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The transition to practice in Canada : the experiences of nurses educated outside of Canada Nelson, Lori Jane

Abstract

To address the current and predicted nurse shortage in Canada many organizations are recruiting nurses from abroad (Canadian Nurses Association [CNA], 2002b). It is projected that in order to meet future demand estimates, an increasing number of nurses educated outside of Canada will need to be recruited. Across Canada in 2002, there were more than 1800 new nurse registrants from other countries, a significant increase from the 1,072 who registered in 2000 (Barry, Sweatman, Little, & Davies, 2003; CNA, 2002b). The transition to practice engages nurses in a complex, challenging process of adaptation. The purpose of this study is to describe and understand the experiences of nurses, educated in a country other than Canada, as they make the transition to practice within the Canadian health care system. A qualitative design using ethnographic methods of data collection, namely in-depth interviews, was used in this study. For the purposes of in-depth interviewing it was important that the participants were able to provide a rich description of their transition experience to practicing in Canada. For this reason purposeful sampling was utilized to select the 13 participants. Participants include 11 women and 2 men who had moved to Canada in the past 4 years from Australia, Britain, and the Philippines. Seven of the participants were married and five had children. There were six nurses with work permits, another six have landed immigrant status and one is a permanent resident. Most were employed full-time in acute care; one nurse was unemployed at the time of the interview. The participants' descriptions of the experiences of making the transition to practice in Canada led to a better understanding of why nurses choose to move, misconceptions that occur related to relocation, and challenges nurses experience in adapting to Canada. Other themes identified in the findings include: isolation, professional support, questioning one's own competence, feeling valued, and the significance of work and social support networks. Recommendations identified from the findings relate to government sectors of human resources, customs, and immigration, regulatory bodies, health care organizations, future immigrant nurses, and research.

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