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

Author information

Institute of Allied Health Sciences, College of Medicine, National Cheng Kung University, Tainan, Taiwan.
Center for Planning and Management of Human Resources for Health, The Board for Development and Empowerment of Human Resources for Health (BPPSDMK), Ministry of Health, Jakarta, Indonesia.
Department of Nursing, Institute of Gerontology, Institute of Allied Health Sciences, National Cheng Kung University, Tainan, Taiwan.
Faculty of Nursing, Airlangga University, Surabaya, Indonesia.
Graduate School of Social and Cultural Studies, Kyushu University, Japan.



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.


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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