Lived experience of Indonesian nurses in Japan: A phenomenological study



The movement of Indonesian nurses via a bilateral agreement with Japan has led to a substantial number of migrants to work as nurses in that nation’s healthcare system. The purpose of this research was to develop a deeper understanding of the meaningful experiences of Indonesian nurses while working in Japanese hospitals.


In this phenomenological study, sampling was purposive and was based on information shared by five Indonesian nurses. The data were collected in interviews; the analysis was thematic.


Six key themes were identified: (i) seeking better than before; (ii) communication challenges; (iii) the nursing examination as a culmination; (iv) differences in nursing practice; (v) cultural differences; and (vi) the benefits of living in developed country. Among these challenges, communication as the basis of shared meaning and understanding was viewed as a complex issue, by both patients and coworkers.


The results of this study call for further intervention in supporting Indonesian nurses living in Japan in their struggle with the issue of communication. The emphasis on language acquisition for personal and professional objectives, and the bridging of cultural differences as well, should be considered in an international context.

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A deskilling and challenging journey: the lived experience of Indonesian nurse returnees

A deskilling and challenging journey: the lived experience of Indonesian nurse returnees


  • Funding

    This research received a grant from Sumitomo Foundation, Japan. The funder had no involvement in research design, data collection, analysis and publication process.

  • Conflicts of interest

    The authors declare no potential conflicts of interest with respect to the research, authorship and/or publication of this article.



To illuminate the lived experiences of Indonesian nurses who previously worked as caregivers in Japanese residential care facilities, by exploring the journey of becoming returnees.


The creation of bilateral agreements between Indonesia and Japan has facilitated the movement of Indonesian nurses to work as caregivers in Japan since 2008. While this decision raised concerns with regard to the degradation of nursing skills, little is known about this issue from the perspective of nurse returnees and how the experience affects their life.


A hermeneutic phenomenological method was employed for this study. A purposive sample of 15 Indonesian nurse returnees participated in this study. Semi-structured interviews were conducted in four of Indonesia’s provinces between August and October 2015. Data were analysed thematically, supported by QSR NVIVO 10 software.


Four key themes emerged from the data analysis: (i) returning home; (ii) going back to zero; (iii) walking through a difficult journey; and (iv) overcoming barriers. These findings described the lived experiences of nurse returnees when they got back to the country of origin.


Indonesian nurse returnees experienced deskilling and struggled to re-enter the nursing profession or to find other non-nursing jobs. The significant impact of this migration on individual nurses with regard to maximizing the benefits of return migration deserves further investigation.

Implication for nursing and health policy

The Indonesian government, jointly with other stakeholders, should develop a brain gain strategy to align returnees’ expertise with the needs of the national labour market. The public-private partnership should be strengthened to utilize returnees in healthcare services.

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