Monday, March 12, 2007

// Opinion // All Journeys Start with a Single Step

Over 15,000 Filipino nurses leave the country every year to work abroad, primarily in the United States, the UK and Ireland. Although this number might have gone down last year and maybe even this year because of the retrogression on Schedule A visas in the US, the diaspora is expected to accelerate anew once the US Congress ratifies a new immigration bill that covers the recruitment of nurses into the country.

Some experts are predicting that legislation needed to allow new nurses into the country might come as early as April, while others think October is a more practical target. The more conservative soothsayers believe it might come early next year. Whether it comes tomorrow or the next decade, one thing is certain-- Filipino nurses would be the first to queue at the US immigration office.

The promise of an economically-stable life attracts many Filipino nurses to pursue work abroad. Many veteran nurses have left local hospitals for nursing homes and hospitals in California, Illinois, London, Ireland and the Middle East. Many more perhaps have left their first careers to chase their dreams of becoming nurses and earning in a monetary denomination other than the peso. Even local physicians have exchanged their robes for nursing gowns. Young doctors are not the only ones shifting to nursing, even the veteran doctors are making a go for it. Even those who've already built successful careers locally have made the plunge and in most cases, you'll see them leaving ahead of everyone else because of their financial capabilities and established linkages abroad--whether family or professional networks.

The exit of Filipino doctors and nurses from local medical institutions naturally have taken a toll on the Philippine's healthcare industry. There are various reports stating that a number of hospitals in the provinces have been forced to close down for lack of nurses and physicians. It seems that the search for a better life abroad may have come at a price, one that those left behind are made to pay.

For some nurses, the choice between staying home and working abroad is like choosing between a jump into a ten-foot deep pool and a 100-foot river gorge. Some would rather take the safer jump and be rewarded finanially for their efforts than risking their lives over an uncertain future. On the other hand, those who've decided to stay in the country have their own valid reason too. Although some would cite noble causes for staying, others simply enjoy the comforts they already have here. These comforts--like having family closeby, work environments that they've grown into so well, and the familiarity and warmth of a nation they love--are not easy to come by when one is in a foreign land. The choice is indeed a personal one and when it comes down to personal decisions, it's often difficult to argue what's right and wrong.

Debating whether or not doctors and nurses should stay is not the mission of this site. Neither is igniting a flame war nor putting anyone in a bad light. We're simply here to inform and provide a reliable source of information for nurse wannabes, current nurses and whoever that wants it, even those who've already taken the jump. Expect to see news, compiled from various sources, how-tos, and the occassional personal observations about current issues. We'll also accept contributions, both content and donations (kidding, unless you're really generous). So, we hope you keep coming back to this space and make it your own.

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