The Filipino Nurse in a Nutshell

Ernesse Berlin
May 9, 2018
Xilium VMAs

The Philippines has been exporting nurses from the late 1970’s up to the present. Twenty five percent of the nurses in the world are Filipinos. In 2017 alone, almost ten thousand new nurses have passed the local board exam.

Brief History of Nursing in the Philippines

The country was under the Spanish rule for a long time before America took over under the Treaty of Paris. Western styled education was developed and offered to the country, prompting English as a medium for communication. The malaria and cholera outbreak of 1902 happened that it lead to a shortage of American nurses. Filipina women were employed as Volunteer Auxiliary Contract Nurses. In the next year, the Pensionado Act made it easy for qualified Filipinos to study in the US. This included the auxiliary nurses who then proceeded to become the first batch of Filipino nurses.

Their role in the Second World War was vital to the Americans. Their ability to adapt to any situation and willingness to work made them indispensable. This continues on to current times where the need for a nurse is steadily rising.

Culture of Care

A unique characteristic among the Filipino is our innate need to take care of one another. This is a prevalent matter and can be seen in the family units. Not only will you meet the mother, father and children, be prepared to meet the grandparents, the uncles and the aunts. It’s normal for children to stay with their family even after marriage. This in turn makes it normal for children to take in aging grandparents.

Basic family structure means so much here, it is often complex and is built up of different interloping relationships. In some cases, family doesn’t always mean blood but just a strong connection between people with little to no relation.

More Patients and Less Nurses

Countries like Saudi Arabia, Japan, the United Kingdom, and the United States are in need of nurses. In line with a study from the National Institute of Health, the current population of those 60 years and older make up 8.5% of the total. In America alone, the number of geriatric patients will triple by 2050.

Data gathered by the National Council State Board of Nursing (NCSBN) shows that there are less people taking the NCLEX each year. Comparing the NCLEX fact sheet of 2007 and 2017, there is a notable decline in test takers.

Filipino nurses plug this hole as they readily come to fill in positions in the hospital.  


Nurses are built on the idea of care. They are the nudge that makes sure doctors are on track. They assist patients with their needs and help them get on their feet. They are the cogs that help the hospital run like clockwork, twenty-four hours a day and seven days a week. A Filipino nurse takes all of that and bundles it with the care that is natural.

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