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Type: Journal article
Title: 'Newness-struggle-success' continuum: a qualitative examination of the cultural adaptation process experienced by overseas-qualified dentists in Australia
Author: Balasubramanian, M.
Brennan, D.
Spencer, A.
Short, S.
Citation: Australian Health Review, 2016; 40(2):168-173
Publisher: CSIRO Publishing
Issue Date: 2016
ISSN: 0156-5788
Statement of
Madhan Balasubramanian, David S. Brennan, A. John Spencer, Stephanie D. Short
Abstract: Objectives: Overseas-qualified dentists constitute a significant proportion of the Australian dental workforce (approximately one in four). The aim of the present study was to provide a better understanding of the cultural adaptation process of overseas-qualified dentists in Australia, so as to facilitate their integration into the Australian way of life and improve their contribution to Australian healthcare, economy and society. Methods: Life stories of 49 overseas-qualified dentists from 22 countries were analysed for significant themes and patterns. We focused on their settlement experience, which relates to their social and cultural experience in Australia. This analysis was consistent with a hermeneutic phenomenological approach to qualitative social scientific research. Results: Many participants noted that encounters with ‘the Australian accent’ and ‘slang’ influenced their cultural experience in Australia. Most of the participants expressed ‘fascination’ with the people and lifestyle in Australia, primarily with regard to the relaxed way of life, cultural diversity and the freedom one usually experiences living in Australia. Few participants expressed ‘shock’ at not being able to find a community of similar religious faith in Australia, as they are used to in their home countries. These issues were analysed in two themes; (1) language and communication; and (2) people, religion and lifestyle. The cultural adaptation process of overseas-qualified dentists in Australia is described as a continuum or superordinate theme, which we have entitled the ‘newness–struggle–success’ continuum. This overarching theme supersedes and incorporates all subthemes. Conclusion: Family, friends, community and organisational structures (universities and public sector) play a vital role in the cultural learning process, affecting overseas-qualified dentist’s ability to progress successfully through the cultural continuum
Keywords: Dental workforce; integration; migration policy; qualitative research
Rights: Journal compilation © AHHA 2016
DOI: 10.1071/AH15040
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Dentistry publications

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