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Emerging issues of identity and language socialization in the process of reaccreditation for registered nurses educated abroad Sewerin, Margarita

Abstract

This study examines how foreign educated nurses experience the acquisition of the language and culture of nursing in Canada through the process of reaccreditation. The study explores five nurses' perceptions in the following areas: a) the nature of nursing in which they were socialized in their own country and in Canada; b) how they became socialized into the culture of Canadian nursing through the reaccreditation process and programs designed to assist them; c) how they will continue to be socialized after reaccreditation as working professionals in Canada. A life history approach was used to explore the nurses' perspective on nursing across language and culture within a chronological or developmental framework. The voices presented in the stories belong to five nurses who were successful in obtaining reaccreditation after completing two programs designed to assist them in fulfilling the licensure requirements and in preparing for work in the Canadian health system. Five life stories were collected through interviews which were then edited and analyzed. The themes in the stories appear to indicate that in these nurses' view, first of all, their identity as nurses underwent a complex interplay involving elements, some of which remained constant (the notion of caring) and others which are manifested differently in different cultures and must be learned (how to approach patients). Secondly, the nurses in the study indicated that the programs in which they participated, in particular a refresher program, were invaluable in preparing them to be competent, confident nurses in Canada. Two components were identified by the nurses as being particularly valuable, one was the Communications course, where they learned the language and communication of care that is culturally appropriate for Canada; the other one was the clinical practice, where they saw first-hand how nursing is practiced in this culture, and had the opportunity to integrate their previous knowledge and experience with the newly acquired theory. The ESL components of these programs did not meet the nurses' expectations. According to the nurses, the ESL classes were designed primarily to help them obtain the required scores on the TOEFL and TSE, two examinations which they saw as not being indicative of language proficiencies required for nursing. The five women felt that most activities in the ESL class were decontextualized, neither supporting them with the academic language needs of the nursing courses, nor preparing them for the language needs of the workplace. Finally, all the nurses in this study currently work in the Canadian health care system. They describe how they continue to be socialized into the culture of nursing and reflect on changes in their sense of being nurses in Canada. At the end of the study, implications were drawn for further research and practice.

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