Updated: Jun 26
Each of us has a unique story that led us to our chosen path. As OFW nurses, our reasons for embarking on this extraordinary journey may differ, but the underlying desire for success unites us all. From the moment we set foot on the path of becoming registered nurses in the Philippines to the day we boarded that plane, leaving behind family and friends, we share a common aspiration for happiness and triumph in our chosen profession.
They say that success is born from struggle, and this rings true in our lives as OFW nurses. Our journey is defined by the challenges we face and overcome, moulding us into stronger individuals and paving the way for our ultimate success. In this article, we will explore the diverse STRUGGLES and WINS encountered by OFW nurses, giving voice to the hurdles you have faced or may still be encountering.
Struggles Of An OFW Nurse
I know most of you will agree with me if I say that homesickness is the number one struggle for OFW nurses. Especially to those who have never been away from their family, friends and loved ones before. It’s not easy to start living and working in a foreign country for the first time. I know some people who tried their best to work abroad, but once they were living the dream, they decided to go back to the Philippines because they couldn't handle the loneliness of being away from their loved ones. Working overseas is not for the faint of heart. It requires a lot of courage to overcome the strong urge to be with your family during holidays and important events. But sometimes, you can't just fly back home because you might not have any vacation leave available or the cost of the airline ticket is too high. It's a constant struggle, and the feeling of homesickness is always there, reminding you of the sacrifices you made for a better future.
To overcome homesickness as an OFW nurse, try these tips. Firstly, stay connected with your family and loved ones back home through technology. Regular video calls and messaging can help bridge the distance and maintain emotional connections. Secondly, build a support system by connecting with fellow OFW nurses or expatriates who understand the challenges of being away from home. Join local communities or social groups where you can find support, friendship, and a sense of belonging. Thirdly, create a comfortable and personalized living space in your new environment. Surround yourself with familiar items, photographs, or mementoes that remind you of your loved ones. This can provide a sense of familiarity and comfort. Lastly, engage in activities that help you adapt and explore your new surroundings. Embrace the local culture, try new hobbies, and make new friends. By staying connected, building a support system, creating a comforting living space, and embracing new experiences, you can overcome homesickness and find a sense of belonging in your new environment.
Cultural and Language Barriers…
Adapting to a new culture and work environment can be overwhelming. OFW nurses may face challenges in understanding local customs, traditions, and work practices. Language barriers can also hinder effective communication with patients, colleagues, and superiors, making it difficult to provide optimal care and build professional relationships. Starting in a new environment can be uncomfortable because everything is unfamiliar, and it's challenging to know how to fit in. But with time and effort, we learn and adjust, becoming more familiar with the culture, work practices, and language. It may be tough at first, but great determination helps us thrive and grow personally and professionally.
To overcome cultural and language barriers as an OFW nurse, effort and determination are key. It can be difficult to adjust to a new culture and work environment, but you can progressively get over these obstacles by becoming fully immersed in the local culture, going to cultural events, and honouring their traditions. Language barriers can be addressed through language courses and exchange programs to improve communication skills. Patience and persistence are crucial throughout this process. With determination, you can thrive and grow both personally and professionally as OFW nurses.
Arriving in your desired country to work as a nurse doesn't automatically guarantee that you can immediately begin your nursing journey there. For instance, in the UK, you need to pass the Objective Structured Clinical Examination (OSCE) to be recognized as a nurse. This is one of the initial struggles faced by OFW nurses: the process of obtaining licensure and accreditation in a foreign country.
The requirements and procedures can vary significantly from their home country, demanding meticulous preparation and dedication. Language proficiency exams, licensure examinations, and documentation verification can pose significant challenges. Each country has its own set of rules and regulations governing their healthcare systems. Familiarising yourself with these specific policies is crucial in ensuring compliance and eligibility to practice as a nurse in your chosen destination.
To overcome professional challenges as an OFW nurse, conduct thorough research on licensure requirements, seek guidance from experienced professionals, improve language skills, join review programs, and embrace continuous learning. These steps will help you navigate the licensure process, adapt to the healthcare system, and enhance your chances of success in your nursing career abroad.
Discrimination and Bias…
There have been stories about discrimination against OFW nurses which is an unfortunate reality that we need to face. Although it is not limited to internationally trained nurses as it can happen to any staff member, they are more vulnerable to discrimination and bullying.
Discrimination comes in many forms, it can be unequal treatment compared to local colleagues or instances of derogatory comments, exclusion or even acts of harassment. These are stressful and may cause low self-esteem and confidence for OFW nurses. However, it is important to recognize that discrimination and bias are not reflective of the worth or capabilities of OFW nurses. They will not define who you are, OFW nurses are resilient professionals who have overcome numerous obstacles just to pursue their careers abroad.
To overcome discrimination and bias as an OFW nurse, remember these tips: seek support from professionals and organisations, educate others about your skills and contributions, maintain confidence in your abilities, and report instances of discrimination when necessary. Stay resilient and focused on your goals, knowing that discrimination does not define your worth or capabilities.
Wins Of An OFW Nurse
Financial stability is what we all aim for on the day that we decide to leave our loved ones behind and take a great leap to live and work in a foreign land that we know nothing about. Achieving financial stability becomes our ultimate goal. We are driven by the desire to enhance the lives of our families back home. As OFW nurses, it is a remarkable accomplishment to fulfil dreams such as owning a house, building savings, or starting our own business to ensure a sustainable livelihood. We also consider it as one of our wins when we’re able to make investments that secure a bright future for our children and loved ones.
Achieving financial stability as an OFW nurse requires setting clear goals, creating a budget, saving consistently, investing wisely, and staying disciplined. Define your short-term and long-term financial objectives. Create a budget to track your income and expenses, giving priority to essential costs and allocating a portion for savings. Start saving early and make it a habit to regularly set aside a portion of your income. Explore suitable investment options to grow your wealth over time. It is important to make responsible financial decisions, avoid unnecessary debt, and review your progress regularly.
Working as an OFW nurse brings opportunities for professional growth. Nurses gain exposure to different healthcare systems, technologies, and practices, enhancing their skills and knowledge. They learn new techniques and work with experienced professionals, expanding their expertise. Their experience with advanced healthcare technologies and diverse patient care settings makes them more competitive in the job market.
This growth opens doors to better career prospects, promotions, and leadership roles. It also fosters a lifelong commitment to staying updated with the latest medical advancements, benefiting both the individual nurse and the nursing profession as a whole.
To achieve professional growth, remember these key tips: Embrace learning opportunities, stay updated with new information, and invest in continuous education. Build a strong network of healthcare professionals for support and collaboration.
Contribution to the community is a significant aspect of the work of OFW nurses. The role goes beyond providing healthcare services; they contribute to the overall well-being and improved health outcomes of individuals and communities. Making a positive impact on the lives of patients requires delivering quality care. Dedication and expertise help in addressing healthcare needs and improving the overall healthcare system in their host countries. This sense of fulfilment and knowing that they are making a difference in the lives of others can be a significant win for OFW nurses.
To achieve professional growth as an OFW nurse, embrace new experiences and commit to continuous learning. Adapt to different healthcare systems, technologies, and practices. Take advantage of opportunities to gain exposure and enhance your skills. This opens doors to better career prospects and advancement in the future. Embrace lifelong learning and be open to new experiences for success as an OFW nurse.
Cultural exchange is a significant aspect of being an OFW nurse, as it provides an opportunity to engage with diverse cultures and work alongside colleagues from different backgrounds. This immersion in a new culture allows nurses to expand their horizons and develop a deep sense of cultural sensitivity. By embracing and appreciating different customs, traditions, and perspectives, OFW nurses foster a greater understanding of global diversity and cultivate a spirit of acceptance and tolerance. This cultural exchange enriches their personal growth and contributes to their ability to provide compassionate and culturally competent care to patients from various backgrounds.
To achieve cultural exchange as an OFW nurse, actively engage with the local community, embrace cultural differences, and show genuine interest in learning about customs and traditions. Build relationships with colleagues from diverse backgrounds and participate in local events. Learning the local language demonstrates respect and commitment. Embracing diversity fosters cultural sensitivity and enhances the ability to provide compassionate care to patients from different backgrounds.
Each OFW nurse has a unique story that led them to their chosen path. While their reasons may vary, the desire for success unites them all. The journey of an OFW nurse showcases resilience, determination, and the pursuit of a better future.
If you're an OFW nurse or have experienced a similar journey, we would love to hear from you. Your story has the power to inspire, uplift, and connect with others who may be going through similar challenges or triumphs. Share your experiences, struggles, wins, and the valuable lessons you've learned along the way. Together, let's create a community of support, understanding, and encouragement.
Your voice matters, and by sharing your story, you can make a difference in the lives of others. Join us in celebrating the remarkable journeys of OFW nurses and let your story be heard.