Dubai, UAE: Challenges of working in a diverse team can be many and varied affecting all levels of nursing practice in the UAE. This is compounded by the very nature of having a transient expat nursing workforce. Currently, 93% of the nursing workforce in the UAE is recruited from the Indian subcontinent, the Philippines and other Arab countries. For any system that doesn’t acknowledge or support “differences” and uses the ethos “one size fits all” to planning and service delivery, the impact of diversity is significant.
Hiraina McKenzie, Staff Support Specialist, Tawam Hospital, Al Ain, UAE, will discuss the “Value of Diversity – Nursing in the UAE” at the 3rd Nursing Conference which will take place on 14-16 October 2012 at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Center, UAE. The Nursing Conference is part of the 6th annual Abu Dhabi Medical Congress (ADMC) and will address the challenge of preparing nurses with the knowledge, skills and attitudes necessary to continuously improve the quality and safety of the healthcare systems in which they work.
“Many nurses who come to work in the UAE venture here because of the multicultural diversity and the uniqueness of the local culture,” says McKenzie. “However, there is under-utilization of potential resources that come with the expertise that could benefit UAE healthcare. Diversity at a service delivery level can create issues with team dynamics, professional interactions and patient care. This is primarily due to misunderstandings, wrong assumptions and unrealistic expectations of their colleagues, themselves and sometimes the patients.”
According to McKenzie, international best practice of valuing diversity in the workplace has a broader definition of diversity. Diversity is considered to encompass most characteristics that individuals have that affect the way they think and do things. The key concepts of human rights, equality and promotion of equity in the workplace underpin best practice standards and recommendations.
“We in the UAE can most definitely learn from these but we need to always consider the context and the differences here, acknowledging that changes need to be realistic to be effective,” she adds.
When considering diversity in nursing, language can most definitely be a barrier for all communication within a healthcare facility.
“At Tawam, we estimate that 80% of our professional nurses come from countries where English is not their native tongue or where English is spoken as a dual language. A minority of our professional nursing staff [38%] are native Arabic speakers. These figures illustrate opportunity for miscommunication in the workplace,” says McKenzie.
“There are many nurses that are bilingual or even multi lingual but I have found that some tend to use the English language in a literal sense which doesn’t always demonstrate good comprehension. This affects the understanding of messages given and received. The ability to speak effectively with Arabic speaking patients does impact patient satisfaction and care.”
Guaranteeing a safe working environment for nurses is an important element to managing diversity in the UAE healthcare workforce. McKenzie explains: “The professional nurse in the emirate of Abu Dhabi is required to be licensed by the Health Authority-Abu Dhabi (HAAD). A part of that licensure process requires the nurse to be in good standing from their native license home. Additionally, the nurse is required to have a thorough knowledge of the HAAD Professional Nurse Practice Act. While medical litigation is an emerging phenomenon in the UAE, professional nurses are typically covered by their employers in these situations. There is strength in this approach in that it provides the nurse a forum to have situations reviewed by peers and in a process that focuses on ‘systems’ rather than ‘individuals’. This framework, combined with hospital policies, health regulations, and external accrediting bodies helps to ensure a safe working environment for the professional nurse.”
The Abu Dhabi Medical Congress (ADMC) brings together leading international healthcare companies such as Abu Dhabi Health Services Company (SEHA), Mubadala, Al Noor Hospital, Religare & SRL Diagnostics and Stryker, to showcase the latest products and services within the Emergency, Primary Healthcare, Patient Safety, Rehabilitation and Dentistry sectors as well as being a platform for scientific exchange via the accompanying multi-track conference programme dedicated to these healthcare area.
For more information about the Nursing Conference at ADMC 2012, please call +971 (0)4 4072 743 or visit www.abudhabimed.com.
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Last updated on: 05/08/2012