Indian nurses face racial harassment

Two new studies, one done in the U.S. and the other in the U.K., document the systematic discrimination against Indian (mostly Mallu) nurses. From Indolink:

The author says that the [U.S.] study ‘underscores the continuing inequities of our health care system’ and concludes that the challenge is to establish a more just and effective environment for those who provide health care.

As one of the nurses said, “I have proven myself over and over. What do we have to do to get recognized? What makes me mad is I would never have been able to do all the things I have done if I had stayed in India…We own a house, my children have gone to college, and yet…here, I feel like I don’t belong.”

Another commented: “I have not been treated badly, but I know I am not treated the same as the other White nurses…”

An Indian nurse with 26 year’s experience observed: “I think I am in the middle…White is the top and Black is the bottom.”

The British study notes similar conclusions:

The British study by Michael Shields and Stephen Price, and entitled ‘Racial Harassment…Evidence from the British Nursing Profession,’ defines racial harassment as behavior towards the individual nurse that is perceived to be ‘difficult, aggressive or hostile’ on the grounds of race or color.

This study confirms that nurses from South Asia are victims of racial harassment from hospital staff as well as patients. Furthermore, the study reveals that South Asian nurses are likely to experience abuse on a frequent basis. More than half of the Indian nurses reported having been the victim of racial harassment by patients or their families during their working lives.

14 thoughts on “Indian nurses face racial harassment

  1. I certainly believe there is racism in the medical community, because the medical community is just a reflection of the larger society. But without reading the studies, and looking at them in a detailed fashion, the story linked to doesn’t tell me much. It sounds like this is a survey of attitudes (‘have you ever felt discrimination’ is a very subjective question, without more qualifiers). Without seeing the specific incidents detailed, it’s hard to know what the ‘true’ incidence of racism is.

    I knew of an Indian resident who was at Cook County where he said some rounds were held in Hindi (cause they were all Indian trained physicians). That same resident felt really uncomfortable around non Indian physicians in environments where I felt perfectly comfortable (but then I grew up and trained here, so I may be treated differently because of that or maybe I just feel comfortable because it’s my home. I felt uncomfortable when I visited a med school in India).

    I don’t notice physicians being treated differently in the environment I work in, but then pathology has always had a lot of foreign born physicians practicing in the US.

    Also, how you act will determine how you will be treated. I see the same thing with women, who are to quiet and unassuming at work and don’t ask for more raises or whatever, and then complain that they are treated differently.

    Still quite disturbing if even a fraction of it is true.

  2. comparing doctors to nurses is inappropriate IMO; i’ve never known a situation where doctors didn’t receive far more respect than nurses do. i am not surprised that the good doctor responds with skepticism to this post.

    i am especially not surprised that her final point takes the “let’s not forget that we might need to blame the victim” approach…how does she know how every individual nurse acts? she doesn’t. comparing nurses to “the quiet women” she knows who doesn’t ask for a raise is full of assumptions…but hey, at least she finishes with a very qualified (“IF even”) pronouncement of how it would be disturbing. how kind.

    take it from someone who knows– that IF isn’t necessary. the second-class treatment exists, and it IS disturbing. especially when it comes not just from patients, but from other indian doctors who look down on nurses from their homeland with the same disdain that this post describes. see: nytimes article on caste for similar stupidity.

    no, not ALL doctors do this…but sadly, i’ve yet to meet one who doesn’t.

  3. I’m w/ MD on this one…. It wouldn’t shock me if there was some racial discimination going on in the workplace BUT, this study (or at least the portions of it reported in the article) are FAR FROM conclusive.

    “I feel like I donÂ’t belong”?? It’s sad but NOT prima facie evidence of some huge racial conspiracy. In fact, the study even hints while social alienation may be at play, where the rubber hits the road – $$$ – there’s meritocracy & choice -

    The study goes on to suggest that the anguish of racism and oppression was countered by the material rewards these women obtained.

    Paraphrasing Jesse Jackson – “they may be oppressed but they are well-dressed.”

  4. From reading the article, it does not seem that the American ‘study’ was as much of a scientific study than of a documentary in academic-paper format. There were no statistics, no surveys; just interviews and anecdotal evidence. This is conclusive of no more than the fact that the people interviewed have had difficulties stemming from racism, which the author of the study means to extrapolate to Indian nurses at large. It does not give cold hard facts, but instead seems meant to raise awareness.

    The British study is based on a survey that seems as if it were given to all nurses, and the information about nurses from Indian descent was pulled from that.

    I dont think it’s enough to say ‘vast racial conspiracy’ but also the fact that people are interested in this topic enough to DO studies – qualitative or quantitative – is evidence in itself that there is an issue here that needs to be looked into.

  5. please…

    what is the statistical evidence for discrimination? are they actually getting paid less? I know E & S Asian doctors make more money on average than whites in the US…would be surprising to see the opposite hold for Indians.

    If you start out looking for “discrimination” with a low bar you’re going to find it. I want to see hard evidence of people with equivalent qualifications being turned down for jobs, with the control being white applicants to jobs governed by Indians. I want to see substantial salary discrepancies for controlled professional qualifications before I start appealing to “racism” to explain outcome differences.

    And I definitely want to see how whites are treated by browns as a control. In the US, all these studies intended to find thoughtcrime among whites never have blacks as employers or Asians as employers/employees…because the prejudgment is that a) whites are the only employers and b) only whites can be racist.

    If Indians reject whites at a rate similar to the rate whites reject Indians, again it’s a very different story from the tiresome “whites are racist” conclusion.

  6. hello nurse,

    I responded with skepticism because of the data presented. And, you know, I’m tired of this ‘doc’s are treated better than nurses’ thing that gets trotted out everytime. Do some docs act like jerks to some nurses? Sure they do. And shame on them for it. They should be disciplined.

    Ask any new intern how they are treated by the nurses on the floor…..or as medical students. You can be nice and polite and still get your head chewed off.

    As for blaming the victim: when was I doing that? Without having a proper study, how am I do judge these claims? I most certainly am not blaming the victim. To do that, I’d have to have a better idea of who the victims are.

  7. I know E & S Asian doctors make *more* money on average than whites in the US…would be surprising to see the opposite hold for Indians.

    Can you point me to that info?

    If Indians reject whites at a rate similar to the rate whites reject Indians, again it’s a very different story from the tiresome “whites are racist” conclusion.

    Maybe it’s those angry ethnic activists leftists at work again.

  8. the fact that people are interested in this topic enough to DO studies – qualitative or quantitative – is evidence in itself that there is an issue here that needs to be looked into

    Call me a cynic, but it’s worth noting that it’s rather “profitable” these days for certain folks to go around making loud charges about racism / discrimination / etc. (trial lawyers, ethnic activists, community leaders, etc.)

  9. I would very much like to see a study of on the profitability of making loud accusations of racism, and for a control a study of the same regarding reverse racism. I suspect a growth field in being a spokesperson for organizations getting slammed for racist behaviors — like Denny’s. I’ve gotten some very nice offers to appear in brochures for Regent Law, aka Biblical Law.

  10. sluggo,

    here is one from the mid 90′s. I don’t think the #’s have changed much:

    WASHINGTON (AP) — Immigrant professionals are getting higher-paying jobs than native-born Americans in hospitals, universities and other institutions, as Asians outdistance whites in many professions, according to a new study. The census-based study found more foreign-born Indian doctors than native-born black doctors, with striking disparity in median salaries among racial groups. And it found significantly larger proportions of Asian and white professionals than either blacks or Hispanics… The highest paid of any foreign-born group analyzed separately is Korean doctors, who have a median income of dlrs 101,000, the report said. Indian physicians ranked second at dlrs 82,205. It said 14,000 foreign-born Asian professionals earn more than dlrs 150,000 a year from their professions.

    as for the rest, well, yeah…angry ethnic leftists are the problem, particularly when they constantly blame whitey even when no provable racism exists and even when browns discriminate against whites as well.

  11. Maybe I’m not understanding this correctly, but there are no provable cases of whitey committing racism, but there are provable cases of brown’s discrimnating against whitey. Despite all your bellyaching about provable stat’s, you can’t say that asian’s discriminate against others and not be able to say that there isn’t any discernable discrimination by white, black, or other ethnic groups discriminating against each other. Besides there’s little bit a of racist in everybody; as to how much this influences a person’s life and prejudices their viewpoints varies.

  12. Those that act so negatively against such studies are those that do not wish to have the whole picture discovered. Usually this is done by the majority/native population regardless of colour.

    If there is no racism then this will be identified by the reports. I dont understand this lefty righty nonsense, these are just more labels used by those not intellectually equipped to think at the level required to make a rational non bigoted opinion

  13. whatsoever the controversy is but if there is a problem of such just check it and chuck it out folks. dont start the war of discrimination again. we are from this beautiful & colourful world let us work together and live together. Due to globalisation everyone goes global and everyone is in one family “human” family. lets live for world peace and save this universe.

  14. It’s interesting to note how so many people ask “where is the evidence” when confronted with the issue of discrimination. I am guessing these same individuals would have asked the messiah “show me a miracle before I believe”.

    It’s the start of an arrogance which allows murders and rapists to get off free because the case doesn’t appear to be watertight or because they think it will never hold up in court. Unfortunately from my own experience discrimination in the UK is rampant and always has been. Even more worrying is the fact that discrimination is legal and there is nothing you can do about it. I know from a recent court appearance.