The Nurse Abroad: Challenges of Working Overseas as a Nurse
Each person has their own reason why they persevere on something, though it may appear vague and unreasonable to others. While others enroll in nursing school solely because of their calling, others choose to take this path in the hopes of working abroad. Perhaps it is due to few job opportunities and the insufficient income they earn as a nurse in their country, or maybe it is because they want to experience a whole new way of living. Whichever, working as an overseas nurse is one tough ride.
Adapting to a new environment
New place, new friends, new workplace, different country. Working overseas require a whole lot of adjustment and it could be quite challenging, too. Most nurses are forced to leave their families and their comfort zone for increased salary. Being in an unfamiliar environment, without your support system, it could be somewhat difficult to settle at first.
Studies have shown that foreign-trained nurses have trouble adjusting to a new work environment in a foreign country. Language and cultural differences are often reported as sources of difficulty for migrant nurses.
During your first days in your new place, you couldn’t help but feel homesick and get that “I-don’t-wanna-stay-here-any-longer-I-wanna-go-home” feeling. You want your old bed, your old routine, your old home.How you do things at home may not be the same as how they should be done in your new place. You keep wanting to cling to the familiar, yet you know you have to acclimate yourself to the “new things” in order to survive.
Thoughts of home will always haunt you, but you know you have to learn how to brave and do things on your own from now on.
Though there are people who are strongly against racism and the like, there are still those who treat migrant nurses unequally and poorly. Discrimination has been said to be a critical ethical issue in nurse migration. Migrant nurses are reported to often suffer from discrimination due to poorly implemented equal-opportunity policies and pervasive double standards. In some cases, while a recruiter may offer a specific salary, migrant nurses often arrive in the recipient country to find the compensation less than what was originally promised.
Also, though nurses work the same hours and same number of shifts, migrant nurses are paid less than nurses who were born in the recipient country. In other cases, those nurse from developed countries such as the United States, the United Kingdom, or Australia, are paid higher salaries than those from the less developed ones such as the Philippines, India and many more.
Establishing a new support system
Aside from new encounters at work, forming new relationships may be a bit challenging.Moving to a new place, without the people you’re used to seeing every day, you can’t help but feel a bit lonely. Some nurses reported feelings of isolation, loneliness, difficulty coping, frustration, confusion, and loss of self-confidence and self-esteem during the adjustment process.
You miss your old friends, your family, your previous co-workers, but hey, you’re a thousand miles away from them now. You’re in a whole new country, so what’s the best you could do? Find new friends and form a support system. That way, you can lessen your homesickness and finally enjoy this “new country experience”. Sometimes, it may not be as smooth sailing as you hoped it would be, at other times, you get lucky and find a set of genuine friends whom you could gain strength from and actually enjoy this milestone in your life with. They would be like your second family, your “home away from home.”
Challenging yet rewarding
Though moving to a new country to work is tough, many also say that their working as overseas nurses is a rewarding experience. Not only are they able to help their families by sending them money for expenses, they also emerge as a different person. They gain new experiences, are able to learn new things and experience new cultures. They get to learn how to stand on their own, to be independent and to depend on themselves, most of the time.
Generally speaking, working as overseas nurses may be a rollercoaster ride, but at the end of the day, it is not an experience that you would regret. In other words, like a diamond being honed to perfection, the challenges they face being migrant nurses mold them to becomewiser, stronger and improved persons.