Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository

Thesis Format

Monograph

Degree

Doctor of Philosophy

Program

Nursing

Supervisor

Dr. Mary-Anne Andrusyszyn

2nd Supervisor

Dr. Yolanda Babenko-Mould

Co-Supervisor

Abstract

Despite the increased number of students in the field of nursing, there is a great shortage of Saudi nurses in Saudi Arabia (SA). Cultural issues in SA have influenced the development of the nursing profession. For instance, it is not culturally acceptable for female nurses or nursing students to work for long hours and night shifts in a mixed-gender practice environment in SA. Thus, a large proportion of nursing students tend to look for positions other than working in hospital settings upon completion of their undergraduate degree. Pursuing graduate nursing education overseas is also viewed as a viable option. To date, research about the nursing profession or nursing education in SA has focused on the social attitudes attributed to the nursing profession, the challenges nursing students encounter during their undergraduate programs, and the difficulties Saudi nurses face in their practice environments. However, the experience of new nurses who chose to pursue graduate education in nursing instead of working in hospital settings has not been substantively studied and thus a gap exists in understanding this phenomenon.

This study was conducted using van Manen’s approach to hermeneutic phenomenology to understand the meaning embedded in the experiences of Saudi students in Canada. In this study, 13 Saudi nurses enrolled as students in nursing graduate degree programs in Canada were interviewed. They discussed their lived journey as graduate students, thus providing a deeper understanding of their experiences of acquiring a graduate nursing degree.

The following themes that encapsulated participants’ journey of acquiring graduate nursing education in Canada were revealed:Envisioning Possibilities, Transforming, and Re-envisioning. Students’ experiences were reflective of the image of an iceberg, in that what is visible did not reflect what students experienced. The surface or tip of the iceberg represented the taken for granted life of international students enrolled in a graduate program such as having an excellent scholarship that provided funding to cover tuition, daily expenses, and conferences. However, many aspects of students’ lives while acquiring a graduate nursing degree happened below the surface. For example, students reported several cultural and environmental factors that influenced their experiences. These factors were hidden and embedded beneath the surface, which existing literature fails to address. The findings provide nurse leaders, policy makers, educators, and administrators in higher education with insights about the challenging journey that Saudi students embark upon to continue their studies overseas.

Summary for Lay Audience

There is a great shortage of Saudi nurses in Saudi Arabia (SA) as a large proportion of nursing students tend to look for positions outside of hospital settings upon completing their undergraduate degree. Pursuing graduate nursing education overseas is one option Saudi students choose and it remains a central phenomenon that continues to shape the nursing profession in SA. Therefore, it is important that we learn more about what influences Saudi nurses’ decisions to pursue graduate education upon completing their undergraduate degree instead of working as nurses in practice. Little is known about the experiences of Saudi nurses enrolled in graduate nursing programs overseas.

In this study, 13 Saudi nurses enrolled in, or having recently completed, graduate nursing education in Canada were interviewed. The findings revealed that students’ journeys were complex and difficult. Students’ experiences were like an iceberg, what was above the water did not reflect the depth of what they experienced. The tip of the iceberg represented the typical, and perhaps, taken for granted life of international students enrolled in a graduate program. An example is the scholarship which provided generous funding that covered tuition, daily expenses, and conferences.

Beneath the surface, however, was the larger iceberg. Researchers realized that the tip of each iceberg represented only a small portion of graduate students’ experiences. Most factors that influenced their experiences were hidden and embodied beneath the surface. These experiences are presented and analyzed in this thesis.

The findings provide nurse leaders, policy makers, educators, and administrators in higher education with insights about the challenging journey that Saudi students embark upon to continue their studies overseas.

Available for download on Wednesday, September 01, 2021

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