Expatriate Non-Muslim Nurses' Experiences of Working in a Cardiac Intensive Care Unit in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

Monday, 22 July 2013

Valerie Janet Ehlers, PhD
Department of Health Studies, University of South Africa (Unisa), Pretoria, South Africa
Michelle Van Bommel, BA, Honours BA, MA
Head of college (training health care workers including nurses), Robin Trust College, Cape Town, South Africa

Learning Objective 1: identify some challenges encountered by expatriate non-Muslim nurses when caring for Muslim patients who underwent open cardiac surgery

Learning Objective 2: understand the impact of culture shock, language barriers and lack of knowledge about Islam on providing culture competent care in a cardiac intensive care unit

Purpose: This study aimed to identify expatriate non-Muslim nurses' experiences of caring for post operative cardiac patients in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA).  These findings could be used to enhance cultural adaption for the nurses and the quality of their nursing care rendered.

 Methods: An exploratory descriptive qualitative design was adopted and individual semi structured interviews were conducted with 63 expatriate non-Muslim nurses working in cardiac intensive care units in the KSA.  The transcribed data were analysed and coded into themes, categories and subcategories by two independent coders who reached consensus after consultations.

 Results: Three major themes emerged from the data analysis: culture shock, language challenges, and understanding Islam as a religion.  The major culture shock issues involved nurses' lack of knowledge about Muslim patients' lifestyles, values, traditions, clothing styles, strict male-female segregation, and the nurses did not know how to manage the patients in the cardiac intensive care unit.  Language challenges revolved around the nurses' inabilities to understand patients' basic requests, explain procedures to patients, and explain changes in the patient's condition to his/her visitors.  Religious aspects referred to nurses' lack of understanding of Muslim patients' strict prayer schedules, perceptions of healing, religious practices such as fasting, and the role of the mother in the life of the cardiac patient.

 Conclusion: Effective pre-employment and in-service education programs could facilitate nurses' cultural transition and enhance the quality of nursing care rendered.