As soon as a nurse finishes school, they have to take on a supporting role in their family. Hospitals have an oversupply of nurses so there aren’t many paid positions available in the country. That’s why Kathrina looked for other professional areas before deciding to pursue a nursing career.
Different Jobs; Same Goal
In the Philippines, school is a big financial undertaking and in Kath’s family they were still recovering from the cost of the courses and licensure exam. Since hospitals offered few jobs that year and her license didn’t guarantee a reasonable income, to be productive she looked to the business process outsourcing (BPO) industry.
Iloilo City is a growing BPO destination, which made it easier for Kath to secure offerst in three companies. Kath to maximal advantage of her position doing more than just earn a salary. She improved her English skills working as a customer service representative (CSR) for a US corporation.
The First Step
Three years later she still yearned to practice her profession. In the Philippines to get hospital experience, you have to either volunteer or settle for less a low wage. Even the low wage hospital positions are limited in number and nurses competing for them far outstrips the supply for Ilonggo(Iloilo) nurses.
“Before I volunteer,” Kath said, “I need to save enough money to build up a reserve. My parents will 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 saved money and with encouragement from family, Kath took a leap into volunteering. Overseas employers require two years of experience, so Kath made the long commutes to the sanitarium and back working shifting schedules.
The sanitarium is a place to treat leprosy and it expanded in 2005 to provide other medical services. The leprosarium has become a custodial facility for leprosy patients since many were outcast by their community. “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 worked but the staff carries a feeling of the important work. These patients have nowhere else to go. They’re outcasts of the communities they once called home. Even though science now has a cure for this ancient disease, it has not cured the stigma.
A Bigger Plan
Nurses who plan to work abroad often go to the Middle East for an initial foreign experience. Gaining international experience allows a smoother path to countries like the UK and the US.
Kath flew to the Saudi Arabia and worked for almost two years. She learned to be independent, and how to cook. “Cooking was the toughest,” Kath said, “I had to learn from scratch so I can eat real food and avoid instant meals.” Unfortunately, her contract ended earlier when the clinic she worked for closed due to conflict among the owners.
Seeing her colleagues lose their jobs made it difficult for Kath to leave. She grew great affection for the people and workplace but it was time to go so in June 2016, Kath returned to her home in the Philippines.
Home is the Place to Be
Back in Iloilo, Kath reapplied for a volunteer position in the sanitarium. She didn’t consider BPOs as she hoped to find a paying job as a nurse. Then she came across an online ad looking for virtual medical assistants.
After working for two years at Xilium, Kath is enjoying the perks of 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 growth and character development.