FACTORS INFLUENCING EMIRATIS’ CHOICES FOR HEALTHCARE CAREERS
The core aim of this study was to determine the factors that influence Emiratis’ choices for healthcare careers as well as propose viable initiatives through which the number of Emiratis pursuing healthcare careers can be increased. In this regard, the research sought to meet three research objectives: (i) to identify the factors that influence Emiratis’ choices for healthcare careers; (ii) to investigate the key challenges encountered by healthcare workers in the UAE; and (iii) to propose viable initiatives through which the number of Emiratis pursuing healthcare careers can be increased. The above-stated research aim was guided by the worrying low number of health workers, particularly doctors and nurses, of UAE origin (UAE nationals account for less than 10% and 20% of the country’s physicians and nurses workforce (Ibrahim et al., 2016; Informa, 2016). Besides the above identified research problem, there was a major literature gap concerning what generally impacts people’s choices for healthcare careers and more so in the Arab/ Muslims setting. In particular, my interest to investigate what influences Emiratis career decision-making, specifically for healthcare professions, was in this thesis cultivated out of the conviction that the current theories of career choice are too broad and they are based on findings made in studies carried out in non-Islamic/ Arabic religious and cultural settings such as the UAE. As a result, I considered their applicability in the UAE context questionable. For the set research objectives to be met, a qualitative research approach was used based on grounded theory principles. In this case, a sample of 36 respondents was purposefully selected, and it comprised of high school students, college medical and nursing students, nurses and doctors, healthcare administrators, as well as officials from the UAE Ministry of health and that of education. The intended data was primarily collected through in-depth interviews and it was analysed using the constant comparative data analysis method. In this case, the data collection and analysis exercises took place simultaneously. With respect to the aspect of factors that influence Emiratis’ choices for healthcare careers, an emergent theory of healthcare career choice was developed, which identifies and explains the several factors that influence Emiratis’ choices for healthcare careers. From the emergent theory, Emiratis’ choices for healthcare careers are influenced by numerous factors that fall under six substantive categories: parental and family influences, personal interest and passion, role models, gender, cultural, and religious factors. Nevertheless, personal interest and passion, as well as parental and family influences have the greatest impact on the Emiratis’ choices for healthcare careers. Low remuneration, lack of benefits (allowances and bonuses), high workload and long working hours, inadequate specialisation and training opportunities in the country, insufficient access to training, as well as poor organisational climate were also found to be the main challenges encountered by UAE healthcare workers. As a result, based on the findings and conclusions derived in this study concerning the challenges encountered by healthcare workers in the UAE, the emergent theory of factors influencing Emiratis’ choices for healthcare careers, as well as the recommendations made by the respondents, the current crisis of low number of healthcare workers of UAE origin may be solved through two main techniques. The techniques include: one, sensitising Emiratis about healthcare careers through outreach programs and any other initiative that can be effective in reaching out to the locals. The second technique may involve addressing the challenges facing the UAE healthcare sector, mainly the issues of poor remuneration, overworking, lack of training facilities, and poor working conditions. This thesis has three core contributions to the previously existing empirical and theoretical literature. The first and the main contribution of this study is that it has enriched the available literature concerning the factors influencing people's choices for careers, specifically in the healthcare context. The second core contribution of this study can be attributed to the research method or approach used in this study. As discussed later in this thesis, employing a grounded theory approach gave room for the introduction of new insights about the research topic since the researcher was open to new ideas based on the primary data collected from the field. The third contribution of this study is the development of a model or framework that clearly explains what influences Emiratis’ choices for healthcare careers and how. The model can be applied in other Arab-dominated countries such as in the Middle East, though there is a need for testing the theory developed in this study using a quantitative or a hybrid of quantitative and qualitative research approach as explained later in this study.
- PhD