It is not unusual to hear stories of Filipino nurses who found a career in a profession other than nursing. Some go on to become medical representatives, nursing educators, and medical writers. While others choose a completely different career path and become call centre agents.

This career choice is not uncommon in a country like the Philippines where Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) companies thrive, while the number of jobs for Filipino nurses do not seem to increase year after year. In fact, according to the Philippine Nurses Association, about 200,000 registered nurses in the Philippines are either not practicing the nursing profession or jobless.

Staying focused on the nursing ambition

For registered nurse and former call centre agent, Priscilla Gobuyan, she did not stop her quest for a healthcare job just because she landed a career opportunity in a different industry.

“As nurses, we should map out our career plans so we do not lose sight of our dream, which is to become full-fledged nurses,” she tells MIMS. She said that while she found her career unexpectedly starting in the BPO industry, nursing as a career path was always the priority.

During the tail end of Priscilla’s ten-month stint as a call centre agent, she began her training for intravenous therapy. Right after this, she put in her notice to her employer, and applied for a nursing job in St Paul’s Hospital.

Now on her third year of working for the said hospital, Priscilla expressed her love for her profession despite its shortcomings, such as the stress, the risk of exposure to different diseases, the unjust compensation, and the long work hours.

Priscilla Gobuyan 3

The reality of a nurse’s day

She sent MIMS some of the tasks nurses in her practice have to do in a day:

7:00AM – Rundown of patient assignments, census, scheduled procedures and discharges
8:00AM – Rounds for census of 26 rooms: checking of IVs, vital signs, giving reminders for pending laboratory tests, providing dietary guidelines and medications
9AM-12PM – Joining doctors’ daily rounds and carrying out orders from them; Helping patients go to have their scheduled procedures done such as going to the operating room, dialysis, and endoscopy units; Administering mid-day medicines Handling paper work loads.
1PM-4PM – Assist patients for hospital discharge, this involves accomplishing hospital requirements, and giving instructions for home medication; Making sure that rooms are available for incoming patients.
5PM-6PM – Submitting patient reports to the supervisor, managing patient assignment for the next shift, and getting ready for workload handover.
7PM – Patient assignments endorsement to next shift.

Priscilla said that this is merely a glimpse of what a nurse’s typical day is like, as patient demands differ based on the severity of their conditions.

Patient care as a motivation

According to Priscilla, it is not just the working conditions that make it hard for nurses to keep themselves motivated in their job. She said that one of the challenges nurses in the Philippines face is the misconception people have of their profession.

“Some patients would treat us as if we are nannies, they would boss us around like we do not know what we are doing,” she lamented.

In spite of these, Priscilla still finds the drive to care for her patients, saying, “I have to constantly remind myself of my purpose as a nurse — to provide care for my patients and help improve their health.”

Priscilla Gobuyan 2

She also said that her care for her patients goes to a deeper, more personal level, “For me, it is not just a job, it is my life… I treat my patients as if they are my own family.

“There is no other profession that could give me fulfilment other than being a nurse,” she said, “It is priceless to see your patients’ health improve. A simple expression of gratitude from them is enough.” MIMS

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