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Work with International Healthcare Colleagues

Work with International Healthcare Colleagues

John Rossheim, Monster Senior Contributing Writer

Immigrant workers are important contributors to the US healthcare system. Some 13 percent of healthcare employees in the US — or 1.1 million — are from other countries, according to a report from the American Immigration Law Foundation. More than 11 percent of registered nurses, 25 percent of physicians and nearly 15 percent of pharmacists in the US are immigrants.

Being part of a multicultural staff with its mixture of nationalities, cultures and training backgrounds presents a series of challenges and opportunities. These 10 tips will help you work effectively in the multinational environment of today’s healthcare organizations.

Remember: You’re More Alike

When it comes to how you want to be treated and how you want to treat patients, you and your diverse coworkers probably have more similarities than differences. “The values of foreign-trained healthcare professionals are very similar,” says Mireille Kingma, a consultant on nursing and health policy at the International Council of Nurses and author of Nurses on the Move: Migration and the Global Health Care Economy. For example, nurses from many countries are willing to go out on a limb for their patients, even occasionally questioning the wisdom of physicians’ orders.

Show Them the Ropes

Help your coworker when he needs it most. “Migrant workers can be — for a certain period — disoriented and more vulnerable to exploitation by employers,” Kingma says. Your help when your coworker needs it will likely engender personal and professional loyalty, which can come in handy when you need to swap shifts or seek feedback on handling a difficult patient, for example.

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