I was already part of the wide audience of Philippine media when they frequently reported the high demand of nurses abroad, especially in the United States. Way back high school, I witnessed how the trend shifted from high demand to low demand. Eventually, it ended up to an abundant supply of nurses as I reached fourth year high school.
Still, my college application included Bachelor of Science in Nursing. Although it was only second to Bachelor of Science in Psychology, my preferred choice at that time, I had a strong feeling that I would end up entering the College of Nursing in my preferred university if ever I had the opportunity.
Undergraduate studies came as I came through different nursing subjects, eventually passing them all with average marks on those I lacked interest in and high marks on those concepts I had fun learning and exploring. Graduation time came, and eventually, and inevitably, the review for the Philippine Nursing Licensure Examination. Those months were the most crucial for me, even if I was already a graduate of a degree that I willingly chose. All the nursing concepts seemed impossible to grasp in one package, and it made me feel nervous midway through my review months. The examination day came, and I eventually passed, surprisingly with a pleasing result, both for me and my parents.
In all those times, ever since I entered the academe from day one, up to the day that I found out that I am already a licensed Filipino nurse, I knew that the concepts and skills would not matter if I did not apply it in life, at least for the people around me, and for the country that I desired to serve.
Nursing has always been an extensive and continuous profession, a vocation, and a calling, whether a spiritual or a nationalistic one. Most often, the money that comes with it is either compensatory, inadequate, or non-existent, leading to various motives on why different individuals practice the profession.
Months after I got my license, I tried to apply to various job opportunities. I ended up in a government psychiatric and mental health facility under a government program that allowed registered nurses to practice their profession, and train at the same time. It was good enough for me at the start, with an optimistic mindset that this is a good opportunity for me to learn and accept my calling.
But months came, and it also became an opportunity for me to realize the value of Filipino nurses. Several times came when I witnessed how nurses would choose to use their knowledge, and skills, as well as their smile and their optimistic outlook to touch the life of an individual, instead of touching iPads, keyboards, and word processors. The patience and struggle of a nurse to give directives to patients, often followed or misunderstood, makes one wonder how much care a Filipino nurse can give.
Aside from this, it was also an eye-opener for me on how Filipino nurses can quickly adapt properly to situations like the lack of resources. The resourcefulness of our nurses in the country, gained through time-tested experience and troubleshooting, makes them blacksmiths at their duty hours, inspired with creativity and functionality of makeshift equipment and tools.
The time spent for duty that could have been given for their significant others makes them soldiers of healthcare. Instead of caring for their family, eight to twelve hours of the nurses’ daily lives are spent caring for forty to fifty people, often strangers that they have never met before. Coming home tired and stressed makes it more difficult to interact with their family at home.
Added to this is the lack of opportunity to fulfill their basic needs in the right time of the day. Most often, Filipino nurses would choose to continue their tasks within a limited time frame instead of taking their meals, or even taking their bladder breaks. They will choose their needs first only after when the patient’s needs are given, even if this means after duty hours.
Even if nursing in the Philippines is a stressful and demanding job, a lot of Filipino nurses still choose to be part of the healthcare system in the country. Whether or not it is their choice to be one, by heart or by need, know the value of a Filipino nurse. As they choose to serve us in our country, you are assured that you will not feel the impact of not having nurses around you, leaving you alone in your healthcare needs.
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