Challenges and experiences of overseas qualified nurses adjusting to new roles and health care systems: A narrative review of the literature

Maya Ebrahimi Zanjani, Tahereh Ziaian, Sandra Ullrich

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearch


Nursing workforce shortages are an increasing challenge for health care systems, health planners, and scholars worldwide. This paper provides a background to the shortage of Qualified Nurses worldwide and in Australia and discusses the key challenges for Overseas Qualified Nurses (OQNs) in adjusting to new healthcare systems including the influence of culture, language and communication, health care practice and technology, and differences in Registered Nurse (RN) roles.
Method: A narrative review presents a synthesis of the literature to understand issues related to OQNs and their adjustment experiences, both globally and in the Australian context.
Results: Most OQNs are from developing countries where healthcare systems are very different from those of developed countries, and being a nurse from a Non-English-Speaking Background (NESB) makes adjustment even more challenging. The integration of OQNs into the Australian healthcare system has not received adequate attention, from either the research community or the healthcare industry. This is a significant gap given that OQNs come mainly from developing countries.
Conclusion: OQNs face numerous barriers to adjustment into their new workplace and community. This is a significant gap given that OQNs come mainly from developing countries. For many of them, aged care will be a completely new employment area and the role of aged care RN will be quite different from that of a hospital or acute care RN.
Organisational support plays a critical role in smoothing the adjustment of OQNs and, in turn, this influences other aspects of their life and consequently their psychological health.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)7-16
Number of pages10
JournalSingapore Nursing Journal
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - May 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • qualified nurses
  • nurses
  • international
  • overseas
  • developed countries

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