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Balik-Tanaw 2023: Filipino UK Nurses Reflection



As the year draws to a close, we find ourselves reflecting on a myriad of experiences as Filipino nurses in the UK. The diverse aspects of our journey, whether it’s personal, professional, or cultural, have shaped us into who we are now. 


The Filipino Nurses Community has been a great support to Filipinos in the UK and to those aspiring to fulfill their dreams to work abroad – a source of relevant information to some, an outlet for strong emotions to rant and complain, a vessel to share inspiring stories “to inspire but not to brag”, spill their embarrassing but amusing stories whilst navigating life in the UK and finally to find comfort and strength for those dealing with anxiety and depression. 


From the US vs UK dilemma to navigating the complexities of mental health resilience, finding love in a foreign land, setting financial boundaries for their families back home, dealing with flatmates and difficult colleagues, and the unique path to becoming a nurse in the UK. Through these reflections, we gain insights that define the Filipino spirit in the face of triumphs and challenges.


UK vs. US Nursing Career - Which is better? 


For many Filipino nurses, the decision to work abroad involves a careful consideration of various factors. In comparing the UK and the US, our members share their perspectives on work environments, career opportunities, and the cultural nuances that influence their choices. Every personal narrative provides an understanding of the unique challenges and rewards associated with each country. 


Deciding between nursing in the UK and the US is like finding the right flavor for your cup of tea. In the UK, we’ve got the NHS with healthcare perks, work-life balance, and lots of family time. However, you might feel a bit light in the wallet compared to the US. Over there, it's all about the generous compensations and better chances to level up professionally, even though you might be squeezing your holidays a bit.


It's a personal call—whether you vibe with the laid-back UK style or you're ready to chase the American dream. It's not just a job choice; it's about finding work that fits your needs, values, and aspirations.


Mental Health Resilience as OFW


Homesickness, adjustment to work, and immersing ourselves culturally – can be overwhelming, and working abroad often takes a toll on mental health. To our members who bravely reached out and opened up about their feelings of loneliness, inadequacy, anxiety, and depression, we know it’s not easy for you and other people have offered support even just a simple conversation to lighten the burden they carry.


Some have shared their strategies for building and maintaining resilience. From coping mechanisms to fostering a supportive community, your stories underscore the importance of prioritising mental well-being in the face of the challenges inherent in being an Overseas Filipino Worker (OFW). Let’s continue to support each other as we navigate how to live and thrive in the UK. 



Finding Love in a Foreign Country


Navigating relationships in a foreign land presents both challenges and opportunities. Some have shared their experiences in building romantic connections, balancing work and personal life, and embracing cultural differences. These stories paint a vivid picture of love and companionship flourishing amidst the complexities of life in the UK.


Whether you have found your "forever" in an "AFAM” or “Kapwa Kabayan”, we’re wishing everyone happiness and everlasting connection that will fill your hearts with love and affection. 


Setting Boundaries in Financial Support


One of the enduring responsibilities of Filipino nurses abroad is supporting their families back home. Balancing the desire to provide financial assistance with setting necessary boundaries becomes a delicate task. Through practical tips and personal anecdotes, nurses share their insights into maintaining a healthy balance between personal and familial obligations.


Being a breadwinner is a blessing to families back home but make sure you communicate to them that you have financial goals too. Whilst you are helping them, they should also help themselves to be financially capable of supporting themselves. We know it’s not easy, but by setting boundaries and openly communicating your aspirations to them, you can meet in the middle and set a plan for both parties to improve your lives. 


Journey to Become a Nurse in the UK


Embarking on a nursing career in the UK involves a unique journey, complete with challenges and triumphs. From CBT and English Language Test to OSCE, where theoretical knowledge meets the practical application in a simulated clinical setting, it’s not a piece of cake to many. 


The road to obtaining the coveted PIN (Professional Identification Number) is undoubtedly arduous, often accompanied by sleepless nights and moments of self-doubt. However, it's crucial to recognize that these challenges are stepping stones, not stumbling blocks. Each obstacle surmounted signifies a step closer to realising the dream of becoming a UK nurse. 


Filipino nurses in our group recount their experiences, from navigating the intricacies of obtaining their NMC pin to adapting to a new healthcare system. Their stories served as inspiration for aspiring nurses and a testament that it is possible to thrive and succeed in a foreign work environment.


Encouragement echoes from those who have walked this path before. As we navigate through the hurdles, it's essential to embrace the journey, celebrate small victories, and remember that every difficulty conquered is a testament to their commitment to making a positive impact not only in the healthcare field but also to other people’s lives. 



Resilience and Adaptability


Resilience and adaptability are hallmarks of the Filipino spirit, and nowhere is this more evident than in the stories of Filipino nurses in the UK. Overcoming challenges, adapting to new professional landscapes, and embracing personal growth, everyone has embodied the strength required to succeed in a foreign setting.


In the context of Filipino UK nurses, resilience is our ability to bounce back from adversity. Whether it's facing the demands of a rigorous healthcare system, overcoming homesickness, or navigating cultural differences, Filipino nurses exhibit a remarkable capacity to endure and emerge stronger. 


Adaptability, on the other hand, is the ability to thrive in a new environment. Adapting to different healthcare protocols, technological advancements, and cultural nuances is no small feat, yet we do so with grace and a willingness to embrace change. The adaptability of Filipino nurses extends beyond the workplace. From adjusting to a new climate to immersing themselves in local communities, numerous stories highlight the flexibility required to not only survive but flourish in a foreign land.


Filipino UK nurses serve as beacons of inspiration for future generations. Our experiences offer valuable lessons on how to confront the unknown with courage, learn from setbacks, and carry on with determination.


As we bid farewell to another year, the Filipino UK nurses' reflections serve as a puzzle of shared experiences, a collection of triumphs and challenges faced in their journeys. From choosing where to practice nursing to navigating personal relationships and financial responsibilities, we exemplify the resilience and adaptability that have come to define the Filipino diaspora. 


Looking ahead to the future, may every story inspire the community to face the unknown with optimism, determination, and a profound sense of unity.


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