What a day

May 2023

What a day!

We had a welcome event for a new cohort of International Nurses today and I felt a whole range of conflicting emotions. Overall, it was a successful event and our new colleagues were welcomed with open arms. I will however explore some of the emotions and experiences in more depth.

Letting them down – I felt a huge amount of sadness and guilt actually. These nurses are coming here with the intention of having a better quality of life, higher pay, career progression and better working conditions – aren’t we failing them? This isn’t happening! I spoke to some colleagues from Kenya who said they’d accept and tolerate very bad conditions because despite this, they’re still better than if they were at home. Surely that’s not ok?! Is this the direction our NHS is going in? People afraid of speaking up, raising concerns and having a voice because they don’t want things get worse?

Admiration – I don’t know what it feels like to be an International Nurse who travels to another country with a different culture, different language and entirely different healthcare system. I can empathise slightly with these colleagues though as I spent 6 weeks working in a hospital in Sri Lanka and it was an eye opening and overwhelming experience. Having spent quite a bit of time with international colleagues over the years, working alongside them in my clinical capacity or in my role as a PD nurse, some of the challenges have been shared with me. Though many are experienced nurses and professionals; the system, processes, policies and procedures are very different within the NHS; combined with a fast paced, high-stress environment where every other sentence is plugged with an acronym or abbreviation. 

Information overload and overwhelm –  Yes, of course, showcasing and sharing the support available is a no brainer. Not only informing them but helping them feel included and have a sense of belonging from the very beginning. But…. I feel like there was too much information which would be overwhelming. Freedom to Speak Up Guardians, shared decision-making councils, Chaplaincy, Inclusion network, Princes Trust… although all great networks and groups in their own right, when you’re brand new to a country and haven’t even stepped foot in the hospital yet, is this the right information at the right time? There’s no point sharing… get a blue light card, you can get loads of discounts, when they don’t even have an NHS email address yet? The information they wanted and needed was where they can buy cheap affordable food, where the international food shops are, where they can get day to day items, clothing, homeware etc. And the only information shared around this topic was where the nearest John Lewis, Waitrose and Marks and Spencer is – is this really what they need to know?

Overall, I feel more sadness than happiness after today. I feel like we’re massively letting down out international colleagues. There’s such a small team (2 nurses) doing all the OSCE training, they’re not integrated into society as well as they could be or even orientated to the hospital or city! This isn’t good enough!

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