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Lived experiences of internationally educated nurses in hospitals in the United States of America


Mini M. Jose, School of Nursing, University of Texas Medical Branch, 301 University Boulevard, Galveston, TX 77555, USA; Tel: +1 713 471 0438; Fax: +1 281 461 0776; E-mail:


JOSE M. M. (2011) Lived experiences of internationally educated nurses in hospitals in the United States of America. International Nursing Review58, 123–129

Aim:  The overall goal of this study was to elicit and describe the lived experiences of internationally educated nurses (IENs) who work in a multi-hospital medical centre in the urban USA.

Background:  Since World War Two, US health care agencies have addressed the nursing shortage by hiring IENs. While other countries have produced substantial research findings about their IENs, much less research has been done about IENs in the USA. Findings from the limited US studies suggest that more research is needed and first-hand reports of lived experiences must be added.

Methods:  Using a phenomenology of practice study design and Giorgi's principles of data analysis, narratives from the guided interviews with 20 new immigrant IENs who had migrated from the countries of the Philippines, Nigeria and India to the USA, were collected and studied for themes.

Findings and discussion:  Six themes that emerged from the stories of IENs together describe a trajectory of lived experiences that the IENs encountered during their adjustments to living and working in the USA. The emergent themes weredreams of a better life, a difficult journey, a shocking reality, rising above the challenges, feeling and doing better and ready to help others. Study findings are similar to studies done in other countries and highlight the needs of IENs.

Conclusion:  The study findings provide important first-hand insights from the subjective perspectives of the IENs in US hospitals and will guide recruitment and retention of a diverse nursing workforce. Findings will enrich orientation and transition programs for IENs as well as strengthen the cohesiveness of a diverse nursing workforce in the USA.