Dissertation Research - Searching for Respect: Czech Nurses in the Global Economy


[Abstract 8/25/12] My dissertation research, based on ethnographic fieldwork in the Czech Republic, examines global healthcare migration centered in Eastern Europe.  I specifically focus on how women professionals from the Czech Republic use migration activities to find belonging, and therefore, self-worth and respect, in different spheres of their lives.  I consider this an inquiry into globalization using migration as the lens.  Founded on globalization theory, I approach migration, or the movement of people, as yet one more social process that has been transformed in the current era of globalization.  I find that large parts of the post-socialist Czech healthcare system retain a culture of disrespect for human dignity that is reflected daily in patient care and co-worker camaraderie, as well as systemically in opportunities for professional development and healthcare financing.  Czech recruiters exploit these stagnant conditions and represent international healthcare migration as a means to increased social and financial capital for migrants.  Analysis reveals that Czech nurses increasingly take advantage of recruiters’s services.  Sensing a frustration with the lack of professionalism in the Czech healthcare system, as well as the general status of nurses in the national discourse, I claim that nurses seek migration opportunties as a way to promote personal and professional respect.  This is especially evident in levels of self-worth, as demonstrated through increased confidence gained during the pre-migration processing and migration experiences.  Although pre-migration training helps to build confidence and worth, individuals are actually transformed into ”global nurses” capable of success on the global market through experience in that market.  Finally, the level of success as a migrant directly correlates to levels of confidence and sense of self-worth which leads to the ability to more fully participate and feel a sense of belonging in their national and professional communities.  The study of Czech nurses who seek another locale in which to practice an ideology of care based on human dignity and professionalism demonstrates how migration and the global economy provide women with opportunities, agency and empowerment in post-socialist Central Eastern Europe.


2011. Producing Transnational Nurses: Agency and subjectivity in global health care labor migration recruitment practices. Special issue, “Health and Care Work in Postsocialist Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union,” Anthropology of East Europe Review.  29(1):94-108.

2010. Creating migrant nurses: How recruitment firms create successful migrants for the global market. Durham Anthropology Journal 17(1):87-106.

2007. Nursing New Ambition in the Czech Republic. REEIfication 30(1):3.