According to Lady Lucille , nurses in the Philippines are some of the most exploited workers in healthcare, often working for extremely low salaries or even as unpaid volunteers just to gain experience and look for paid work abroad.
Why did you decide to be a nurse in the Philippines?
Honestly, I decided to become a nurse because it was my dream job. I enjoy helping people and I wanted the chance to make a difference in people’s lives.
Also, I wanted to be close to my family, especially my daughter. Filipino people are very family orientated and tend to live close to each other. However, I soon realised that I wouldn’t be able to support my family if I continued to work at the hospital without being paid. I had to look for new opportunities abroad to be able to provide a better life for myself and my family. If only hospitals paid doctors and nurses decent wages it wouldn’t be necessary for so many people to look for other opportunities abroad.
As a nurse, I hope to find work abroad. To do this, I needed to first gain experience. I worked for free as a volunteer nurse in a tertiary hospital for one year due to the lack of paid job opportunities in the Philippines. I wanted to gain clinical experience and become more efficient at my job. The reality is that most of my colleagues were in a similar position, working unpaid for two years to get the necessary experience in order to be able to work abroad.
What is the level of English language proficiency among nurses in the Philippines?
The general level of English language fluency among nurses in the Philippines is good and getting better. From the beginning of primary school up to college level, Filipinos are taught how to speak and write in English. It is very important for Filipino nurses to be fluent in English. The Philippines are one of the largest labour exporting countries in the world and for any nurse wishing to work in the U.S.A. or any other foreign country a good knowledge of English is essential.
To assess the language level of nurses seeking employment abroad, there are two internationally recognised language tests: TOEFL and IETLS. You must get a score of 6.5 or better to be able to get a job in a foreign country.
What are the most popular countries that Filipino nurses migrate to and why?
The most popular destinations are Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Oman, Libya, Qatar, Dubai, Bahrain and Singapore. Most prefer to move to middle eastern countries due to the low cost of recruitment placement and processing fees in comparison to those when moving to Western countries.
Some nurses choose to work in the middle east as a stepping stone to save enough money to be able to move to counties such as Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand. These five countries are still the preferred destinations because of the perceived advantages in salaries, working conditions and career opportunities.
What are some of the reasons nurses choose to emigrate from the Philippines?
There are a variety of different reasons nurses choose to migrate, a focus group revealed the following disadvantages of working in the Philippines and advantages of working in foreign countries.
Disadvantages of working in the Philippines
- Economic - Low salaries, no overtime or danger pay, poor health insurance
- Job related – Huge workload and stressful working environment, slow promotion possibilities
- Socio-political and economic environment - Limited opportunities for employment, decreased health budget, socio-political and economic instability
Advantages of migrating to work in other countries
- Economic - Higher income, better benefits and compensation packages
- Job related - Lower nurse to patient ratio, more working hour options, chance to improve nursing skills
- Personal/family related - Opportunity for family to migrate, opportunity to travel and learn about other cultures
- Socio-political and economic environment - Advanced technology, better socio-political and economic stability
The difficult job conditions and lack of career development opportunities for nurses in the Philippines translates to a large migration of labour. Nurses in the Philippines learn English and strive to get the types of experience needed to work abroad. With a good command of the English language and work experience, their skills are highly transferable. Many employers recognise this and it's no wonder that recruitment efforts for Filipino nurses is thriving.
Lady Lucille D. Duyo
|A member of the Philippine Nursing
|She graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing and is a registered nurse in the Philippines. Currently, she works as a staff nurse in Allah Valley Medical Specialist Inc. Hospital and previously at Caritas Health Shield Clinic and Insurance Inc.|