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Lives of Malawian nurses: stories behind the statistics

Grigulis, A.I.; (2011) Lives of Malawian nurses: stories behind the statistics. Doctoral thesis, UCL (University College London). Green open access

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Abstract

Malawi lost a significant proportion of its most experienced and qualified nurses to international migration between 2000 and 2005. The lure of overseas life and poor conditions of service at home caused an unprecedented wave of migration. This thesis is about the experiences and motivations of nurses who left Malawi, and of those who stayed behind. Using a qualitative biographical method to examine their experiences along a timeline of key life events, I develop a comprehensive picture of nurse migration. The findings show that nurses’ decisions and experiences have been shaped by demographic and political shifts and by a strong culture of family. Population growth has increased competition for higher education and caused a palpable shift in motives for becoming a nurse. Prospective students now see nurse training as a means to a guaranteed career, or to a marketable qualification which can lead to alternative employment. Working conditions have not improved despite numerous government initiatives, and nurses are still leaving for greener pastures. Many now move to Malawian Non-Governmental Organisations, but before 2005 nurses were able to take advantage of the United Kingdom’s (UK) active recruitment strategy. Most were motivated by the prospect of educational opportunities and the financial survival of their families, who often encouraged them because of the status accorded to migration. Whilst nurses in the UK were pleased with their lifestyle improvements, they found it challenging to integrate into society and the workplace. Many also found it difficult to achieve their educational and financial goals, and the stigma of returning to Malawi empty-handed led them to extend their stay. The enduring high status of migration and its unparalleled benefits mean that the desire to migrate is still strong amongst nurses, and many believe that the recent decline in migration is attributable only to tighter UK immigration restrictions.

Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Title:Lives of Malawian nurses: stories behind the statistics
Open access status:An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language:English
Additional information:The names and places of work of people included in this study have been changed.
UCL classification:UCL > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Population Health Sciences > Institute of Child Health > Department of Population Health Sciences > ICH - Centre for International Health and Development

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