Migrant Nurses Speak Up: The Experience of Working Abroad
Many can attest to this “Nursing is not an easy profession”. Aside from dealing with certain diseases and conditions, there are a lot of situations that will test you along the way: demanding patients’ folks, toxic duty shifts, domineering doctors, stressful co-workers, and life and death situations. These experiences may either make or break you, either make you a strong and wiser nurse or an unhappy worker. And at some point, when they get most nerve-wracking, you might even find yourself considering to quit.
At times like these, you turn to your strength – your family, your home. A day off, or even just a glance at them gives you the much needed energy to go on, no matter how hard it gets. But what would happen if your strength and inspiration gets taken away from you, too. With low compensation available in some countries, it has become common for nurses to move to other countries offering higher salaries to work and support their families.
We know it’s hard, that there’s tons of adjustments to make. But what we know is only limited to what we hear from others. How is it really like working in a foreign country? To be away from home? To act as a superhero to others while away from the people who give you strength? How is the life being a migrant nurse?
“It is a fulfillment”
Probably, it is such a fulfilment in one’s nursing career to work in a foreign country and be part of an amazing team and look after patients with diverse culture. It is challenging in the sense that there is a difference in practice as what we have been used to especially here because they are more on evidence based and they use different abbreviations and terms in comparison with our American-based books. The other challenge is communication because patients come from different places with varied languages so it can be difficult to explain thus interpreters are needed. Ultimately, it is being away from your loved ones and the comfort of home that’s really hard to bear most of the times. Thankfully, the help of new friends and the liberty to travel to different places that you only once imagined in books make it easier to cope and being able to provide for your family. –Jenie Almalbis, RN MAN
“Keep your head high and persevere to succeed”
Going abroad is not easy, being away from home and your family. But then I had no other option but to go overseas to find better job opportunities. So I decided to go abroad to earn more and to help my family financially. I am currently working as a Rig Medic in an Oil Drilling Company in Saudi Arabia. I went through several trainings necessary before my exposure to rigs. Well aside from being homesick, working as a Rig Medic is a tough job. It is difficult to be an effective emergency responder at the same time trying to keep yourself safe from dangers and unforeseen disaster. The risks are unavoidable that is why safety is our priority. It requires your full focus and dedication to work in a different and risky working environment.
It’s a struggle at the start but at the end of the day you have to continue pursuing your career path. It can be tough but we just have to keep our head high and persevere to succeed. – Norlieto Lamayo, RN
A mix of happiness and sadness
I feel both happy and sad working abroad. I feel sad because I am away from my family and friends. I also need to adjust to their culture, their food and way of living. But I’m happy with my job here as I can say that I am well-compensated and the experience and skills that I acquire here is something that I can be proud of. – Louie Golero, RN
“Achieving something from nothing is the best feeling”
As a first time nurse working abroad, luckily I do not feel homesick that much. But when stress and pressure strike you will feel all the sickness x2. I still won’t exchange what I do now for something since achieving something from nothing is the best feeling. – Jona Daradar, RN
“You have to leave your comfort zone and sanctuary“
Working abroad to earn money is hard because you have to leave your comfort zone and sanctuary. You have to adjust to the culture and the people you encounter during the way, especially for the first few months. Learning their dialects, finding your way back to your flat after work, memorizing what bus number to ride, or even looking a restaurant to eat a Filipino dish are just some of the common problems an OFW (Overseas Filipino Worker) faces in his so called “new journey”. But we all just have to be strong and think in a positive way, luckily I am working in a safe and clean place where I can go around freely and enjoy myself just to lower stress after work. I may not have all the money in the world, but as long as my salary can supply my needs, as long as I can buy the simple things that I want, stroll anywhere and help my family, I’m already happy and contented with that. – Ranier Olendo, RN
“It would make me a better person”
When I first stepped foot in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, I never expected that I’d be working here, if not for my mother who insisted that I and my sister should be together because we are from the same profession, we are both nurses.
I’d say at first it was very hard adjusting with everything (time, people, language) but as time went by, I managed to fit in. Working abroad was a difficult yet very challenging task to do. You have to deal with different people with different beliefs, argue with the doctor if his/her order’s harmful to the patient, deal with the patients calmly even if they want to slap your face already, hold your anger even if at the back of your mind you want to scream. But, on the other hand, working here teaches me how to be more patient and grateful instead of complaining, to be responsible in all my actions, to be vocal on my rights and especially to be strong and courageous in facing every obstacle that comes along the way. Truly a migrant nurse is a living hero, as we live and deal with so many sorrows and agonies. But what makes us stronger is knowing that we have a family back at home waiting for us. It gives us more strength and faith that someday we’ll all be together. Despite of all the trials and challenges, I know it would make me a better person. Truly, experience is the best teacher. –Sheena Lane Aguihap, RN
“It’s like starting a new life”
Being a migrant nurse, is a nerve wrecking experience, yet I consider it a life adventure. Working abroad, you get to experience being far away from your loved ones, getting tired, working overtime, taking care of yourself when you’re sick, doing your own laundry, cooking for yourself, adjusting and getting used to the different weather, food selection, culture changes and how to mingle as well as distance yourself from people surrounding you, even your colleagues.
It’s like starting a new life on your own feet. But, somehow I can say it’s worth it, not just because I get to travel and explore a different country, I taught myself how to be independent and become multilingual, I also made new friends, enhanced my skills and learned new things, was able to help my family and give them such things that could make them happy. In that way, I’m thankful and I can say I’m blessed. –Chary Mae Morguia, RN
Image (c) Rappler.com / Raffy De Guzman