In the third episode of the series “Our Voices”, we hear the story of John, a Filipino nurse who came to work in the UK after eight years’ nursing experience in his home country. He talks about the challenges he faced in order to make his healthcare dreams become reality and the sacrifices that he has had to make along the way.
John is one of the 20,000 Filipinos who have left their homes in order to work as nurses in a foreign country in order to achieve a better standard of living. Initially, John’s dream was to become a doctor but the costs involved in the education and training required were impossible to meet: “I became a nurse, not because I wanted to become a nurse but out of necessity… the real dream for me was to become a doctor.” Although John was not able to achieve the full extent of his dreams, he sends money back to the Philippines for the benefit of his younger brother, who is now in a position to make the career choice that John was not.
But even the goal of becoming a nurse has not come easy. John describes the prohibitively high costs involved in taking the English exams which were required before he was able to practise nursing in the UK. He also describes the ordeal of having to fly across the Philippines in order to reach the testing centre. Having to go through such obstacles to reach his present position has helped to put John’s day-to-day experiences into perspective: “Whenever I have a hard day, whenever I feel frustrated with my work, whenever I feel I have been on the receiving end of a racial micro-agression, I just keep telling myself, the things I have now, I was only praying for this two years ago.”
Despite the fact that John’s prayers were answered, his experiences in the UK have not all been easy. He describes feeling frustrated during his initial training as nurses with much less experience than himself were able to care for patients in ways he was prevented from doing . He also describes some of the hostility he has had to face from patients due to his immigrant status. However, he has developed a tough exterior through following the example of his colleagues: “If you’re tough, no-one’s going to try to bully you.”
Toughness, along with empathy and the ability to adapt is what has helped to make John’s transition to life in the UK so successful: “the key to a successful career in healthcare is courage”. John demonstrates how he has shown the courage to challenge his own prejudices as well as the prejudices of those around him in order to embody the values that the NHS holds so dear: “Being in the UK has broadened the level of acceptance in me… We should not judge the race, we should judge the individual.”
If you’d like to learn more about the Our Voices in the NHS podcast, go to www.ourvoicespodcast.com