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An Open Letter to Overseas Filipino Nurses
Dear OFW Nurses,
Some of you are probably reading this over a routine cup of coffee, while others are discreetly browsing inside the medication room or using the patient’s chart as a cover-up. And right now I bet you are smiling because you’re guilty of two things: coffee addiction and being sneaky.
Let’s go back to day one when you’re in the middle of the congested Metro probing every employment agency to determine who’s got the competitive offer. You’ll be asked to submit a ton of requirements, several copies of 2x2s, fill up time consuming applications forms, and instructed to wait for a call – a call which 80% of chance won’t happen. You are physically exhausted, financially drained, and emotionally frustrated.
The day of your departure finally arrived. You’ve said your last goodbyes and given farewell hugs and kisses to those people who have a special part of your life. You tried to hold back those tears and kept your composure with all your God given strength. Being slapped of a reality that you don’t have any idea if when are you going to see your love ones again just hurts the deepest core of your emotion. Or whether you’re going to see them again. You see, future cannot be predicted… grandparents grow old, distance shatters couples, and everyone you left in the Philippines is not immune to untimely death.
Tears started bursting uncontrollably the minute the airplane’s loud engine started. This is it. There’s no turning back.
Hours later you arrived in a different county. Upon waiting for your luggage, plenty of questions appeared in your mind. Will the locals accept you? Are you willing to embrace the new culture? Will you survive without your mother? When can you go online again to update your Facebook status and upload that Instagram worthy selfie inside the plane along with a heartfelt caption?
Months have passed and you’re well adjusted. You’re already speaking their local language like a pro! Filibini mumarida kweyis alatul malum! Sah? But there are still situations that test your humanity. Like being scolded by a physician even if it’s clearly not your mistake, passionately taking care of an ill patient while your father is in the ICU fighting for his life, cuddling a newborn while your own was left back home, struggling to deliver the best quality patient care and carry out doctor’s orders despite manpower shortage because nobody accepts the “we are understaffed” reason, and trying to appear “poker-faced” while receiving endorsement but deep inside you’re grieving for a family or friend who passed away.
You’d rather spend Christmas on duty to forget how you usually celebrate it with your family. During your birthdays, your family will send you a picture of a birthday cake but you never got to actually blow the candle. You’re presence in every special occasion is felt through a blurred video call because the internet in the Philippines is just sh*tty.
You got blamed for one thing you forgot and other million things that you are not truly accountable for such as slow dispensing of medicines from the pharmacy, wrong diet given to the patient, and even the poor performance of air conditioning system in a patient’s room. But you don’t get recognition for your hard work, sacrifices, and having a sharp memory and attention to detail – yes, you can definitely recall the latest CRP result, memorize changes in CBC, and recite medication dosage and timing of all patients even without looking at the chart (salute to the past, present, and future in-patient staff nurses of KNH).
In difficult situations, it’s okay to cry and let it all out. Fighting homesickness is challenging enough, how much more if you add the pressure of language barrier, workload demands, and unending responsibilities in duty. But I know you can always come back strong because that’s the trademark of a Filipino nurse. A wise mind ruled by good conscience, a strong heart full of clean intentions, and a goal of giving your family the life they deserve by working hard overseas.
I believe Filipino nurses like you are in demand in every corners of the globe because of your resilience, flexibility, and sincerity. You strived hard to achieve every requirements using your knowledge, skills, and attitude.
So try not to lose your sanity over a patient who used the call bell 10x in the span of 30 minutes, or to a third day post-op who demands for painkiller claiming that she is in extreme pain yet you notice her Snapchatting, and even to a senior nurse who seems to be underestimating your capacity.
“We have finally arrived in our destination. It’s now 9:45am in Manila, Philippines. Thank you for choosing Philippine Airlines. Mabuhay” - I know you cannot wait to this announcement made by the pilot for it is just music to every OFW’s ears. Just keep on grinding and fighting. Years, months, or weeks from now, you’ll get to go home again. You may not be always winning at your career abroad, but you’ve certainly won the hearts of the people you left the Philippines.
Good luck and God bless Philippine RNs!
© 2016 nurseglobetrotter