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When preparing to move to the US for your nursing career, it’s normal to become preoccupied with the application process but forget to prepare for the real-life adjustments that await you. 

Americans have their own ways of feeding, expressing emotions, and interacting, which could differ from what you’re used to. 

Taking some time to learn about cultural differences keeps you in the loop and shows you how things are done. This knowledge can save you from uncomfortable situations and help reduce the variety of surprises that lie ahead on your journey. 

What follows is some information you’ll need to prepare for your residency in the US. Let’s dive in to keep you informed, ready, and set.  

Facing the Biggest Cultural Differences: What to Expect as a USRN 

Not having a clear picture of what to expect when going down a new path could be nerve-wracking. Here’s what you need to know

1. Communication  

The US is a mostly English-speaking country. According to the latest report by the US census bureau¹, more than 80 percent of the population speak English, although there are differences in the accents and expressions used in different regions. Even if you are a good English speaker, if you’ve never lived in the US, things like salutations, banter, and slang may be different from what you know. This could be a potential hurdle. 

You might be surprised to find that Americans don’t usually use “Sir”, “Madame”, or “Ma’am” when talking to people. You can even call a person much older than you by name and it would be acceptable. 

In more formal settings, calling a person “Mr.” or “Ms.” followed by their last name is practiced but not carved in stone; more informal expressions such as “hey”, “hi”, “hello”, or “what’s up?” can be used when greeting people, be they friends, colleagues, or even just acquaintances. 

2. Community  

Blending in might take a while, and it’s not unusual. Don’t worry, there are friendly people in the US who do make small talk with strangers. However, they also tend to value personal space. Physical contact such as hugging or kissing on the cheeks may not be an option in many cases. 

In the Philippines, kissing on the cheek is a common form of greeting, saying goodbye, or expressing gratitude, particularly among friends and sometimes even with people whom you’ve just met. The practice known as “beso-beso” which involves lightly touching cheeks, or “mano” which is taking an elder’s hand and touching it to your forehead are common forms of greetings. This is not the case in the US so be careful when greeting people. 

A handshake or a simple “hello” is a more common way of greeting, especially in a formal setting. This doesn’t mean that hugs or kisses on the cheeks aren’t acceptable. Cultural norms can vary widely depending on the region, community, or social context, so you need to observe more. 

In terms of conversation, you’ll be a lot safer and less awkward when you talk about neutral topics. You can also connect well by sharing your personal experiences and opinions but generally try to avoid controversial or sensitive topics that could lead to conflict or disagreement. Try to avoid sports or American politics because some Americans can be fanatical about these subjects. 

3. Food 

Filipino cuisine is unique and flavorful, with a wide range of dishes influenced by various cultures. In the US, you may not readily have access to your favorite or comfort foods. While there are Filipino restaurants and grocery stores in many US cities, the availability of ingredients and the way the food is prepared may be different from what you’re used to. Even if you get a favorite traditional shopping spot, the prices may be on the high side. To reduce the risk of nostalgia, try to accept new cuisines. You might even find some new favorite dishes. 

4. Climate  

In the Philippines, you’re probably used to a tropical climate with two distinct seasons, wet and dry. However, the US has a much more diverse range of climates due to its large size and varied geography. The country is located in the Northern Hemisphere and as such, experiences four distinct seasons: winter, spring, summer, and fall. The climate can vary widely depending on the region, with some areas experiencing hot and humid summers, while others, cold and snowy winters. 

In general, the southern regions of the US have a subtropical climate, characterized by hot and humid summers and mild winters. The western regions of the US tend to have a more arid or desert-like climate, with hot summers and mild winters. The northern regions of the US tend to have a more temperate or continental climate, with cold winters and mild summers. To ensure you’re not caught off guard, tailor your clothing purchases and self-care practices to suit the climate of the city you’ll be living in. 

Your Go-to Solution to Stay Ready and Set for Your New Nursing Career in the US

If you’re wondering how to begin planning, or overcome the hurdles of relocation, the answer is to work together with a competent team of experts that cares about you and your progress. Here’s how PRS Global can help: 

  • Language Training: PRS Global offers language training to help you overcome communication barriers, especially if English is not your first language. Depending on your needs, we engage translators and interpreters or connect you with training classes. 
  • Community Engagement: At PRS Global, we believe that engagement can further help you feel more comfortable and confident in your nursing practice. That’s why we prioritize helping our candidates breach social gaps by connecting you with local communities and cultural organizations that hold a deep understanding of diversity. 
  • Pre-Arrival Support: Our pre-arrival support is structured to help you prepare for your move to the US. You won’t have to worry about getting information on housing, transportation, climate change, and other matters that may affect your stay. 
  • Mentorship and Support: PRS Global ensures that you never feel alone, so we provide mentorship and support to assist you in navigating the challenges of cultural adjustment. From personalized interaction with our professionals as well as connecting you with experienced nurses or other healthcare professionals who can provide advice and support, we’ve got you covered. 

The Mind Plays a Part

Instead of worrying that you won’t be able to eat your favorite comfort food, consider it an opportunity to try new foods. In the same way, consider the language barrier as a chance to learn a new language, or a social interaction gap as a chance to further practice networking with others. 

Being open-minded and having a positive outlook are key components of deliberately preparing your mind. This gives you the ability to be ready to adjust appropriately and ensures that you never consider jumping ship on your new nursing career path. 

MAKE PRS GLOBAL YOUR GUIDE TO A SUCCESSFUL TRANSITION  

Are you wondering how to get ready for your new nursing career in the United States? Do you want to work with a skilled team to make your preparation process a smooth sail? We are PRS Global and we got you covered. 

Our main goal is to create a smooth transition for you to settle into your new career path in the US. We are at your service to provide you with the necessary support to get you acclimated. 

We provide you with amazing services that never stop caring about your progress even after being hired. 

Get in touch today!  

References: 

  1. United States Census Bureau. “Language Spoken at Home”. https://www.census.gov/acs/www/about/why-we-ask-each-question/language/. Accessed March 16, 2023.