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Keywords:

  • cultural sensitivity;
  • education;
  • equality;
  • expectations;
  • management;
  • nurses

Aims.  This article offers practical strategies to managers and others for supporting overseas trained nurses and managing cultural diversity in the health workforce.

Background.  Widespread nursing shortages have led managers to recruit nurses from overseas, mainly from developing countries. This paper draws on evidence from the Researching Equal Opportunities for Internationally Recruited Nurses and Other Health Professionals study reported elsewhere in this issue, which indicates that overseas trained nurses encountered widespread discriminatory practices including an overuse of complaints and grievances against them. The researchers also found that the overseas trained nurses responded to their experiences by using various personal strategies to resist or re-negotiate and overcome such discriminatory practices.

Methods.  A research workshop was held in June 2005 at the midpoint of the Researching Equal Opportunities for Internationally Recruited Nurses and Other Health Professionals study. Twenty-five participants attended the workshop. They were the Researching Equal Opportunities for Internationally Recruited Nurses and Other Health Professionals study researchers, advisory group members, including the author of this paper and other researchers in the field of migration. The overall aim of the workshop was to share emerging research data from the Researching Equal Opportunities for Internationally Recruited Nurses and Other Health Professionals and related studies. The final session of the workshop on which this paper is based, was facilitated by the author, with the specific aim of asking the participants to discuss and determine the challenges to managers when managing a culturally diverse workforce. The discussion yielded four main themes collated by the author from which a framework of strategies to facilitate equality and cultural diversity management of the healthcare workers may be developed. The four themes are: assumptions and expectations; education and training to include cultural sensitivity, equality and human rights; performance management; and transparent human resource management processes.

Conclusion.  Managing a racially and culturally diverse workforce is complex and challenging for managers. There are no ready-made tools to show them how to do so. Achieving effective management of a culturally diverse workforce comes from an intrinsic motivation to develop the cultural competence to engage with them.

Implications for practice.  This article, together with others in this special issue, provides a springboard for moving this agenda on. It offers managers a framework of themes, which they can draw on to develop their own best practice for managing racial equality and cultural diversity in the health workforce.