Written By: Kathy Nguyen
Why do we hear the racial stereotype of “why most of the nurses are Filipino?” Well, the United States is a primary destination country for Filipino nurse to migrate because the U.S had a shortage of nurses. According to the scholarly article, “Nurse migration and its implications for Philippine hospitals” the three authors found out that 32.6% of the 100,000 overseas trained nurses working in the United States in 2000 were Filipino nurses from the Philippines. The Philippines is a great source country for many Filipino nurses working in the U.S because they were well educated and proficient in English. Economics, work-related, and social push and pull factors also stimulate the migration of Filipino nurses to the United States. Push factors for migrants are related to the dissatisfied conditions that motivate them to migrate to a better country such as low wages, poor living conditions, and poor working conditions. Pull factors for migrants are related to the satisfied conditions that attract them in the destination country such as higher pay, better working conditions, and better living conditions.
Low salary, no benefits, and lack of employment opportunities in the low-income country of the Philippines had “pushed” the nurses to migrate to the United States. The nurses would make $75-$200 per month working at health care facilities in the Philippines (Bach et al. 10). The nurses realize that making $75-$200 per month is nothing compared to the higher salary offered for nurses in the United States. The nurses in the Philippines would receive no benefits such as overtime pay, night shift differential, and holiday pay. This is tragic for the nurses because they work so hard to take care of their patients and they are not taken care of by their own employer. According to the scholarly article, “Managing Health Worker Migration: A Qualitative Study of the Philippine…” the authors found out that in 2000, there were 150,000 inexperienced and unemployed nurses in the Philippines (Dimaya at el. 6). This pushed the nurses to migrate to the U.S because they can’t find a job or get experience after finishing nursing school.
There is a high demand for nurses in the United States because of the low supply of nurses, which “pulled” the nurses from the Philippines to migrate to the United States. There is a low supply of nurses in the United States because the nurses are ageing and the limited capacity of nursing schools (Bonner at el. 3). There is a high demand of nurses in the United States because of the ageing population that needs medical care. The problem is that the shortage of nurses in the United States is increasing faster than the nurses are being produced in the United States. The Philippines is a great source country for Filipino nurses migration to the United States because the nurses were well-educated in college-degree programs and were able to speak and understand English, which met the United States’ requirements (Aiken at el. 75). Therefore, this was a great opportunity for the nurses from the Philippines to migrate to the United States because the United States is highly interested in recruiting nurses from the Philippines and the nurses wanted a job that the Philippines can’t offer.
A large number of studies showed that Filipino nurses mentioned that better remuneration encouraged and also “pulled” them to migrate to the United States (Bonner et al. 11). In the United States, nurses working at health care facilities were offered $3,000-$4,000 per month (Bach et al. 10). The attractive, higher pay for nurses in the United States evidently pulls the nurses from the Philippines to migrate there. Even though it was out of the Filipino nurses’ comfort zone and a drastic “life changing” experience to migrate to a foreign country, they had to do what is best for their future and children’s future. The Philippines was perceived as a country of “no future” because of the decline of the economy. However, with the economic pull factors of a high demand of nurses and higher pay in the United States, Filipino nurses are reassured that they have the financially ability to send their hard working money to their relatives back in the Philippines.
The work-related factors that “pushed” Filipino nurses to migrate to the U.S was because of poor working environment where there was violence in the work environment, risk of getting HIV/AIDS, lack of respect, and lack of protective equipment. Psychiatric patients physically abuse the nurses and the physicians verbally abuse the nurses making them dissatisfied working at their workplace in the Philippines, exhibiting lack of respect for the nurses (Needham et al. 59). The working environment at health care facilities consists of Filipino nurses getting stressed and injured from the verbal and physical abuse, delays in-patient care, patients getting restrained, which gives a negative image of nurses by parents and visitors (Needham et al. 59). Filipino nurses working at health care facilities in the Philippines would die from exposing themselves to infectious diseases such as HIV/AIDS because the health care facilities lacked medical protective equipment to protect the nurses. The saddened deaths of the nurses cause a work overload and a stressful working environment for other nurses. Nevertheless, there is a high nurse to patient ratio of 1:8 in the Philippines, meaning each nurse takes care of 8 patients (Cruda 123). Sadly, the nurses weren’t able to provide a quality care for their patients that they should be receiving. The high patient to nurse to patient ratio caused the nurses to work 16 hours a day instead of the regular 8 hours a day without overtime pay (Cruda 153).
The work-related factor that “pulled” the Filipino nurses to migrate to the United States because of the lower nurse to patient ratio, more options in working hours, and access to medical protective equipment. The nurse to patient ratio in the United States is 1:4, meaning each nurse takes care of 4 patients. The 1:4 nurses to patient ratio coherently shows that the Filipino nurses would feel less stressed working at the hospital and have less workload in the United States compared to the Philippines (Cruza 153). The Filipino nurses in the Philippines will be satisfied working in the U.S because they are able to control their work hours and work positions of part-time or full-time. The nurses can choose an 8-hour shift, 10-hour shift, or 12-hour shift (Wujcik 1). The hospitals in the United States are well funded so the nurses have access to protective equipment such as gloves, gowns, goggles, masks and face shields to prevent virus, bacteria, and diseases such ad HIV/AIDS.
A social factor that “pushed” the nurses to migrate to the United States was because of the poor living conditions in the Philippines due to extreme poverty. There would be areas that were unsanitary, lacked fresh water and electricity, and limited toilet facilities which made it difficult for the nurses and especially the Filipino community to live and work (Tuason 302). Lack of electricity negatively impacts the health, education, and the standard of living for Filipinos. According to the article, “Millions in PH don’t have access to clean water, toilets” nearly 7.5 million Filipinos use poor toilet facilities such as buckets and open put-latrines or don’t have their own toilet at home so they defecate in the fields, forests, bodies of water, and bushes. Nevertheless, the poor toilet facilities are unsanitary and defecate would go down the sewer and directly to the bodies of water. Filipinos in the urban areas would get diarrhea by desperately drinking the unsanitary, untreated water from the rivers, canals, and dams.
The “pull” factor was that the nurses wanted a “better quality of life.” There are street children in the Philippines “who are homeless, separated from their families, are out of school, and work to survive by begging, selling flowers, cigarettes or newspapers, sweat shop working and prostituting” (Tuason 309). The poor living conditions and the threat for their children encouraged the nurses to migrate to the US, which is a safer environment (Bonner et al. 12). The nurses, with motherly instincts, would want their children to have a better and safer life. Filipino nurses would migrate to the US because of the encouragement and comfort from their friends and family. The nurses would have friends from the Philippines in the United States so that would encourage them to go there because they had friends that are willing to give them a helping hand in case of a crisis (Garbayo and Maben 6). It was noted that family members, especially the mothers of the nurses influence them to not only migrate to the United States but also make a decision for them to become nurses. A Filipina nurse ID #09 stated, “I didn’t have the plan to be in nursing. What I wanted to be is an engineer but my mother told me it was better to take nursing like my sister.” Since the US had a high demand of nurses and Philippines was known as a great donor country of nurses, the mother knew that it was a great opportunity for her daughter to work abroad and live a better life.
Economics, work-related, and social push and pull factors stimulate the Filipino nurse migration from the Philippines to the United States. However, it is not fair for the Filipino nurses to leave their home country and family to another foreign country to have a better quality of life. The nurses should feel a sense of security in their own home country regardless. Therefore, the Philippine government should improve the nurse’s salary, benefits, working conditions, and standard of living.
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