More Than Just a Job ..

It was common for little girls and boys to want to be in the medical field during their childhood. Who wouldn’t? When I was a kid, it is almost expected to receive a “medical kit” toy. Stethoscope, sphygmomanometer, syringe and lots of other medical items in it. My friends and I would play hospital scenes all the time. It is almost guaranteed that when kids graduate from preparatory class, that they would want to be doctors, nurses, dentists, or even lawyers, engineers, anything that would add a few more letters after your name. Although, I couldn’t remember what I wanted to be at that time.

When it was time for me to decide what I wanted to be, I couldn’t. At first, I thought I wanted to be a lawyer, but my father wouldn’t allow me to study far from home, and law school is far from home. My mom, on the other hand, wanted me to be a nurse. She hinted on it before she passed a year before I graduated high school. In the nearby university where we live, the best degree one could get was nursing. I didn’t care at that time, I just wanted to have a degree, and so when I got accepted, I got into nursing.

Mid 90s isn’t different from the situation of the nurses today. There was not a lot of job for newly licensed nurses and it was difficult to get out of the country. I tried to stay in the field, but did something else for a while. Then most of our friends, one by one, left to go work abroad. That’s when I thought of really taking nursing seriously. So, I did. I figured out a way to leave the country. Back in the days when there was not a lot of agencies assisting nurses to find work abroad, I did my own research. I got my eligibility to take the board exams from California BON, took the NCLEX in Saipan, took the CGFNS in case I find an East Coast employer, took my IELTS and applied for my visa screen. All of this, I did on my own. When I have all the paperwork I need, it was not that difficult to find an agency that will hook me up with an employer because I have majority of the paperwork done. 3 years after I started working on finding a way to leave the country, in 2003, my petition was filed. It was music in my ears when they said that they could get my family in the US in 18 months. It was a lot of hard work, getting everything done, but it was all worth it. By late 2004, I was getting anxious with all the news on Retrogression. I didn’t know much of the details but bottom line was, it could delay my departure. The phone call I received from my agency confirmed that. They said, it could take 5-10 years. My world shattered, but I couldn’t sit and wait it out. I had to find another way!

Early 2005, I tried venturing on going to other countries. It was then when I stumbled upon job openings in Ireland. I don’t think it was coincidence, but God’s way, because in a few months after applying for the job, I was in a plane to Ireland. A country I didn’t even know exists. A country I do not know anybody in.

Beginnings are the hardest part they say. And it was. Filipinos are resilient though. They adapt, then they thrive. It was challenging, but I got over it. I was able to get my husband to join me 5 months after I left, and the kids wanted to stay in the Philippines and promised to be with me when it’s time for me to get to the US. That was the hardest part.

Just when I was getting very comfortable where I was, my agency contacted me to deliver good news. The US approved 50,000 visas for nurses. They said that I could probably get in depending on my priority date. So they wanted me to submit the final documentation and then wait to see if I get an interview date. It amazes me how God works sometimes. Here I was getting comfortable, changes everything to give you a choice to get out of your comfort zone and get into a new challenge. But who wouldn’t want to get to the land of milk and honey? Isn’t America the greatest dream of all Filipino nurses? We were blessed enough to get the immigrant visas and 2 years after Ireland, I am in a plane with my husband to sunny California.

So I start over again. It was with great ease this time because there are friends and family in the US unlike Ireland. The best part of it was that the family is once again whole! When I say great ease, it doesn’t mean that there is no hardship. It was easier than Ireland but yes, there were still a lot of challenges! Through God’s grace, we overcame. It’s almost 5 years since we set foot in the land of milk and honey, and God has been faithful. My husband, a nurse too, and I were able to provide for the needs of the family. We finally got our humble abode, the kids settled in their new life. It was a lot of struggle, but we did it.

Nursing is more than a job for us. It is a GIFT. A gift that God led me to 20 something years ago. A gift that helped me provide for my family, and a gift I can contribute to the community. Without all of the things I went through, I wouldn’t be the kind of person I am today — A NURSE. It is not a role cut out for everyone. It is a calling. I sure hope that my kids get the same calling too and pass on the legacy of caring for the sick and the vulnerable.

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  • Angel Esteban

    You are right that Nursing is more than just a job, not a role cut out for everyone. I always wanted to be become a doctor of medicine but due to poverty I ended doing business degrees as a working student. But my fascination of being a doctor remain, so much so that my first wife and my current wife are both nurses. Advanced technology (websites, tv shows and medical journals)helped me in fulfilling that dream, amazing my GP (General Practitioner) of my vast knowledge in said field using myself as guinea pig. My past 4 decades of managerial positions in business helped me financially, but my updated knowledge in medical field is instrumental in keeping myself fit and healthy at age 63. Roles in medical field these days are a very demanding, requiring patience, perseverange and dedication. I salute to all nurses, doctors, caregivers and others in said career. Congratulations.