Power distance and migrant nurses: The liminality of acculturation

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John Wiley and Sons, Ltd
A dearth of literature focuses on the relationship between acculturation, power distance and liminality for migrant nurses entering foreign workplaces. Expectations are for migrant nurses to be practice-ready swiftly. However, this aspiration is naïve given the complex shifts that occur in deeply held cultural beliefs and practices and is dependent on an organisational climate of reciprocal willingness to adapt and learn. This exploratory study identified that although a plethora of literature addresses challenges migrant nurses face, there are limited data that link these transitional processes to concepts that might usefully guide transitions. This study draws from the overarching concept of acculturation, together with Hofstede's (2011) notion of power distance and the theory of liminality to explore the experiences of eight migrant nurses. Data highlighted that adjusting to altered hierarchical relationships took many months because negotiating power distance challenged deeply held beliefs and assumptions about professional and organisational hierarchies. Migrant nurses' accounts indicated a paucity of organisational processes to address these difficulties; therefore, they navigated this liminal space of adjustment to power distance differences in an ad hoc manner. Their acculturation experiences, arguably unnecessarily prolonged, indicate the value in workplace commitment to exploring a collaborative, critically reflective approach to optimise transitions.
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acculturation, cultural diversity, intercultural communication, liminality, migrant nurses, power distance, preceptorship
NURSING INQUIRY, 2019, 26 (4)