Social Decadence

Filipino nurses are grounded by the code of ethics, which places the value of life, respect, competence, duties and responsibilities, and dignity as its foundation. These are the common words resounding in the code. It encompasses all the areas in the nursing profession. However, there is one thing diverse from these words. The code speaks of what the nurse can give to the people, the practice, his co-workers, the society and the environment, and finally the profession. It never touched on the aspect of what the profession can give to a nurse. A nurse who lives in a far away place serving the most remote area the profession has ever seen; who has obligations to take care of patients no matter how many they are or how safe the place is; and yet, paid below what is just. Where is the value of equality? Egalitarianism? Is it ethically just to let a nurse work beyond her time and pay less?

There is that ethical decadence in this code. We look only at one side of the coin; we have not seen the saddening truth—the truth that most nurses are abused ethically. We always instill that nurses should be advocates of their patients but let me ask you, who is the advocate of the nurse when she is put to work more than what she is paid for? Who stands by her when she is sick or needs a counselor? None I tell you. This is the harsh truth for nurses. WE are obliged but no code obliges anyone to help the nurses justly. Now who is ethically deprived of their right to life, respect, and dignity? Although, the Nursing act of 2002 guarantees a fair salary for nurses but then again, is it being implemented? The answer is NO. Our volunteer nurses, although they were not obliged to give their services, they give it in exchange of a certificate of training not of a working experience; they are being dishonored in ways that are unjust and ill.

Some would surely disagree with what I have inferred. They would even argue that “when you enrolled in school for nursing you have been taught the obligations for a client that you should follow and what consequences you will face if these are not met”. Let me ask you once more, who have the obligations to treat us justly? Who will face the consequences if these obligations to us are not met? These are just some of the many things nurses are being abused of.

I fear for those nurses who are working in far flung areas, they are in grave danger more than we in the suburb. Some would say in the native tongue “Jalo ya kansaw pero si mira tamen tu el maga risas del maga niños y el maga jente que ta rindi gracias con el maga nars, bastante ya gayod para quita el cansanya del trabajo” (Bahala na kahit nakakapagod kasi kung nakikita mo yung tawa sa mga bata at ang mga tao na taos-pusong nagpapasalamat sa ating mga nars, sapat na iyon upang mapawi ang pagod sa trabaho). Indeed, it quenches the sore on our soles and hands having to hear this kind of praise but will it last for a lifetime to feed our crumbling stomachs? Will it turn into money to send our future children to school?

A code is to be followed no matter what because it is what we have pledged for. However, what is being imposed is not necessarily ethical and what is ethical is not necessarily being imposed. There are two sides of a coin; one must flip it over to see the other side. Think, reflect, and deflect.

Esse Quam Videri.

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  • Ben

    That’s so true It happened to me In exchange for not paying me I agree to work overtime in exchange for an extra day off my boss promise me I will get it by November November ended she said December didn’t get that day off reason is staff shortage where’s the fairness in there I was used and abused well one day I will just call in sick where it is very busy

    • I don’t think that would make things “fair” or any better on your part; It’s hardly a promise if it’s not in writing with his signature and the date affixed to it – it’s a bit too much, people would say… but people LOVE denying promises. :/

  • Well written article with a smooth flow of thought. 🙂

    The reality is that as things stand, we Nurses have to fight these problems ourselves. We have been exploited by hospitals for decades; while the fire in our profession has already started, I do think that it’s not yet strong enough to catch the Government’s attention to do anything to stop it indefinitely.

    We need to stand united as Nurses – not necessarily to the streets, but by principle.

  • to begin with, Ben, I personally believe that deterioration in terms of our socio-political, ethico-moral behaviors as nurses have changed over the decades that our profession is in existence. I would like to assume that your boss is a nurse if not a member of the health team. In being so, I firmly believe that being in the health team, we are ethically, morally, and professionally bound to uphold whatever you utter but in light to what had happened to you, I also like to say that the tongue has no bones. But it is wrong in every aspect that he/she opted to do that to you. However, I would have to agree with Iyachaa that you should have requested him/her to put it in writing and have him/her sign the document.

    This is your safeguard everytime they would want to impose on you to work beyond your time.

  • pinkee

    wherever we nurses go…there is always that same old story of being used and abused. sometimes i wonder if this is attached to our caps and pins that seems to be so visible and very well understood no matter what the language is. but actually, i think, this is borne out of the nursing and caring heart that a nurse must poses. it is a built-in mechanism in our system, our persona itself without which we can never be called nurses. sometimes i myself finds it so hard to understand our stand. but our time spent with our patients is already eating up every ounce of strength that we ought to spend fighting for our rights. that is why most of us just go by… lo que será, será…

    but i am still hopeful that someday…our cries may also be heard.

    • John Apolinario

      That is exactly what thousands of our colleagues should realize. Although we are bound by the caps for women and badges for men, it should not be a universal declaration that no matter what happens nurses must continue their obligation to their clients as their advocates.

      Perhaps we can fault this one on the concept that nurses CARE for their clients. While it is true that we care for them, we must realize that we have to GIVE CARE to ourselves and loved ones first in order for us to be whole and be able to give a part of that care to a stranger.