The radio anchor felt that it was rather unfortunate that a young and brilliant nurse would rather choose to use her knowledge and skills in a foreign land giving care to foreigners while a great majority of her countrymen are deprived of even the most basic of health services.
This sentiment is not isolated. In fact, several articles have been written on the exodus of our professional health workers. Some were well-placed and had valid points while others were plain ignorant and unfair. I once read an article, where nurses were labeled as "mukhang pera" because they leave the country to literally wipe a foreigner's ass while leaving their aging parents who have no one to look after them so they can earn green bucks.
I think the practice of blaming migrating nurses for the shortage or lack of decent and competent care in Philippine hospitals is utterly unfair and ignorant.
True, hospitals close shop because they have no nurses and doctors left to man their wards. However, this cannot be fully attributed to the mass exodus of nurses to 1st world countries. Every year, thousands enrol to nursing schools, thousands more graduate from these schools, and a great number of this, pass the licensure examinations and become nurses. There is a constant supply of nurses. The shortage is in the job vacancies. Some hospitals simply refuse to hire more people as a way to cut operational costs. This is a fact.
Nurses in government hospitals are underpaid yet overworked. In some cases, the nurse to patient ratio is as bad as 1:50. That's one underpaid and overworked nurse tasked to care for fifty patients with varying needs. As if this is not enough, they are constantly at great risk of losing their hard-earned license and means of livelihood should they commit grave oversights.
Nurses undergo a 4-year rigorous academic and clinical training before they even get to sit for a licensure examination and this entails huge financial costs. While other courses get allowances from corporations when they undergo On-the-Job practicums, it is the opposite for student nurses. Student nurses pay training institutions varying amounts of affiliation fee for every day of duty. Add to that the cost of the supplies that will be used for every day of duty. The point that I'm trying to get at is that obtaining a nursing education involves tremendous financial costs that is unheard of in other professions/fields (I should know, nursing is my 2nd degree) and yet, a professional nurse's average pay is comparable or near to minimum wage. Nurses also have mouths to feed and bodies to keep warm (Read: families).
In the early years of nurse migration, critics claim that the continuous migration of nurses to 1st world countries would result to a problem they call, "Brain Drain." This is the phenomenon where the best skilled and trained nurses leave and the less than stellar ones (Read: incompetent) remain to care for the filipino. In recent years, a rather exaggerated term has been created to describe the phenomenon. They now call it, "Brain Hemorrhage." While there may be some ounce of truth to the claim, I see it as self-defeating. It's "damn if you do, damn if you don't" If nurses migrate, they contribute to the health care decay that is the "Brain Drain" However, if they choose to be "patriotic" and remain in the service of the filipino, they are generally described as "incompetent" if we are to follow the logic of the "Brain Drain" phenomenon.
Filipino nurses working abroad earn more than your average Overseas Filipino Worker. Thus, by simple math, it can be safely assumed that they are able to make more dollar remittance to their families in the Philippines. This means stronger peso for the the economy, lesser cost for social services for the government, families left behind get access to quality education, healthcare, and a generally better life. It is a well established fact that OFWs are the lifeblood of our country's economy. This is why OFWs are called "modern day heroes." Then why discriminate against the nurse OFW?
Nurses are human beings too like any other Tom, Dick, or Harry. They have dreams, aspirations, wants, and needs. If they choose to leave the country to find a greener pasture elsewhere, it should not be taken against them as it is just human nature to satisfy one's need. Each one of us has a right to pursue our goals and dreams. Engineers work in the middle east so they can earn their keep and realize their dreams; Seamen go on long and arduous voyages so thay can give their families a glimpse of the goodlife. Why can't nurses do the same?
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