The Life of a New Nurse in the Philippines

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    I graduated as a nurse from a certain University in the Philippines. I was just as excited as any Nursing graduate. Earning a bachelors degree in Nursing was really something in my country. All of those sleepless nights of studying and not to mention the sky-rocketing tuition fees spent by my parents each semester for four years.

    Almost every parent hoped their son or daughter will finish up Nursing during my time and I think it continues on to the present. It is because of the promise of working abroad. The demand for nurses really perked up a few years back. I guess it was always the issue of searching for greener pastures. The promise of working abroad and earning a lot of money stirred up the ideas of most parents; believing that their son/daughter can fly to US and earn dollars after graduating and passing the Boards. I hope that was the real case...

    After I earned the title BSN (Bachelor of Science in Nursing), it was time to review for the Nursing Board Exam. I remembered reviewing for almost a year (I really wanted to have a place on the top 10). I also remembered the efforts of the various review centers; trying to lure as many students as possible. Nursing students are really a good source of money.

    So there it was, around 2-3 months of non-stop review and it’s off to the board exams. All of the examinees are really aiming to pass the boards in any way possible. I was confident back then. I knew I was going to pass and I was also hoping to pass it with flying colors. The excitement of the boards began to ease out after the exam.

    While anticipating for the results, a lot of my friends entered the Call Center industry. After a few months, the results were out, passers had their oath-taking, and we were made to think that we were closer to our goals of going to the promised lands. I immediately took the chance of applying for a nursing job in every hospital (both private and public hospitals).

    It was one of the requirements that new board passers must have necessary trainings such as Intravenous insertion, Basic Life Support and the like to be able to be accepted as a nurse in any hospital.

    I enrolled in all the trainings required and even had my seminars so that my resume would stand out amongst all job competitors. My efforts on applying in hospitals and clinics continued on even after I got a job from a Review and Training Center for Nurses.

    I really liked to live my career as a Nurse in a hospital; caring for patients, but I was financially challenged. I couldn’t afford working as a volunteer with less or no pay at all or worst having my training in hospitals and paying for the training with no guarantee of being one of its staffs.

    Those were the current situations of newly nursing graduates or board passers here in the Philippines. Wherever I go, the policy is the same: you got to be a volunteer with or without pay or pay a certain amount for on-the-job trainings. If you’ll take into consideration on the prices that these hospitals are charging Nurses, you’ll also think that it is just a way to earn money out of the poor Nurse’s pockets. Regular training costs at around 1000 Philippine peso a month.

    Special areas and other well-known hospitals even charge at around 8000-15000 pesos. Do you think that’s even fair for new Nurses, whom only depend unto their parents?

    What would become of those unfortunate nurses who are unable to have the money necessary for training? This is what had happened to me...

    After around a year of applying in various health institutions, I grew weary. I searched for other ways of preserving my knowledge of Nursing aside from trainings and seminars. Another pathway unto the Nursing career is continuing on in Nursing Education. I decided to have my Masters degree without having any clinical experience.

    I did this while I am working for a private company on a medical account. Having a Master’s degree offered a chance to be employed in a more promising job in Nursing: that is to be a Nursing lecturer or a Clinical Instructor either in the community or the hospital. I am actually doing this for a year now; working in a non-Nursing office while studying for Masters.

    Another pathway is having all the exams necessary for landing job abroad. I am also planning to have those exams: IELTS, NCLEX, CGFNS and the like when I already have enough money. It seems to be a promising way to escape the fate of nurses here in the Philippines: to go abroad.

    The only problem with applying for a job abroad is that it also requires clinical experience as a staff nurse. I remembered some of my friends being a volunteer for almost a year without pay or having an allowance of just around 50 pesos per day! Because of what is happening, I’m beginning to realize that Nursing is a profession made for rich people who can afford to supply an endless pool of money over trainings and seminars. I’m glad that the Philippine government is implementing some ways of giving a solution on the increasing rate of unemployment in Nursing.

    Just last year, the NARS program was made to give nurses a chance to have their experiences for 6 months. Such a good opportunity for nurses, but I think it is not sufficient for answering the problems of unemployment. Nurses continue on having a really tough time here in the Philippines and I’m sure it’ll continue on for a few years more as more student Nurses are planning to add on the Nursing population explosion.

    Nursing unemployment is really a grave problem these days here in the Philippines. And I think hospitals are taking advantage of new nurses, making them pay for overpricing training fees or offering them a job without pay. I’m really saddened by the way nurses are treated here in the Philippines.

    I really hope the newly elected officers of the country would try on considering more possible solutions for this problem. Fellow nurses are now petitioning for free on-the-job trainings for nurses which are to be considered as clinical experience.

    Up to this very day, I’m still not losing my grip. I’m still hopeful that I could land a job in a hospital or any health institution, passing my resume to every health institution I can find. I am doing this for the last two years and still hoping...
    Last edit by Joe V on May 25, '10
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  3. by   cebuana_nurse
    I know what you are feeling. I had the same goals when I was a student nurse in the Philippines. My college days wasn't witnessed by my Dad for he has to work abroad to afford to send me to nursing school. That became my motivation, to make him proud by graduating and be the first in my family to earn a college degree and be a professional. Life was hard and I'm glad I got lucky with the hospital where I did my volunteer work. After passing the local boards, I started off doing volunteer work for 3 months and was hired to be a staff nurse at a Labor and Delivery Hospital in Cebu. I did some trainings as long as they were for free because I can't afford the pricey ones. It's true that the hospitals are making a profit for hiring volunteers. They are hiring plenty of volunteers to 'help out' the actual employees that they are paying. Instead these employees sits down doing nothing and letting the volunteers do everything that they should be doing in the first place. Here in the US, those months of doing volunteer work in the Philippines is not sufficient to get a job here. They need employees that were actually employed and practiced nursing not doing volunteer work.

    As to the OP, don't give up. There is always a light at the end of the tunnel. Good Luck!
  4. by   Ginger's Mom
    I feel sad when I read this blog, thank you for sharing. You are fortunate to have your parent's support, and you sound like you have a great attitude and I hope great things come your way.

    US nursing students, don't have to spend endless hours ( I am not saying that the students don't study) but many have to work numerous hours to support their families since they don't have parental support. In the US after students finish school they take a short course and pass at the rate of 85-90%. It my opinion it seems like you are spending time learning information that is not promoting academic success.

    Being a nursing leader you need to be a change agent, why does your country allow so much to enter nursing knowing the majority won't pass the boards and the ones who do may not find employment.

    With your masters in nursing why not explore why do the nursing students have to study so hard with poor results, I know believe your country's student are not intelligent enough, but it a failure in your system. That need to be changed and you can make a difference using evidence based nursing to show the current programs are not preparing nurses for the 21st century.

    Be a nursing advocate to have a better programs reflecting your countries people's talent.
  5. by   berryberry
    Very very true Salvie. batch 2007 here. I struggled a lot also in Philippines to pursue my career. I end up here working as a Secretary in UAE. After 1 year of seeking for employment in hospital, I had this opportunity to work abroad. I leave the country with hope that I could explore and seek nursing development here. But, I will prove that it's not easy, hospitals here asking for at least 2 years hospital experience as staff nurse before they will give you chance to take Ministry of Health (MOH), HAAD (Abu Dhabi), DOH (Dubai) licenses. What's different in Phils? here, you cannot just have a voluntary service in a hospital, and it is a financial burden also. Too lucky to those with parents here, supporting their visa and everyday needs. Just to share this, that situation here compare to US, UK, etc.. is the same for us Filipino whose striving to earn really good in such places. Compensation in Middle East starts with min. 40k per month and up, it will depends on your position, licenses and employer.

    A lot of nurses also coming here in a visit visa trying their luck. Sadly end up working as a Waitress, Sales Lady, Cleaner, Housemaid, etc.. sad reality...

    I am hoping and praying that government will pay attention to this situation. Like you, I don't know where to start for my Nursing career. Seems I need refreshment course. Well, Godbless to you!
  6. by   marketamerica
    Reading all these responses really make me so sad.I graduated long time ago in CU of CDO.I was just lucky to have been accepted as a walk in applicant in Phil. Heart Center right after passing the board exam.The experience I got from that institution has really shaped me and my skills to the fullest.Had I stayed in CDO,I'm sure I would not have this kind of opportunity.
    I never realized how much struggles those young nurses have to go through just to earn a little experience until my niece became one. She's one of those rns who has to wait a long list of volunteer just for a 3mos exposure.We have so much nursing supplies in the Phil.that one has to be more than an rn in order to get accepted.Sometimes one really has to exert extra effort in order to find a better job opportunity.Small cities has less job availability compared to the big city.Nursing job here in the states is very competitive too.One has to really acquire extra trainings and certifications in order to earn the trust of the the doctors as well as the people over us.We can not be complacent or just be contented w/ our BSN degree.We have to invest more inorder to gain more.That's why I always incourage young nurses in the Philippines to go back to school if they can because this will make them more marketable instead of spending money for a 3 mos volunteer job.It's not fair to them to do the job of the employed nurses whose making the money yet poor young RNs are doing the leg works.For those who are not willing to invest in further education,they need to go to a bigger city where there are more hospitals available.We have to go where progress is. We can not just wait for the opportunity to come. We have to go where it is more accessible.I know it's not easy but just like a business we have to invest,trust and pray to God harder.
  7. by   cedric2000
    I can relate to your sentiments Salvie. I have the same experience way back when I graduated from nursing school and passed the local board. That was the time when the deployment of Filipino nurses abroad was almost to a standstill. And with that, there was a backlog of RNs looking for jobs in our country. Before I got lucky enough to get absorbed as a full time RN in one of the tertiary hospitals in Manila, I've already been to three post-grad nursing training/volunteer jobs. I can say that I must have been so lucky or it was just finally "my day" when I was included in the top 50 of the 500 or so applicants in that hospital. To cut the story short, that hospital experience in the ICU was my stepping stone to gain better opportunities in the middle east and later here in the US.

    Being in the US and coming from the Philippines, I can compare the contrasting situations between the two countries. It is the low supply of nurses in the US and the opposite of it in the Philippines. However, if you compare how the nursing leaders in each country respond to the situation, one can see the inappropriateness on the Philippine side. While nursing leaders both in government and private institutions in the US are promoting the profession for would be future nurses among its young citizenry, the Philippine side did nothing for the overcrowding population of RNs. This could be secondary to an overreaction or lack of foresight to the labile global demands of nurses abroad. They've allowed the mushrooming of nursing graduate factories here and there without looking at its impact on the nursing labor force. As I've learned recently, the Middle East which more often our customer for RNs, have started to offer lower salary rates owing to our oversupply of nurses. The Arabs must have learned about the Philippine saying, "Pag-nagigipit, kahit sa patalim kakapit". This is something that nursing advocates in the Philippines should have looked into rather than having "exchanges of matronic pleasantries" and "chit-chat" during nursing conventions, etc. The government regulating arm, CHED, lent blind eyes and deaf ears into the poor performance of some nursing schools in the local board. Well, what can I say, that is the Philippines.
  8. by   aries_33
    Overpopulation of nurses not just in our country is the main reason why nurses nowadays cannot find a decent job. The government especially Department of Education and Ched is one of the culprit for this booming of nursing graduates. They allowed so many nursing schools to operate even though some of them lacks the ability to produce competent nurses resulting also of very low passing rate in PRC exam. There actions are always too late, as a proof, they are implementing foreclosure of low quality nursing school just this year, when Philippines is already flooding with nurses.
  9. by   neutrophil
    I am a nurse here in the U.S. Went to school here and all. I am married to a Filipina, I brought her here, she is a graduate of FEU, in accounting, I found her her job that she works very well in. I hope that you understand, that right now, nursing in the U.S. Is not a high demand as it once was. You are taking a very big risk. As far as quality of nurses, it has nothing to do with your nationality, it has to do with the individual. I have seeing a very good Filipina nurse and very bad ones that are good at documenting but not the actual patient care. Most filipina's that I speak with here, they say, "If I knew how hard it was here in the U.S. I would have stayed home." So be careful what you wish for. The United States is a very successful country because the work, stress and expectations are very high. Money is not everything. Good luck.
  10. by   kurreeztuhh
    hi. i am experiencing the exact same thing. i am currently stydyig my masters degree with st paul mqnila while im working for a call center in makati. its been 2 yrs as well, i took the boards june 2008. thanks for speaking up for the whole nursing community.

    up until now i am also very hopeful of landing a nursing job for clinical experience soon. even if im earning a big salary in this call center im workin for, i would not hesitate to leave it for a staff nurse position. evrn if my salary would be demoted 3 times, i guess its fine.

    this situation is very depressing but i find it comfortable to hear that i am not alone. thank you.
  11. by   Dzhun
    It's a sad reality. Most of my friends is experiencing the same thing.

    I was a volunteer nurse without pay for 3 months... I thank God because I became a staff at that hospital and now I'm a head nurse of my dept!
  12. by   johansoct9
    man oh man...this is just depressing... in june i'll be on my fourth year as a nursing student..

    who knows, maybe next year i'll be one of the unlucky ones...
  13. by   daverpn
    I think that is great your not losing hope or faith of course. Keep your mind set on GOD and pray for guidance
    Iam here in canada toronto and am now out of work here. I have been let go due to allegation from family and patient and mangement did not support me and my union tried and I had a pay out. I haave a wife whom is filipina and our new son of 8 months July 2

    Dave Moffatt RPN Toronto
  14. by   chloram_24
    very well said salvie. you had explained very well the situation of some nurses here in our country. i'm also one of the rn's in the philippines who have been through a lot of difficulties just to be a staff in a hospital and unfortunately till now, my lucks still evades me from landing a hospital
    im working as a company nurse right now and i have a fair salary but i still do hope to become a staff nurse someday.
    working in saudi is very tempting so i tried to apply in an agency but i did not pursue my application. can you imagine! they offered me starting salary of 300 usd a month because of lack of experience. that was way back 2008. this is really depressing when you think all the high expenses that you spent in studying

    it is really devastating that until now the govt haven't paid enough attention to address the difficulties that most new nurses, rns or not, have been experiencing. i believe the govt's are aware about the nurses paying a fee for a volunteer job in a hospital. but they keep on ignoring it. what they only know is that nurses are good source of dollar to the country when they are working abroad. how sad.

    so let's just hope fot the best. hope will be the source of strength to continue to struggles life difficulties to us nurse's experiencing unlucky side of our fate. anyway, sabi nga nila "bilog ang mundo".