Nursing is one of the most lucrative professions in the world. In this ever-changing, aging, and growing population, professional nurses will continue to be in demand for many years to come. Nursing is a profession that provides, decent pay, a balanced shifting schedule, and the flexibility of time between personal, social life and work, well, at least overseas away from the Philippines.
In many recent years, a lot of individuals in the Philippines took up the Nursing profession with hopes of achieving dreams and saw it as a highway to success and financial security. During the many years that passed, a lot of foreign countries experienced shortages of professional nurses and were forced to “import” nurses from other countries to supply the vast demand. The Filipino people, with hopes of achieving greener pastures, are the ones who experienced this vast need. A lot of Filipinos who graduated in the 90’s are now at different countries abroad and are gaining financial security, and are earning more green than what they expect.
During recent years however, this demand faded because of the great recession that started at the United States of America. Foreign countries who used to import foreign workers halted their practices and opted in encouraging their own people to take up the course and work for their motherland. This put an end to the high hopes and dreams of thousands of professional registered nurses in the Philippines, as well as those who are yet to graduate. Ultimately, there is now, at present, an oversupply of nurses exists in the Philippines and hundreds of thousands of these professionals could not get jobs as a nurse.
Filipino nurses are prided as compassionate and caring as compared to nurses of other nationalities. Their patience and family-centered lifestyles in the Philippines fueled their need to take care of those in need and alleviate suffering; and they can speak English fluently. These are some of the reasons why many countries optioned to import nurses from the country. Sadly, the recession has stricken its toll and almost all foreign lands closed their doors towards foreign nurses. Strict visa screenings and years of experience is required to be able to step foot at a foreign land and work as a nurse. Furthermore, various foreign lands have instituted their own licensing requirements which requires at least 6 months to 2 years of additional study just to be handed with a license. The visa required for this study is apart from the visa that is to grant a Filipino nurse permit to practice. This barricade has continuously placed a restriction on the number of nurses that could leave the country to look for jobs abroad.
Nurses stuck at the Philippines are optioning to work in other fields and these do not offer the years of experience they need to be able to apply abroad. What is more troubling is, these nurses are often abused with potential volunteer and trainee positions where they are unpaid and have no benefits whatsoever. These trainees and volunteers would work hard in exchange for the experience they so need. They are given the same duties and responsibilities of paid nurses and they do what paid nurses do without any compensation. The worst thing about it is that these nurses just do not get accepted as volunteers or trainees. There is still a rigorous selection process for an otherwise unpaid job.
Given this tragedy, the Philippine government has opted to act in an attempt to address this problem. It has made licensing exams difficult to limit the number of registrations. It has elevated standards and closed down institutions that offer non-quality nursing education. It has even attempted to encourage would-be college students to take up other courses instead. Unemployed nurses in need are encouraged to work in Customer Call Centers to earn a living for themselves. A year ago, the Department of Health has even launched the RN Heals Project to employ as much as 10,000 nurses who would staff rural nursing centers.
Nursing is a profession of passion and valor in the Philippines. Even amidst this tragic crisis, there are still many hopefuls who pursue a career in Nursing in hopes of attaining greener pastures. Unemployed nurses, volunteer nurses, nurse trainees, and other unpaid nurses are still holding on to hope that someday this will change.
A certain person named Angeline Vergara is one of these nurses. She has worked unpaid for three years at the Manila’s East Avenue Medical Center. In the midst of this crisis, she stated that she is not losing hope. She admitted the hardship of the profession, stating “My parents feel like I’m still going to school because they give me some money every day,” “It’s very difficult. At my age I should be the one helping my family, not them helping me.” Her heart is still passionate about the profession though. “I don’t regret being a nurse. Every time I go home I feel so blessed at being able to help someone, even though I don’t get anything in return.”, she says.
Nursing is not a passport towards success and financial security. Many individuals who took up the course only have the dollars in their eyes and in their heads. Yes, while nursing is a professional job, its core is not about the money and the lucrative lifestyle it could offer. It is about caring and altruistic passion to care for our fellowmen in need. Never give up that dedication and compassion. If you are grief-stricken, always remember: there is hope and your time will come. Just hang in there.