Let’s face it. Filipino nurses have successfully raised the bar in terms of providing patient care anywhere in the globe. Even the sudden nursing glut and crisis didn’t stop our beloved Filipino nurses from showcasing their unique ability to render TLC (tender loving care). Blame it on our natural competitiveness and family-oriented culture, Filipino nurses have continuously seized every major nursing awards which only shows how we value quality service over profitable gains.
But speaking of uniqueness, Filipino nurses don’t just stand out due to their compassionate quality alone but also because of the unique circumstances surrounding Philippines’ nursing industry nowadays. We all know for a fact that Filipino nurses are fraught with various demons arising either from the nursing oversupply or from the nature of the nursing job itself. Nursing is a very competitive, challenging and rewarding profession all at the same time but with these demons slowly tarnishing the potential of Filipino nurses, we can never hope to have a nurse-friendly Philippines in the future. Here is a rundown of all the demons that can keep our nurses from achieving their true potential:
5. Compassion Fatigue and Burnout
Do you loathe the idea of coming to your shift most of the time? Do you always feel like you’re on the brink of giving up your nursing career due to overwhelming responsibilities and demands from both the doctor and your patients?
If you answer a reverberating “YES” for the two questions above, chances are, there is something wrong within you that needs serious attention. Nursing burnout affects almost all nursing professionals but particularly at risk are those who are more keen to details and are considered perfectionists by their coworkers. But when we talk about nursing burnout in the Philippine health care setting, a dark story will begin to unfold. With a salary barely reaching the minimum wage and a nurse to patient ratio that can reach up to 1:50, Filipino nurses have learned to embrace burnout as part of their bread and butter.
In addition to that, compassion fatigue can also block the path towards professional nursing growth. According to Scrubs magazine, compassion fatigue, often referred to as “secondary traumatic stress,” is a natural consequence of working with people who have experienced extremely stressful events. Filipino patients, especially those who are confined within public hospitals, are experiencing the worst conditions imaginable and this is the reality that has continued to push nurses to their boiling points. Finding some time to reflect, relax and create a work-life balance are some of the best ways that can bring Filipino nurses out of their misery.
4. Bad Attitude
Some nurses clearly stand out due to their theoretical prowess and some can also impress you with their advanced dexterity in performing nursing procedures. Add these two qualities together and you’ll get a very competitive nurse at your service. However, without the right attitude, any nurse won’t get too far from the status quo.
In the real nursing world, impressive resume and over the top credentials won’t give you an edge if you continue to forget to polish your social skills. One piece of advice for fledgling nurses: having one to two years of clinical experience under your belt won’t give you the license to change your attitude and brag about how good you are. Neither will it give you the right to disrespect your superiors or those who are subservient to you. Nursing is an art and the path towards perfection is full of twists and turns. If you genuinely want to be a nurse, then you must do all things to become a valuable part of the heath care team and refrain from doing things (like smoking and drinking in public) that might hurt the reputation of the nursing sector.
Always remember that learning how to respect people around you, killing any hint of insecurities within yourself and keeping your feet on the ground at all times will draw the fine line between an ordinary and exceptional nurse.
3. Backer System
I said it before and I will say it over and over again: Backer system can begets backward progress. I’m not quite sure about other countries but here in the Philippines, close family ties have worked for our Filipino job seekers’ disadvantage . Not only does nepotism robs aspiring Filipino nurses of an opportunity to gain clinical experience but it also put some patients at risk once those incompetent nurses with strong “backer” get to secure a nursing position. And just when I thought that RNHEALS program of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) would at least give a helping hand for those who were devastated by this persistent “backer system”, some registered nurses have attested that they saw how this dirty tactic works with their very own eyes.
When will this backer system finally meet its end? Will Filipino nurses and other unemployed college graduates get an equal opportunity to land a job or will this “backer system” continue to work and push our talented workforce to the edge of hopelessness? Nothing is sure in this world but if persistence and excellence are your two driving forces, nothing, not even a backer system, can get in your way of achieving long-term success.
With the American dream taking a back seat and chances of working in a Philippine hospital running dry, thousands of Filipino nurses have no choice but to consider “unemployed” or “underemployed” as their work status. Most of these nurses still have their hopes up that they can secure a staff nurse or even a volunteer position from hospitals they have been aiming to work for. On a side note, DOLE secretary Rosalinda Baldoz recently advised Filipino nurses to think out of the box and try other medical-related jobs like those positions that are being offered by the business process outsourcing (BPO) sector. I don’t think that it’s a lame idea to let Filipino nurses get a chance to bring food on their table but the point here is the fact that our health care industry is on a downward trend right now and the Philippine government is not even harnessing the rich supply of Filipino nurses to improve our country’s state of health.
Philippines has one of the worst health manpower to population ratio in Asia. As a matter of fact, the nurse to patient ratio of 1:10 that was set by WHO as a worldwide standard is a far cry from 1:50 that most nurses in the Philippines experience firsthand. In 1999, the ratio was of one doctor per 9,689 population. This was only slightly better than Cambodia’s 9,997, but lower than Indonesia’s 6,195, Thailand’s 3,670, Myanmar’s 3,291, Vietnam’s 2,122, Malaysia’s 1,465 and Singapore’s 731. Unless the government stop treating nurses as an international commodity, thousands of Filipino nurses won’t get a satisfying paycheck for most of their lives.
1. Nursing Exploitation
Needless to say, the “all work, no pay” or “overworked, underpaid” kind of system remains to be the juggernaut that pushes Filipino nurses to lose their faith for this country. The oversupply of nurses is supposed to be a driving force that can potentially halt our nurses’ aspiration of seeking greener pasture abroad. Sadly, their desire to leave the country has become more intense than ever, the reason why most of our nurses are becoming too desperate to gain a competitive clinical experience. Of course, this phenomenon has been viewed by carpetbaggers as an opportune time to exploit our nurses and use their services in exchange for an employment certificate with no pay. Nurses are patient advocates but how can they protect their ailing clients if they themselves have forgotten how to defend their own rights?
This is the fact that Filipino nurses continue to face nowadays. It’s a long way ahead but without serious effort from both the government and nursing advocacy groups, these demons will continue to push Filipino nurses down on the bottomless pit of defeat.
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