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New York Times: "From Philippines, with scrubs"

November 24, 2003 -- Today's New York Times includes a lengthy article by Joseph Berger about the high numbers of Philippines-born nurses in the New York area and elsewhere in the United States.

The story states that New York area Filipinas are "practically defined by" nursing, and that 30% of Filipinas in the area work as nurses or other health practitioners. For decades, U.S. hospitals facing shortages have aggressively recruited nurses from the Philippines. They have reportedly prized them for their English language skills--despite disparagement of those skills on recent episodes of NBC's "ER"--as well as their training in a compatible educational system, work ethic, employment loyalty, and what Berger terms "a tenderness that seems to stem from a culture where people insist on caring for their own aging or sick relatives." The article reports that 41% of the respondents to a 2001 survey of foreign nursing school graduates in the U.S. had received their nursing education in the Philippines.

The piece notes that the relatively high pay nurses receive in the U.S. affords Filipinas much higher standards of living, and allows them to send substantial funds back to the Philippines to assist their families. It also discusses the pain the nurses experience at having to leave members of those families behind, and other problems common to those who emigrate to very different nations. The article reports that Filipinas have been in the U.S. long enough that some have risen to senior posts in health care, pointing to Lolita Compas, a nursing instructor at Cabrini Medical Center and president of the New York State Nurses Association, and Dr. Consuela Dungca, a senior vice president for clinical affairs at New York's Health and Hospitals Corporation.

The article does not discuss the likelihood that recruiting from the Philippines will make much of a dent in the massive shortage the U.S. now faces. Nor does it address the effect such recruiting has on health care in nations like the Philippines, which invest in training nurses only to see them emigrate to more developed nations, resulting in shortages in nations that can afford them even less. Earlier this year, it was reported that the Philippines, in particular, suffers greatly from this problem.

See Joseph Berger's article "From Philippines, With Scrubs" in the New York Times.

Also see Patricia Adversario's article "Nurses' Exodus Making Health System Sick" in the Inter Press.




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