Overseas nurses feel their skills are underused and they aren't valued or respected

October 14, 2010

Many overseas nurses have negative experiences of living and working in the UK, particularly when it comes to feeling personally valued and professionally respected, according to the October issue of the Journal of Clinical Nursing.

Researchers from the University of Northampton also found that discrimination and racism still exist in the National Health Service and that the reality of first-world UK nursing is often very different to what overseas nurses expect.

Senior lecturer and nurse Julia Nichols and Professor of Neurophysiology Jackie Campbell carried out an in-depth research review of 30 papers, surveys and Government strategy documents published since 1997, covering the views of nearly 4,000 overseas nurses.

"If overseas nurses chose to leave the UK in large numbers, health services could face a severe staffing shortage" says Julia Nichols. "It is important that we listen carefully to their experiences to help identify priorities for policies and practice so that we can improve migrant nurses' job satisfaction and articulate the value that they bring to UK nursing.

"Although some positive experiences are described, significant numbers of nurses describe not feeling personally or professionally valued by the UK nursing establishment and common emotions include disappointment and unmet expectations."

The UK has a long established tradition of employing overseas nurses, particularly from the Republic of Ireland and the Commonwealth. This dates back to the Colonial Nursing Service, which was established in the 1940s to unify the administration of nursing appointments across Britain and its overseas dependencies.

Since 1997 approximately 100,000 international nurses from 50 countries have obtained UK registration, with the largest numbers coming from the Philippines, India, South Africa and Australia. However, the Nursing and Midwifery Council reports that almost a fifth of the nurses who joined the register between 1997 and 2006 did not renew their registration.

The research review carried out by Nichols and Campbell provides a number of clues about why retention is an ongoing issue, including: The review has prompted the authors to make a number of suggestions as to how retention could be improved. These include: "The key themes that emerged from our research review suggest that, while there are many positive accounts of working in the UK, many overseas nurses find it a negative, frustrating experience" concludes Julia Nichols.

"Managing nurses' expectations and respecting their expertise are vital if we are to make best use of their skills and knowledge. We need to put caring back into the heart of nursing and this extends to supporting and nurturing overseas nurses."
-end-
Notes to editors

The experiences of internationally recruited nurses in the UK (1995-2007): an integrative review. Nichols J and Campbell J. Journal of Clinical Nursing.19, 2814-2823. (October 2010). DOI: 10.1111/j.1365-2702.2009.03119.x

Journal of Clinical Nursing (JCN) is an international, peer reviewed, scientific journal that seeks to promote the development and exchange of knowledge that is directly relevant to all spheres of nursing and midwifery practice. The primary aim is to promote a high standard of clinically related scholarship, which supports the practice and discipline of nursing. JCN publishes high quality papers on issues related to clinical nursing, regardless of where care is provided. This includes - but is not limited to - ambulatory care, community care, family care, home, hospital, practice, primary and secondary, and public health. www.blackwellpublishing.com/jcn

Wiley-Blackwell is the international scientific, technical, medical, and scholarly publishing business of John Wiley & Sons, with strengths in every major academic and professional field and partnerships with many of the world's leading societies. Wiley-Blackwell publishes nearly 1,500 peer-reviewed journals and 1,500+ new books annually in print and online, as well as databases, major reference works and laboratory protocols. For more information, please visit www.wileyblackwell.com or www.interscience.wiley.com

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