13 October 2005

Doctors Will Be Doctors

It seems Filipino doctors-turned-nurses in the US are getting bad reviews simply because they CAN'T get rid of their so-called 'doctor instincts'. So bad is the situation that they end up being deported back to the Philippines.
A number of Filipino doctors working as nurses overseas have been deported because of one crucial lapse --- they forgot they were no longer working as physicians.

Instinctively, they had changed the orders given by the actual doctors on duty, or questioned, if not ignored, the directives given them, according to Dr. Fely Elegado-Lorenzo, director of the Institute of Health Policy and Development Studies at the University of the Philippines’ National Institutes of Health.

Just two months ago, she said, two doctors were booted out of a Texas hospital for the transgressions. A similar case occurred in the United Kingdom two years ago. [INQ7.net, Oct 12 2005]


Another observation is that some doctors are not even able to pass the local nursing boards. Out of 2,212 non-nursing graduates which included pilots, engineers, and criminologists who took the boards last June, 40 out of 800 doctors failed to make the passing grade.

Whoa.

It's difficult to shed off the physician mindset in us. Some doctors are not made to become nurses.

UPDATE at 6:03am, 10/16/2005: Yesterday, the Inquirer editorialized this issue, and pointed out that doctors are merely having "adjustment woes" on their new career. It said that the few cases of Filipino-doctors-turned-nurses exhibiting insubordination abroad are "more of the exception rather than the rule." Its advice was that rather than penalize Filipino doctors for their career-shift, the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) and the Board of Nursing should strive to improve the quality of nursing education.

For those who want more info on Filipino doctors shifting to nursing as a new career, you can refer to this useful past post of mine to know more about what's happening.

29 reactions:

misispi said...

I guess it takes a long time to unlearn what one studied to do for at least 10 years.

Could it be then that trained doctors who now work as nurses may find their career switch unfulfilling, even if profitable? I can imagine a doctor-turned-nurse's frustration to be faced with an emergency situation and not be allowed to practice in a doctor's capacity, but only to assist, because it will be breaking hospital policies.

Dr E said...

Life's full of tough choices, Mrs. P. You said it best: "unfulfilling but profitable."

rolly said...

There's another way of looking at it. Hopefully I'm wrong. It's the lack of professionalism. I have seen professionals in different fields who forget where the line is drawn. haha

Just teasing.

Of course, it's the doctor in them that causes that. Sad no?

Dr E said...

I agree with your other perspective, Tito Rolly. That can be the reason, too.

lefthand said...

"It's difficult to shed off the physician mindset in us. Some doctors are not made to become nurses."

That's a very nice way of putting it.

beajerry said...

It doesn't say exactly why doctors are becoming nurses. More pay? Wha..???

The fact that they fail the nursing boards is quite interesting, though. "...the thrust of nursing is not exactly the same as medicine"--I'll say!

Talk to any nurse and 90% of what they know they learned AFTER nursing school.

This article reveals quite a few issues.

Huseng Busabos said...

Heard a same story in Ca. The Filipino Doctor turned Nurse decided to save a dying lady because no other doctor can perform the procedure as they are all busy. Sad to say he was fired from his job - but the good things is, he was able to save a life.

may said...

i work with a nurse who was a doctor back home. he annoys me for some reasons, and one of them is when he gives report, he always makes comment like: "i don't know why this doctor ordered this meds, he is so stupid." i had a kick once when i was able to defend a doctor's order by proving the order was not stupid at all, but the right thing to do.i don't care what you are before you became a nurse; but since you are a nurse NOW, just try to be be a good one, without putting others down.

Rygel said...

may: i guess doctors have a hard time shedding their superiority complex. I wonder how i'll do if i get to that position hehehe

Dr E said...

Thanks, lefthand.

Beajerry, please read this past post on poaching nurses and doctors, so you will be enlightened.

Noble as the motive may be, Huseng Busabos, I think as nurses, doctors should try to act their new parts. When they decided to shift careers, it was for keeps (supposed to be, right?).

I agree with you, May. Doctors-turned-nurses must try to become GOOD NURSES.

You're taking up nursing, Rygel?

duke said...

hello Doc E!

It was a tough choice for these doctors to change their profession and become nurses BUT since they made the choice (whatever reason might it be), they should hold upto it. I guess old habits just can't be broken easily.

Dr E said...

Hello, Duke!

Yes, I agree with you. Also, the insubordination issues are probably isolated cases. More Filipino-doctors-turned-nurses are most certainly doing fine with their new jobs and are enjoying it.

bayi said...

Once trained, it's difficult to untrain a doctor. More so, if the doctor has already practiced as a doctor for a number of years. I feel for them because they have made sacrifices to be retrained for a lower position and have to take orders instead of giving them. Ever so oftem they may disagree with an instruction given out but are unable to give their opinions.

These doctors-turned-nurses are an unhappy lot, struggling with professional frustrations all the time. The extra money they make will not compensate their loss of professional pride. This is very tragic.

They should return to the Philippines and practice as doctors, now that they have seen that the grass is not always greener on the other side. In doing so, they would have made an "easy" sacrifice and help the country as it grapples with a shortage of doctors. At least they will be professional fulfilled, if not totally happy.

BabyPink said...

i've read about the cases in UK maybe around a year ago. now, there are similar cases in the states na rin? grabe, 'no? hay!

while many doctors are studying to be nurses, my friend who's a nurse is studying to be a doctor. when her doctor professor found out, the prof jokingly said, "palit na lang tayo ng lisensiya!" hehehehe:)

jey said...

i read that editorial. and somehow it brings in a sense of sadness becasue there are fewer doctors practicing, which means inefficient hospital service.

but can't really blame them, especially when the future is not so bright for them.

eye said...

sad but true... i have a close friend who is a doctor but is taking up nursing right now and is planning to migrate to the US. i feel sad for her because she spent all those 10+ difficult years in finishing her degree in medicine :(

p.s.
totally not related to this post, but do you watch HOUSE on AXN? :) wala lang, aliw siya, i always watch it hehe!

delish said...

i find this really sad... not that being a nurse is equally important... but really, it's like a downgrading of skills...


EYE...i sometimes watch HOUSE :D

delish said...

not that being a nurse is NOT equally important, i meant :D

sorry :D

Rygel said...

Dr. E: Not at the moment, but given the chance, I would... The monetary compensation here really isn't enough but at the moment I'm still on the path of a doctor.

Dr E said...

Much as we would like to stop the brain-drain, Bayi, I don't see that happening in the next 5 years. More nurses will be needed abroad, and more doctors will surely shift to nursing.

BabyPink, I think that's a remarkable story you have there. Your friend is surely going against the tide. Doctors should hear her story!

Jey, this is what the country gets for not taking good care of its medical personnel.

So you have a similar story, Eye? Wow. Rare are the times when I would NOT hear of a friend who has a friend who has shifted to nursing. Yes, I watch HOUSE when I have time. Great show. It is the next best thing that happened since ER.

Downgrading of skills, Delish? Yea, you can say that. But a doctor has to survive too, and so, he shifts to nursing not really because he's dying to become one, but because he wants a better life for himself and his family.

Good luck to you, Rygel. May you be happy with your choices.

DP said...

Why are these doctors becoming nurses to begin with? Is their medical education not recognized in the US? Why not?

Dr E said...

An average doctor's salary here would be in the ballpark of US $500- $600 monthly, or $700, if they're really lucky. In the US, however, the average nurse gets around $5,000-$6,000 monthly. The rising cost of living prevents most doctors to survive using their salary. Most find the shidt to nursing the easiest way to remedy the situation, DP.

Please read this post to know more what's happening.

Mic said...

I read about this in the Philippine Journal of Internal Medicine a few months back. Nursing care and clinical work are two very different things, requiring different mindsets. Switching roles would indeed be difficult.

I don't think any amount of policy-making or legislature will stop the brain-drain given the current state of things. Our government spends so little of the national budget on health.

Oh, and about House...

Dr. Paul said...

MD-RNs had professional identity crisis. I wrote an article about this. visit http://www.doktorko.com/_blog/index.php?mod=blog_article&a=120&md=897

Dr. Paul said...

Doctors are men and nurses are boys. Doctors invested several years of study to manage patient and help him heal. Nurses are doctor’s partner and they provide nursing care for patients hasten recovery. Doctors are men because they are “intellectually mature” than nurses when it comes to the arena of health. This is the reason why many MD-RNs intentionally or unintentionally forgot to function as a nurse. Their level of “intellectual maturity” confuses their identity. It’s like men pretending to be boys (but boys can’t pretend men), so to speak.

angel said...

We can't conclude that doctors becoming nurses and working abroad lacks patriotism. Look at our country today our economy down not to mention many greedy politicians. Come to think of it "what will be the future of our children?"

shane said...

doctor's who take up nursing lacks passion in what they do...how can a doctor treat his patient if he doesnt even have a passion in his profession?!

imagine life without our physicians? i guess those charts will be filled with nursing diagnosis instead of medical diagnosis.

trauma said...

These are few adjustment cases compared to thousands of MDs turned RN's. Most I think will ajdust well or try to get back on being a doctor. Most Nurses sposored in the US are sposored as immigrants and are not on H1 visa.

Anonymous said...

Unlike some MD RN,, i am RN MD.. I took nursing as my pre med since back then I wanted to get the feel of patient care early on before I even get into med school..NOW that I finally finished the marathon of medschool- clerkship -internship boards.. I do not know what to practice first-- the RN or the MD..