Migration for welfare (WELLMIG) Nurses within three regimes of immigration and integration into the Norwegian welfare state

Experiences of a Polish nurse in Norway

Elzbieta Gozdziak has read Beata Babiarczyk's account of her four-year sojourn as a nurse in Norway.

Book coverEvery research project requires intensive field research as well as extensive reading. In addition to peer-reviewed literature, we are also reading popular accounts of migrant nurses’ experiences in Norway. After all, in this ethnographic study we are trying to uncover the insiders’ points of view.

Beata Babiarczyk worked in Bergen for four years in the early 2000s. Between 2000 and 2002, she published short dispatches from the field in a nursing and midwifery periodical. In 2007, these letters were published in a small volume titled Norwegian Memoir (Pamiętnik Norweski).

In the memoir, Beata narrates her professional migration journey. We learn about hear tearful departure from Poland and a dramatic arrival in Bergen—three plane rides, horrific turbulence, and a lost luggage—as well as the mundane details of working in a Norwegian hospital on a post-operative ward.

Beata shares her awe of Norwegian nursing equipment, her surprise at the truly collaborative partnership between doctors and nurses, the mutual respect doctors and nurses accord each other, and the comradery among all hospital staff.

These positives, however, could not keep Beata in Norway forever. She made a decision to return to Poland. She cites her love of her native land as the main reason for her return. But while she now lives mostly in Poland, she returns to Norway to work there during summers. Beata is cognizant of her privilege of being able to continue to work in Bergen from time to time. She realizes this privilege every time she listens to her nursing friends in Poland who barely make ends meet on their meager salaries.

Beata’s account of her four-year sojourn in Norway is not a candidate for the Nobel Prize in literature, but it is a delightful little book that seems to be appreciated by her fellow nurses (and our research team). We plan to interview Beata this fall to see how she is doing in her teaching job training student nurses. Stay tuned!

By Elzbieta Gozdziak

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