"Know What Battle to Fight and How to Fight It": Navigating the Cultural Terrain of Healthcare

Sunday, 8 November 2015: 4:40 PM

Josephine B. Etowa, RN, PhD
School of Nursing, University of Ottawa, Ottawa, ON, Canada

Background: Globalisation and the changing demographics of contemporary society call for a diverse health professionals’ workforce to provide effective health care for all consumers.  There has been growing interest in issues of diversity, social inclusion, and racism within the nursing profession and programs are being developed to promote diversity in the profession. This growing interest in understanding the importance of diversity and social inclusion, as well as the specific experiences of minority health professionals, holds promise for health care. Therefore, sustained efforts to create a healthy population should include examining the work life experiences of minority nurses already working in the system and creating a healthy work environment for all nurses irrespective their ethno-cultural backgrounds.

Purpose: This paper will present the findings of a grounded theory study that investigated the work life of visible minority nurses in Atlantic Canada.

Methodology: Qualitative study using grounded theory. In-depth individual interviews of twelve Registered Nurses (RN) were primary source of data collection. Snowball technique and theoretical sampling directed recruitment to enhance maximum variation. Interviews were transcribed verbatim and coded.  Constant comparative method was used for data analysis and Atlas ti computer software facilitated data storage and management

 Results:  The paper will focus on the theme of relationship with professional colleagues and patients as well as the organizational culture that formed the backdrop to these relationships. It will explicate the conditions that influence the work life of visible minority nurses including racism, organizational culture and discrimination. It will discuss the impact that experiencing and witnessing racism have on the mental health of these nurses and their responses to differential treatment.

Conclusion: It will conclude with recommendations for fostering a healthy work environment for visible minority nurses including mentoring programs and opportunities for career advancements.