A phenomenological study of the lived experiences of foreign educated nurses working in the United States of America.



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The overall goal of this study was to explore and describe the lived experiences of foreign educated nurses (FENs) working in the United States of America (US). Since World War II, the US has recruited FENs to fill recurring workplace vacancies of registered nurses (RNs). Despite this long history, few studies have examined the lived experiences of FENs who face challenges of different languages and communication styles, cultural diversities and lifestyle practices, and professional and workplace expectations. A review of literature about challenges facing other foreign-educated professionals revealed high levels of acculturative stress related to workplace role ambiguity, unclear expectations, and communication barriers and the necessity of investigating their lived experiences to guide future support programs. These findings supported the significance of this exploratory and descriptive study that employed a phenomenology of practice research approach to answer the question: What are the lived experiences of foreign educated nurses working in United States of America? A purposive sample of 20 FENs immigrated to the US from The Philippines, India, and Nigeria within the last five years was recruited for the study. Primary data were the narratives collected during interviews. Data were collected until saturation and redundancy were observed. Assigning code numbers, interviewing participants in private places, and maintaining all study materials in locked files were methods used to protect confidentiality. Interview data were transcribed, coded, and clustered during thematic analysis guided by Giorgi (1985). Findings were six emergent themes that captured the essences of 17 conceptual categories: Dreams of a better life, Difficulties of the journey, A shocking reality, Rising above the challenges, Feeling and doing better, and ready to help others. Truth value and scientific rigor of the study were evaluated using the standards of: (1) descriptive vividness, (2) methodological congruence, (3) analytical preciseness, (4) theoretical correctness, and (5) heuristic relevance (Burns & Grove, 2003) and Lincoln& Guba’s (1985) criteria of trustworthiness. Berry and Kim’s (1988) model of acculturation was found to be a fitting context for the comparison of this study’s findings with extant knowledge about acculturative experiences of immigrants.