The mid 2010s found the nursing industry in bad shape. The sudden collapse of the nursing market left many either unemployed or taking jobs below their specialization. Nurses in the Philippines had to adjust as work opportunities promised abroad were slowly shut down as local hospitals and clinics had been filled to the brim all over the country.
Nursing graduates in later years had to scramble to find alternative careers, or getting further degrees unrelated to their practice. Then there are those who moonlighted or worked other professions to pass the time until a new opportunity came along.
In Iloilo City, nurses often end up working as call center agents. Most would take tech support night shifts to free up their day for volunteer work. Because they are trained in patient care, they are a preferable choice for employers when it comes to rough customers and the inevitable stress that goes with the outsourcing lifestyle. While not many are particularly fluent in English, they are capable of gradually building up this skill. Although a few do end up going back to the practice of nursing, some who enjoy the work would rather stay and build their careers there.
Other nurses find alternative jobs as educators because of their knowledge in the biological sciences. Schools, tutorial centers, and training and development institutions hire nurses to teach and tutor students, design modules, prepare reviewers, and even formulate questions for the next year’s exam. Nurses can also find themselves falling in love with teaching and, before they know it, a lifelong career is in the works.
Since the decreased demand for nurses in the market, they have also worked as personal assistants for medical practitioners. Nurses are considerably more knowledgeable of and quicker to adapt to the medical jargon than assistants with different degrees. In this line of work, they get to practice some semblance of their profession and are updated with the happenings in the medical world. Because of experiences, some nurses are inspired to pursue degrees in medicine. In the Philippines, the nursing curriculum broadly albeit briskly covers several subjects and topics, rounding them off as jacks-of-all-trades in the medical field; nursing can be used as a legitimate springboard into a degree in medicine.
Some nurses would alternatively work in government departments such as the Department of Health. Nurses believe that work experiences in government agencies help them secure a job in general hospitals or government health facilities. There is another side to it: given their training in dealing with various personalities, nurses are found to make for very good social workers. They thrive in field work, are good with people, and are certainly no strangers to the pressures of tedious paperwork. The government is only now realizing an untapped potential in hiring nurses as social workers. Many non-governmental agencies sponsoring charities and educational foundations also prefer nurses because of their work ethic and resilience.
All in all, nurses have had a difficult falling out with the labor market in the Philippines. The mid 2010s have found nurses leaping from one job to another just to make ends meet, often landing in unexpected places far from the shores of nursing practice. While this has put several dreams on hold, the Filipino spirit hasn’t let this unfortunate circumstance triumph. Nurses have since utilized their training and knowledge to make the most out of the job opportunities that come and go. Not many get to be nurses in the end – and although we cannot say for sure if they are happy, the pursuit of happiness is something that we Filipinos consider noble and worthy of a good story in itself.