Monash University
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The perceptions and experiences of nursing in Saudi Arabia

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posted on 2017-02-17, 02:22 authored by Alhetheli, Fahad Abdullah
Little is known about the issues faced by Saudi nurses in Saudi Arabia. In Saudi Arabia, only 20 per cent of nurses are Saudi citizens. Nursing is able to attract but not retain nurses and the level of education is not meeting world standards. The impact on the population is that foreigners who do not understand the Saudi culture are providing care, which, although technically adequate, is not able to meet all needs. Adding to the problem is the fact that nurses have little control over their practice or education and are currently powerless to make changes. Until now, there has been minimal research exploring the experience of being a Saudi nurse. To address this gap, this research has begun to uncover the experiences of Saudi Nurses and explore their needs, based on their perceptions of themselves and their understanding of their development and practice as professional nurses. Using a Husserlian philosophy and following the framework of van Manen (1990), a hermeneutic phenomenological approach was applied. A semi-structured interview was used to collect data from 17 Saudi nurses who each had at least five years’ nursing experience. These nurses were from the Eastern, Northern, Central and Western regions and included five male and 12 female nurses. The participants’ experiences highlighted that Saudi nurses have many significant problems. Two major classifications emerged from the participant’s perceptions: sociocultural factors and organisational paradoxes. Sociocultural factors relate to external pressures that Saudi nurses face, while organisational paradoxes relate to problems regarding the internal structure of nursing organisations. The participants’ perceptions of themselves as nurses included not only views about education, nursing practice and the management of nursing organisations, but also involved their views on the behaviour of society towards the nursing profession. Findings from this research reveal a sociocultural paradigm that still culturally segregates being a nurse from being a Muslim. In general, social support and organisational commitment is lacking in nursing. The commitment of nursing organisations towards nursing education, practice and management is perceived by the nurses interviewed as not reflecting the cultural values and principles of Islam, because the intentional aspect of Islamic law is ignored. This affects the working conditions of nurses and the status of being a nurse. As a result, Saudi nurses, instead of experiencing nursing as a rewarding career characterised by the caring ideals of Islam, are unsatisfied in their profession. The perceived needs of Saudi nurses are extensive and their lived experiences reveal disempowerment and neglect. The result is that Saudi nurses are leaving their profession at a time when Saudisation is pushing for a greater percentage of Saudi citizens in nursing. The findings of this study, and an examination of related research, point to strategies and recommendations to facilitate the development of nursing practice, management and education in Saudi Arabia, so that the perceived critical condition of Saudi nursing can be turned around.


Principal supervisor

Joy Lyneham

Additional supervisor 1

Camillus Parkinson, Rosemary Clerehan

Year of Award


Department, School or Centre

School of Nursing and Midwifery

Campus location



Doctor of Philosophy

Degree Type



Faculty of Medicine Nursing and Health Sciences