During President Obama’s 2013 State of the Union address, he recognized filipina nurse Menchu de Luna Sanchez. New York Registered nurse, Menchu, was an honored guest sitting in First Lady’s box.
Menchu’s praise came from her heroic acts of saving babies during a natural disaster. In 2013, Hurricane Sandy took out the power at the NYU Longone Medical Center. This meant that the infants in intensive care could die. Sanchez devised a plan to transport twenty at-risk infants to intensive care units around the city.
She also organized the nurses and doctors to carry the babies down eight flights of stairs with only cell phones to light the way. Menchu’s home was flooding, but she only focused on the protecting the babies in her care.
Like Sanchez, many filipinos in America are working as nurses and care givers. One of the main reasons that filipino nurses choose America over the Philippines is the economic situation. The average RN in the Philippines earns only about 5% of what an RN is paid in the US. Being a nurse is not easy. It takes years and lots of money to gain their knowledge and experience so of course they expect to be paid a decent wage for their high level of skill. Another reason the choose America is that there is a large market for care givers and nurses in the US. With such a huge aging population and not enough nurses in the US, there is definitely a demand to look overseas for competent medical professionals.
Since nurses in America earn as much as 20x what they could in the Philippines, and most send lots of money home once in the US, this actually helps the Filipino economy. This is known as “remittance”. Filipino nurses are able to help their entire extended family (more info at globilization101). According to globalizaiton 101, “Total remittances to the Philippines have grown substantially in recent years and reached $10.7 billion in 2005”.
The negative side of all the nurses moving to America is the huge nursing shortages in the Philippines. In fact, across all educated workers, the Philippines is losing a LOT. In the US, this sometimes called a “brain drain” and it normally happens when one country economy does very bad and workers have better options in another country.
Furthermore, turnover at Philippine hospitals is so high that even operating rooms are staffed with novice nurses. Because of the depletion of skilled medical workers, hundreds of hospitals in the Philippines have fully or partially closed, and medical care is disproportionately distributed, favoring industrialized cities and leaving rural areas with inadequate coverage (Lorenzo et al, 2007). – globalization 101
It is my sincere hope that the Filipino economy gets better so that they can retain heros like Menchu de Luna Sanchez in places that really need it. In the meantime, at least nurses and other filipino professionals working abroad can stimulate the economy with billions of dollars in remittance.