Via Media

Via Media

I don’t think this is new…

…but it’s still interesting. After all, in my years in and out and through the rural South, a startling number of the physicans I knew were Filipino.

But this article says there’s a trend for Filipino doctors to re-train and get jobs as…nurses in the US

Around 6,000 Filipino doctors are studying to become nurses. There is a high demand for nurses in Europe and the USA and Filipino doctors have every intention of moving to richer countries to earn more money. As nurses abroad, they would earn more than working as doctors in the Philippines. The phenomenon has become a boom: the Health Minister, Francisco Duque revealed that last year, around 2,000 Filipino doctors specialized in nursing. This year, the figure has shot up to 6,000.

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posted August 5, 2005 at 12:05 am

The “Filipino(a) nurse” is already a cliche in Jersey. Interesting post!

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posted August 5, 2005 at 5:21 am

Hmm. On the one hand, a doctor might make an awesome nurse. OTOH, some doctors need real work on their bedside manner, and they would make scary and dangerous nurses. On the gripping hand, however, a nurse who’s a doctor would feel awfully tempted to second-guess a doctor, and I suspect doctors wouldn’t like that much. Especially if Dr. Nurse was right.

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Susan Peterson

posted August 5, 2005 at 8:31 am

Writing from a motel lobby here-very strange for me.
Nurses “second-guess” doctors all the time. Legally however they cannot diagnose or prescribe. The doctor has to do that. However, in the hospital, nurses are there all the time and doctors buzz in and out for a few minutes. Especially in a non teaching hospital, it is not uncommon at night for the one doctor in the ER to be the only doctor in the house. Any emergencies which arise on the floors are discovered by nurses, assessed by nurses, and handled by nurses either under standing orders, or through phone contact with doctors, often half awake sleep deprived doctors. If the nurse presents the patient’s feeling sick to her stomach as a gastrointestinal problem, the doctor will probably prescribe compazine…if the nurse reminds the doctor that this patient has a cardiac history, he may order an EKG and cardiac labs. (Early in my nursing career when I was responsible for 11 patients with one aide…and actually when the other nurse and aide were at dinner so the two of us were temporarily responsible for 22, I had this situation and didn’t think to tell the doctor more than that the woman had vomited and just didn’t feel right, he ordered compazine, and she died of an MI right after my shift was over. She was 85 and a DNR and no one so much as said a word to me. The doctor blamed himself, but I still blame myself. ) The point of this is that the knowledge base of the nurse is very important. Doctors, especially doctors covering patients they don’t know very well, rely on nurses to a very great degree. Some have an ego problem and resist suggestions and can only be influenced by the way information is presented. On the other hand some are all too grateful for the nurse to tell them what to do. ” He has wet crackles,he’s really filling up, should we increase his Lasix? he’s on 20 bid now….. ”
I think these new nurses as long as they are willing to function as nurses will be quite welcome. Because, there just are not enough nurses in hospitals, anywhere I know of.
Susan Peterson

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c matt

posted August 5, 2005 at 8:40 am

Not too surprising. especially for highly specialized nurses like CRNA’s who can make upwards of 200K in salary.

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scotch meg

posted August 5, 2005 at 10:06 am

Ditto c matt
Not to mention that they don’t have to go through the hoops that we have for foreign MD’s — they have to start from scratch with an internship and residency — long hours, sleep deprivation and low pay!
Although, looking back at my husband’s experience, maybe the pay wouldn’t have seemed so bad if we hadn’t had so darn much debt from school… and if we didn’t live in MA…

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posted August 5, 2005 at 3:34 pm

I always wondered what the effect of so many health care workers emigrating does to the overall health care of a nation. Are the Phillipines really that overstaffed in health care that they can afford to lose so many doctors and nurses? I am not in the industry but that seems to be a significant amount of doctors and nurses. I know they can’t stop people from pursuing wealth in a different country but health care is always one of those professions that to me, transcends a pay check unlike someone in software.
Anyone have any insight into this? A quick google didn’t turn up anything substantial.

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posted August 5, 2005 at 6:44 pm

Is there any apostolate of the laity which preaches stay in your own country and use your skills and education to build up your own country? We constantly hear this preaching about welcoming the immigrant, legal or not, who seeks a better life and so forth. Is there any preaching in any of these countries to folk with education and skills to stay home and help their own people? If they insist on coming here, I’ll help them, but it seems to me that they have a bigger duty to stay home and help at home than I have to help them here.
Is the Church addressing emigration in third world countries? Or are we only addressing immigration in the first world?

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posted August 5, 2005 at 6:54 pm

“I know they can’t stop people from pursuing wealth in a different country but health care is always one of those professions that to me, transcends a pay check unlike someone in software.”
Kevin, I agree. Speaking as a nurse who has worked with many different kinds of patients (from kids to the elderly, burn patients and demented Alzheimer patients) you definitely DON’T stay in nursing for the money. Because frankly, there is not enough money in the world to take on the responsibility of being a nurse. Susan describes a very accurate picture of being a nurse today. I stay in nursing because I love the job. I love the technical issues (ICU is a blast), but I also love taking care of my patients, seeing them become independent or helping them adjust to an amputation, or a poor prognosis. And, when the situation arises, seeing a patient to his or her death. So nurses really deal with many issues and the pay scale is not equal to the job.
Now some nurses are able to do “travel” nursing and temp jobs that DO pay very well. And yes, CRNAs make a very nice salary (but again, this is a HUGE responsibility). But the nurses who work day-to-day, shift-to-shift are paid poorly overall. For example, with 12 years of experience I was offered a job in upstate NY (and I mean upstate – not Westchester County) starting at $14.00/hour. Keep in mind I started my nursing career in NC 12 years ago at $15.00/hour. So geography makes a difference, too.
The pay must be pretty miserable for Filipino physicians if they want to come to the states for financial reasons. But as Kevin noted, it is not about the money in nursing. It will be interesting to see how physicians handle being nurses. It really is apples and oranges.

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posted August 5, 2005 at 10:48 pm

My mom worked as an RN, until she retired a few years ago, at San francisco General. She was in the famed AIDS ward for a number of years til it basically closed and she moved on to oncology. This was a public hospital in San Francisco mind you, but she was pulling down upwards of $55k a year.
Now compare that to whatever they make in the Philippines and it’s no wonder people want to come here.
I spent my high school years in Daly City, right next to SF, also known as Little Manila. Filipino nurses or Filipino doctors working here as nurses is no new phenom.
Caroline, you have a point, but really, when you’re talking about making $432/mo compared to $6k (According to the article), you can do so much more for your family. And what wouldn’t you do to make sure your family had enough to eat and was a notch above merely surviving? A “brain drain” becomes someone else’s problem.
I have even wondered this with the all the Indians coming here for the computer industry. What happens back home? Or even rural Mexicans who turn up here as day labor. What of the all the ramifications of having a generation of kids without parents? Towns where the only ones left are the young, the women and the elderly?

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jane M

posted August 6, 2005 at 9:40 pm

I cannot find a reference for this but I know that several years ago there was a deliberate effort in the Phillipines to recruit nurses there by pointing out the chance they would have to go to the US when they had some experience…. (FWIW my son had two Filipina nurses when he was in the hospital for a year, one of whom was definitely among the best that he had and he had nearly all wonderful nurses.)

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posted August 7, 2005 at 12:07 am

There was a big nursing shortage, so they said, and recruiting was heavy in the PI. By the mid-80s, it seemed to me that most San Francisco-area hospitals had LOTS of Filipina nurses.

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posted August 7, 2005 at 10:46 am

Most of our ancestors came here because conditions at home were less than optimal, and they thought they could do better here. (With the notable exception of the Africans, who were brought here by force.)
So we’re probably pretty poorly placed to turn around and tell doctors and nurses from the Phillipines that they have some kind of duty to stay home.

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