filipino nurses. This study explores the oral histories of nine immigrant Filipino nurses in Alberta and British Columbia who migrated from 1974 to 2005, and aims to take the beginning steps in understanding this migration phenomenon in the Canadian context. The findings revealed that the motivations and experiences of migrant Filipino nurses were significantly influenced by the lasting effects of the historical colonial relationship between the US and the Philippines. Other important influences, however, include familial pressures and societal constructs of Filipino culture, the structure of nursing education in the Philippines, and issues of racism. These factors also shaped the transition process of the registered nurses into the Canadian workforce. With more attention and resources currently being directed at addressing foreign nurse transition and work integration in Canada, findings of this study prompt a critical reflection on these current trends and includes in the conclusion important implications on policy development for future foreign nurse immigrants entering Canada. The study concludes that social and cultural factors as much as economic ones shape nurses desire to migrate as well as their transition into the Canadian nurse workforce.

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