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How RNs from refugee backgrounds tackle unique workplace challenges

Nurses from a refugee background experience discrimination, subordination and racism from patients and staff, and face challenges getting accustomed to a new environment and integrating into the workplace.

These were some of the key findings of a scoping review of the experiences of registered nurses from refugee backgrounds, published in the Journal of Clinical Nursing.

“Participants experienced disrespect by workplace colleagues and managers, felt not listened to, disillusionment in the conduct of nursing practice and professional loss, being deskilled as employers placed the participants in unfamiliar areas in the hospital,” the paper read. “Cultural insensitivity was reported in the workplace as the participants experienced discomfort, despair and post-traumatic stress when employers would push for personal information from participants to recount their time as refugees and make insensitive comments about patients.”

The study found that some of the challenges these nurses face are similar to those experienced by skilled migrant nurses in Australia, however due to their forced migration, refugees frequently experience premigration trauma, require greater intervention and must “catch up” to their skilled migrant counterparts during resettlement and integration.

Lead author Harrison Ng Chok, a PhD candidate from Western Sydney University, said despite the challenges they face, nurses from refugee backgrounds are resilient, and survivors beyond the ordeals and hardships they faced before settling in a new host country.

Nursing Review spoke with Ng Chok to find out how these nurses tackle the challenges they face and what workplaces can do to help.

Ng Chok is currently looking to speak with RNs from a refugee background for a study into their resettlement journey and experiencing of becoming an RN in Australia. He can be reached via email: [email protected]

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