Academic journal article Contemporary Nurse : a Journal for the Australian Nursing Profession

Nurses on the Move: Evaluation of a Program to Assist International Students Undertaking an Accelerated Bachelor of Nursing Program

Academic journal article Contemporary Nurse : a Journal for the Australian Nursing Profession

Nurses on the Move: Evaluation of a Program to Assist International Students Undertaking an Accelerated Bachelor of Nursing Program

Article excerpt


Nurses are increasingly migrating to Australia to seek better wages and working conditions than those that exist in their native (usually Asian) countries. Nurses comprise part of an overall increase in migration of persons from Asian countries to Australia (Australian Bureau of Statistics 2003). Given the current nursing shortage in Australia, foreign nurses are encouraged to study in Australia and then apply for permanent residency in order to fill critical shortages in the workforce. Skilled migration in the form of qualified nurses is predicted to continue until developed countries like Australia address the underlying causes of nurse shortage and developing countries address the conditions that cause nurses to leave (Kline 2003).

To facilitate migration to Australia increasing numbers of Asian nurses are undertaking an accelerated program, with credits, in order to gain a Bachelor of Nursing (BN) qualification in Australia. The Faculty of Health Sciences, Australian Catholic University (ACU) National is one university that offers such a course, with credit for nursing studies undertaken in the country of origin. Enrolments for this course at the Victorian campus commenced in 2002 and numbers have been increasing, with 20 students enrolled in 2005 and a larger cohort expected in 2006.

It was recognised that these students have unique learning needs in having to meet Australian standards of theoretical and clinical nursing competence in just one year.

Consequently an ACU National Teaching and Learning Enhancement Scheme (TALES) grant of AUD10,000 was sought and gained to enable the provision of additional assistance to these students. This paper reports on an evaluation of the TALES program, augmenting the existing program of study, and aimed at assisting international students undertaking an accelerated one year program to successfully complete the BN and gain employment as an RN.


International nursing students undertaking an accelerated program of study face a number of significant issues, not the least of which is the short time they have to adapt to an Australian university and health care system and become proficient in spoken and written English; not just formal English but colloquial English. Evidence from North America suggests that successful adaptation and course completion relies heavily on proficiency in English, and student anxiety relates to both communications skills and English proficiency (Abel 2002; Abu-Saad & Kayser Jones 1981, 1982; Abu-Saad, Kayser Jones &Tien 1982; Carty et al. 1998; Doutrich 2002). While proficiency in English is an important determinant of success, other factors such as ability to communicate effectively within the culture also play a part (Xu & Davidhizar 2005). Xu and Davidhizar (2005) contend that while personal factors such as proficiency in English, and psychosocial barriers such as a drive for perfection and extreme self consciousness and sensitivity need to be considered in terms of ability to communicate effectively, so also do cultural factors. Cultural factors are viewed as determining perceptual selectivity and are influenced by differing philosophies governing interaction and learning (Kirn & Markus 1999; Markus & Kitayama 1991).

While we should not assume that One size fits all', many international students from Asia tend to share an Eastern philosophy of learning based on a Confucian model. A Confucian model values respectful, effortful and pragmatic attainment of knowledge, whereas Western thinking, based on a Socratic model, values public and private questioning of current knowledge, questioning the beliefs of others and forming one's own theories (Tweed & Lehman 2002). Other cultural differences relate to socialisation. Asian cultures tend towards what Hall ( 1976 cited in Xu & Davidhizar 2005) has termed high context cultures associated with collectivistic cultures where communication is indirect and less explicit (but nonetheless understood by the cultural group) and often for the purpose of preserving face and interdependent group harmony. …

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