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Errr? Kia ora?: International doctors struggle with “code-switching”

Summarised by Centrist

Being less direct and using more te reo seems to be part of the message from the new study “International doctors struggle with cultural adaptation” on the difficulties those doctors encounter while adjusting to NZ’s cultural nuances.

The research published in BMC Medical Education finds that code-switching – consciously adapting one’s behaviour to match cultural expectations – can lead to stress, loss of identity, and social isolation among international doctors. 

Despite orientation to the health system including an intro to Te Tiriti o Waitangi and Māori customs, many doctors said they were unprepared for the wider New Zealand culture. Many note that they had to “sugar coat” things to avoid offending Kiwis. 

According to another doctor that was interviewed: 

“You know that the person might be who’s in front of you, but actually that person is, is the kind of tip of a very large iceberg of other people who are also involved. And if you don’t involve those people, then you’re missing something … you know, that model of practising medicine is unusual for me.” 

Yet, some doctors interviewed came from cultural backgrounds where, for example, having the wider family present was a familiar practice as may be common with Māori patients’ whanau. 

Read more over at Stuff

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