30 April 2006

Why a Doctor Would Choose To Become a NURSE

Since 1994, 100,000 Filipino nurses have left the Philippines to work abroad. A good proportion of that figure are doctors who decided to become nurses.

Here is one more young doctor shifting into the field of nursing. She expresses her sentiments and reasons for choosing a new career. It is worth appreciating how someone begins with idealism, and later on, transforms to a new person with a totally different outlook in life.

I do not blame her for her decision. Maybe if majority of the doctors here become nurses, and leave for greener pastures abroad, some good leader(s) of this country will notice there's a big problem in the health system, and do something about it. I just pray that when that happens, it is not too late yet.

Excerpts from the article:
"If this nation thinks that paying $200 to a doctor here is equivalent to $5,000 to a nurse abroad and should be enough compensation for our toil and brains, I am not going to play a martyr. We doctors are just like every decent, hard-working citizen of this country who has an instinct of self-preservation. We are trying to stay afloat even as the nation seems to be sinking. Government officials can continue to bicker until one day they have to go to a hospital --- only to find it empty. We boast about the brawn we send overseas, but if we lose our brain as well, what is going to happen to this country?

"Since I am young and broke, this could all be useless bellyaching. But couldn’t it also be the valid complaints of a thinking citizen of this country? Although some of our colleagues remain hopeful about our country’s future, I don’t think I can stay longer, waiting for a miracle. I am turning 30 in a few months, with only one ton of medical textbooks and a stethoscope for assets. And I still owe my parents half a million pesos in medical school tuition. A doctor cannot save lives if his own is in peril.
"

28 reactions:

ipanema said...

Another sad story indeed, but one can’t be happy when financially crunching.I was on the phone talking to my mother when I opened this page, I have to cut her short. I can’t resist but call my sister in another state. She narrated how she almost did the reverse. She’s a nurse and hell bent of becoming a doctor.Studied, trained and worked in the same university hospital while reviewing for her CGFNS, eventually left the country on a work permit.

People are trying to be practical. I empathize with the author of the article. To be young and broke is no funny situation. To wait for the government to do something for you is madness. You have to help yourself.

Brain drain is a global phenomenon. Brain gain should be looked into by governments and reflect upon. Not encourage people to leave.

To the author of the article>> go girl!

Meanwhile, I have to call my mother back, she’ll be cross with me. :)

may said...

for as long as i can remember, teachers, and other degree holders have gone to other countries and work as either nannies or housekeepers. the air of hostility was never the same as to the doctors that finally chose to be nurses. why is that, because the doctors are so superiors above all the other professions that they are immuned to the reality of the heirarchy of needs?

bayibhyap said...

While a lot of attention has been given to the doctors turned nurses, It has been an age-old practice for university graduates to work overseas as domestic maids and construction workers as the home country cannot provide financially viable jobs. I have seen so many graduates who were working at low-paying jobs in the Philippines before giving up to take a risk overseas. Talikng a risk because you never know for sure if your employer will treat you well or abuse you and you are so far from your home. Taking a risk because the diplomatic staff may be apathetic if you approach them with your problem. And of course, there is always an employer who is likely to order you around doing menial tasks even if you are a graduate...because you are now but a domestic maid!

Creating viable employment should be a top priority for the Philippines government.

ipanema said...

Every year, we have problems where to put all these graduates. Most are displaced. We have a high percentage of under employment.They try on a job just to get experience and eventually be a part of brain drain. Some of them enroll in courses they're not happy about. We have courses on caregiving in addition to their basic degree, just to get them overseas.

You mentioned the plight of OFWs. It's very true that working overseas is a risk. Employers treating them badly, delay of salary, some even receive salaries below what is agreed. Let's take the maid issue. In my present location, the Filipinas receive the highest salary compared to Indonesian, Sri Lankan, Bangladesh, Indian maids. For construction workers, it's the same. But some employers will lay their cards on the table. They'll give you less than what was agreed, it's a take it or leave it situation. So, instead of going back to the Philippines, they stay and suffer for a meagre salary, better than going back. Here, it's a status symbol if you have a Filipina maid. It means you have the means to pay. Besides, some of my friends are happy because their children speak English. The lucky ones, get to travel with the family if they go for holidays.

For countries granting citizenship and PR status, it's better, but most of our OFWs are in the Middle East, they dont grant PR status. Eventually, they will go back. The government should have more programmes preparing OFWs assimilating back to society after a long absence. Most of them find it difficult.

For the past several years,European countries are opening its door to Filipino nurses as well, but UK's taxes and the high standard of living is putting a drain on some. They plan to migrate to the US again.

Yet another cycle of global migration. The modern wandering Jews.

mari said...

i felt sad after reading her article. i can't blame her decision for leaving. never in her wildest dreams would she ever be paid the nurse's salary she'll be earning in the US.

to each his own. everybody has reasons for staying and leaving. leaving doesn't make her lesser of a person.

Duke said...

Brain drain is becoming worse in our country.
Who can blame them? It must be a difficult and ego crushing decision to make but the most practical one to do.

Dr. Emer said...

MAY: Perhaps the "air of hostility" is due to the fact that lack of health personnel (nurses, doctors) is considered an emergency problem. It is always a matter of life and death when you can't find a doctor in the hospital or clinic. You can still survive for some time without a teacher, lawyer, or engineer, but make all the doctors/nurses leave, and everyone will feel immediately the impact of their disappearance.

Rygel said...

What a coincidence - we have exactly the SAME assets!

Can i go with you?

:)

Ate Sienna said...

mahirap na kasi talaga ang buhay sa pinas. may mga kilala din akong doctor dito na nag-nurse sila. there's nothing wrong with that. yung pagiging doctor nila, magagamit din nila yun kapag nag-nurse sila.

ganun talaga eh. survival naman talaga sa mundo. whatever works, dun ka, diba?

psyche said...

its a really tough decision when u leave and change ur profession... when i got into med sch, so many of my batchmates entered nursing with the hopes of finding greener pastures abroad... but on the other hand, if all the brilliant minds will seek better compensations, sino pa ang matitira dito sa philippines? unless the govt will do something abt this, nothings gna happen.

ipanema said...

that's one concern experts are questionong psyche, the quality of those left behind. for as long as good doctors i know are still in practice, i dont have to worry. most of those who have established names in their profession are still around, thank god.

i really admire those who chose to stay because ALL of them have the choice to pack and leave, but they stayed. hats off to all.

Anonymous said...

www.filipinadoctor.com

Anonymous said...

I am an American educated RN and have managed departments staffed with these physicans turned nurse. Their approach to a patient is lacking in the nurturing support generally that we expect of a nurse. There is a difference in the education process of a nurse and a doctor.Doctor's who want to become nurses - should be required to attend nursing school

Anonymous said...

All these write ups about doctors leaving for greener pastures, I don't understand. My officemate's husband is a young military doctor and I think he's doing well financially. Her wife's telling us updates regularly on their on-going house construction in one expensive subdivision here in QC. Just recently, she mentioned something about buying a P150,000 sofa for their future living room! Depende ba sa specialization ng doktor ang kinikita nya?

Jourdan said...

...My officemate's husband is a young military doctor and I think he's doing well financially...

The keyword here is MILITARY. Can you spell C-O-R-R-U-P-T?

Anonymous said...

Jourdan, I was thinking maybe all her husband's patients are rich. I don't know how a military doctor can be corrupt. I honestly don't have any idea how. I'm just overwhelmed by their wealth. It confuses me no end why a lot of doctors are going abroad as nurses. Hindi makuntento sa yaman?

rey said...

to anonymous. It depends on your specialty. If he is a surgeon/ob or anesthesiologist they can earn well. Plus in the military, there are "ways" to earn more. Especially if they are officers (all doctors are).
Most new doctors earn 8K to 15K per month during residency (yung iba allowance lang). Few doctors are rich but if you love your job, it does not matter.

Anonymous said...

Doctors in the Philippines are poorly paid. I dont blame them for going out. It is better for them.

Anonymous said...

To Rey or anybody, would it be possible for a cardiologist to earn 100 thousand pesos a month? This is an honest question.

rey said...

To anonymous (RE: Cardiologist): It depends. Very few cardiologist (you have to be at least an interventional cardiologist-those doing invasive procedures) can consistently earn 100K pesos a month (but possible). If they are earning that much, it would be really crazy to leave.

Anonymous said...

Thank you, Rey. That explains the wealth of someone I know. I think he's only in his late thirties. So young, so filthy rich. hehe (I'm not sure though if he's an interventional cardiologist.)

jagged said...

i am a nursing student and i dream of becoming a doctor..there's nothing that i can do about politics, if the government couldnt help us..then there's nothing that we can do about it..or maybe we can just pray for them to help us..and who knows? anyway..the reason why i want to become a doctor is to help other people without getting into politics and this is the only way that i can think of..i dont blame doctors if they want to be a nurse to work abroad..i know how hard it is, how hard medical training is and they dont get the salary that they deserve..but they have no idea what ill give to be in their position..to be a doctor..i just wish the best for our doctors..whatever the path they choose,..once a doctor, always a doctor...

maja said...

im a registered nurse and is currently working as a clinical instrutor. i dreamed of being a doctor but since nursing is in demand, i planned to go abroad to fulfill my dream in becoming a doctor. if i gain high salary i can pursue my dream. goin abroad has an advantage as well. nurses abroad can help their family by helping them financially.

sad love story said...

i think doctors should go and become a nurse there, they dont have to think twice , just go there

ex-nurse said...

i've been a nurse in the States for a long time. but now, i am in medical school. and i'm very happy.

i will not judge doctors who shift to nursing after many years of practice. they may feel the same knot in the stomach that i've been feeling all these years, a knot of unhappiness with the current state of things- whether it be the current income and benefits, current working conditions (co-workers, staffing, equipment), current opportunities for advancement, and just overall satisfaction in a job where you could say you love and you will lovingly commit to doing for the rest of your life.

i made so much money as a nurse. but i wasn't happy doing it. nursing was not what i wanted to do forever.

maybe many of these doctors missed their true calling, to be nurses. Maybe if they have the chance to take back the years, they would have spent ten years less in school to find what they were really looking for.

but let's just be honest about one thing that unless you're a Hilton, your decision to switch to nursing boils to one thing- money made you switch gears.

Anonymous said...

I sometimes see patients for an HMO based in Guam, so I receive PF in dollars. However, they are based on Philippine rates! So I would checks for 7 or 8 dollars. It is pathetic. I would rather receive payments in pesos, than those demeaning dollar checks.

That said, life here in the Philippines is great if your standards for contentment are not that high. We have it easier here. We have time for our leisure, unlike most people in the States.

Anonymous said...

i'm a nurse and i wanted to pursue medicine to be a doctor....:(
i took up nursing primarily because of great opportunities abroad.
I still want to fulfill my dream.. So for some doctors out there who wants to be a nurse... hope we can exchange shoes :))

Anonymous said...

It has been my ultimate dream to become a doctor, so I took up nursing as a pre med course.Eventually,I become one, and currently working in Bahrain.

It keeps on bothering me whether I should still continue for studies because I'm already earning here enough for myself.I don't know if my idealism to be called a "doc" might changes if I'm just being paid that low.

I hope I can get opinions from our doctors.

Thank you very much indeed..