A Qualitative Study on Challenges Chinese Nurses Face while Working in Japanese Hospitals

Jinmei Tuo1, 2, Mai Kabayama1, *, Kei Kamide1, Yoshinari Aimi2
1 Division of Health Sciences, Osaka University Graduate School of Medicine, Osaka, Japan
2 Department of Fundamental Nursing, Faculty of Nursing, Shiga University of Medical Science, Shiga, Japan

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© 2021 Tuo et al.

open-access license: This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Public License (CC-BY 4.0), a copy of which is available at: ( This license permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

* Address correspondence to this author at the Division of Health Science, Osaka University Graduate School of Medicine, 1-7 Yamadaoka, Suita, Osaka 565-0871, Japan; Tel: 81(Japan)-6-6879-2554; Fax: 81(Japan)-6-6879-2554;



Considering the increased numbers of Chinese nurses in Japan, we hypothesized that Chinese nurses in Japan are confronted with many difficulties, although few studies have been performed. Therefore, in-depth analyses of their experience to explore significant factors and aspects are required.


To clarify the problems and difficulties faced by Chinese nurses during their work and life in Japan and to address their future challenges.


We performed semi-structured interviews with 13 Chinese nurses working at 2 Japanese hospitals with Chinese and Japanese registered nurse licenses in 2017. We analyzed data using a qualitative inductive method.


We found that Chinese nurses were motivated to work at Japanese hospitals for several reasons. Many Chinese nurses working in Japan had difficulties with the language barrier, interpersonal relationships related to cultural differences, and loneliness in their daily life, and also experienced fewer opportunities for promotion than Japanese nurses and insufficient support from Japanese hospitals. Many Chinese nurses were anxious about their future in Japan. More than half did not have a clear future direction for their working life in Japan.


This study clarified the circumstances and difficulties of Chinese nurses working in Japan. One novel finding was that the main reason for their difficulties is due to their unknown career path and future workplace setting. Therefore, support for overcoming the language barrier and improving cultural understanding from hospitals is necessary to help nurses make better decisions based on their future plans.

Keywords: Chinese nurses, Cultural competency, Cultural diversity, Language skills, Career path, Mental health.