The moment Filipinos finish school, they immediately take on supporting roles in their families. For nurses, hospitals aren’t the most lucrative workplaces in the country. That’s why Kathrina ventured into many professional fields before pursuing her nursing career.
Different Jobs; Same Goal
Kath’s family was still recovering from the cost of the course and licensure exam. Hospitals offer few job vacancies in a year and that means her license doesn’t guarantee a decent income at that time. To be productive, Kath entered the business process outsourcing (BPO) scene.
Iloilo City (where our VMAs are based) is a booming BPO destination, making it easy for Kath to secure a spot in three companies. More than earning a decent salary, Kath honed her English communication skills working as a customer service representative (CSR).
The First Step
Three years later, Kath began yearning to practice her profession. In order to gain hospital experience, one must either volunteer or settle for less than $200 per month. The latter seems bleak as hospitals only offer limited slots to hundreds of Ilonggo (the term for citizens of Iloilo) nurses.
“Before I volunteer,” Kath said, “I need to save enough money for my allowance. My parents will surely help out, but I also have younger siblings to think about.” The competition for volunteer positions is just as tough in city hospitals. So nine miles from the city, Kath volunteered at the region’s sanitarium.
A Bigger Heart
Having had enough funds and encouragement from family, Kath took a big leap in volunteering. Overseas employers require at least two years of experience, so Kath had to bear long commutes going to the sanitarium and back, no income, and shifting work schedules.
The sanitarium used to be a leprosarium until 2005 when it expanded to provide other major medical services. The leprosarium has become more of a custodial facility for leprosy patients as most of them were outcasts by their communities. “The center is their new home,” Kath explains, “they were warned never to return because of the persisting stigma of the disease.”
Kath describes the leprosarium as the most laid back facility she’s ever assigned in but the atmosphere feels otherwise. These patients have nowhere else to go. They’re outcasts of the communities they once called home. Science has found a way to cure this ancient disease but not the knowledge and beliefs of the people.
A Bigger Plan
Nurses who plan to work abroad go to the Middle East for their initial foreign employment. Gaining experience abroad makes their entrance to countries like the UK and the US faster.
Kath flew to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and worked there for almost two years. There she learned to be independent, especially in cooking. “Cooking was the toughest,” Kath began, “I had to learn from scratch so I can eat real food and avoid instant meals.” Unfortunately, her contract ended earlier when the polyclinic she worked in closed down due to conflicts among the owners.
Seeing her colleagues lose their jobs made it difficult for Kath to leave. She has grown to love the people and her workplace but it’s time to part ways. In June 2016, Kath returned to the Philippines.
Home is the Place to Be
Back in Iloilo, Kath reapplied for a volunteer position in the sanitarium. She didn’t consider applying in BPOs as she hoped to find a paying job as a nurse, until she came across an online ad looking for virtual medical assistants.
Now on her two years at Xilium, Kath is enjoying the perks of a work-life-balance while practising her profession. She pursues new hobbies like photography and enjoys outdoor activities. Kath loves taking pictures of food, supports eco-friendly products, and delights in the beauty of nature.
Kath is who and what she is now because of the people she met, companies she worked in, and places she set foot in. She learned to appreciate every role, task, and situation and took them as opportunities for personal and character development.