Force Volunteerism among nurses needs to stop.

Once upon a time, I was a volunteer nurse.

No benefits, no stipend, no whatever. No, seriously. As far I know, this is the only profession that ‘requires’ you to work without pay for so long just for the ”experience”.

So I got sick and tired.

Fast forward to now, there are still licensed nurses out there rendering their services for free. It needs to stop. The truth is, most of the time, in the Philippine setting, you can’t climb too far up the ladder without strings to pull. And even if you get promoted to N1 or N2 level, the salary still ain’t up to par. No one can blame the nurses who leave their loved ones to take their chances abroad, or find non-health services related jobs. You know, jobs with REAL pay to make ends meet.


I hope this government will live up to its promise for change to come because I really want the system to change from being pro-capitalist to pro-everyone. Which is unrealistic. Alright then, more pro-working class than ever, especially to practicing nurses out there.

From the Facebook post of Ms. Karen Joy Torralba, RN

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I’m a nurse but I opted not to continue working in the hospital now.

After I filed an online petition to President Duterte, I received a letter from Marites, who asked me if her story can be featured in my blog. I  was hesitant. How can I give justice to a non-fiction story, more especially if it is about her– being a nurse and a mother.

But, as an advocate for nurses. I devoted myself to continuously talk about the inequalities of the nursing profession in my own country. I told her, yes. I sent her, some guide questions which she can answer so that I can make a story out of it.


 

I’m a nurse but I opted not to continue working in the hospital now. Despite my passion to serve and care for the welfare of my patients, I chose to go out, put off the lamp of Florence Nightingale and venture to another path, where I can get enough, for my only baby girl.

Hindi ko mapapakain ang mga anak ko sa sahod bilang nurse.

(I can’t afford to feed my family with my salary as a nurse.)

With the meager 3,000 per two weeks (15 days) (sometimes even smaller depending  on the duty hours (kasi nga Reliever pa kami bago maging Regular Staff).

I served the public hospital for 3 years, again 3 long years without any reservations. I gave my life and time (pati overtime) na unpaid with the hope that one day, I will be promoted in a regular post.

However, one day, I felt like, they are not serious in promoting me. A new nursing graduate was assigned the vacant posts, very easily. Then I learned that, she was the daughter of the assistant chief nurse of the hospital. It crushed my heart. It was injustice.

I pay the BIR, SSS, PAG-IBIG, and PhilHealth and other applicable state taxes, hoping that the government will be nicer to us me—as a nurse. But, I was very stupid to believe that the government is passionate and caring.

While working in the hospital, I have no choice but to leave my own child under the care of a babysitter. I have no choice. Then, one day, I realized that;

Naku! mas malaki pa sweldo ni yaya kesa sa akin! parang nag-nurse ako para may pasweldo at pang SSS and Philhealth ang yaya.

Nurses na yata ang susunod na martyr sa Pilipinas! Seeing that I could not even feed my self three times a day, and my baby with the right amount of milk, I decided to say,

“Enough is enough! It must stop!”

In the Philippines, nurses are disregarded. Nurses are not the priority despite the hardships and sacrifices that we give. We care but no one is caring for us.  Before I resigned, I went to the office of our Chief Nurse, I looked at her in the eye, and I delivered the arrow that pierced her heart.

Where is the government?

Where is your conscience?

For nurses to triumph, one should not be afraid to speak. Nurses should throw the appropriate arrows, right to the heart, especially if you are facing the beasts that kill the essence of the nursing profession, even though he/she is also a nurse.

(Story of Maritess, a nurse and a loving mother)

Share your own story to ikuwentokaymutya@gmail.com. 

President Rodrigo Duterte : Stop the inhumane treatment of nurses in the Philippines.

 I am Mutya, I am speaking out to represent all the Filipino nurses in the Philippines who are being treated inhumanely by previous Philippine administration. We are considered as the blood of healthcare in the country, but unfortunately, we are not one of the priorities.

The comprehensive nursing law of the Philippines had been previously vetoed by the outgoing President Aquino. The bill only aims to improve the nursing profession in the Philippines specifically, by giving the nurses, salary that is livable and can sustain the life of their families.

In the Philippines, despite the rise of patients admitted in hospitals and community health centers and the expansion of nurses roles, still, the government failed to care for us. We work in hospitals that lack safe medical equipment, we handle 40 patients in one ward in a 12 hour shift, we can’t provide the best care that supposedly we should give because we are hungry, tired and depressed.

I already wrote a letter addressed to President Aquino, communicating the nurses dismay because of his merciless decision. It was published in my blog, getting the support and attention of many nurses and media platforms in the country. Here is the link: https://brightgays.wordpress.com/2016/06/16/im-mutyarn-im-writing-for-the-president/

With this, I am humbly asking, the incoming President, President Rodrigo Duterte, to please refile, prioritize and approve the bill, during his first 100 days as President. I know that he has the heart and the capabilities to stop the inhumane treatment of nurses in the Philippines.

We will continue the fight, to claim our rights and privileges, that were reaped from us.

SIGN THE PETITION HERE!

A letter to cruel hospital leaders from a nurse.

Dear cruel hospital leaders, 

Greetings and congratulations for winning the vote of President Aquino to veto the bill that aims to improve the quality of life of the severely injured nurses in your own country.

You have proven that your influence is stronger than our clamour for dignified work and pay. It goes without saying that, you don’t see us in the big picture yet; your vision is to have a world class hospital in the country- the biggest joke I’ve heard.

In that note, I can confidently say, that you are operating in a hallucinatory vision. I am speaking in behalf of all the nurses in the all the hospitals and community centers in the Philippines, whom you never treated with care, understanding and dignity, despite their sacrifice to boost the income and image of your hospitals.

Yes, it all boils down to income. But healthcare is not all about economics; it is about healing and caring for a patient. If we are paid per hour, based from the room rates, per rounds, maybe we will not ask for this salary increase.

Forgive me, I’m sorry, but I can’t understand your arguments. All I know is that, you are suppressing within yourself, the recognition that nurses can make a difference in your health institutions. Investing in nurses will not hurt you, if only you have the plan and the will to execute it. However, being compassionate to nurses has never been your defining attribute. However, despite of all your shortcomings, we are still proud to say, that we have a lot of compassion and empathy.

How can you enjoy living your daily life while seeing your nurses– hungry, fatigued, sick and thirsty for justice?

If you have considered us partners, you will not be the first to call the president to veto the bill. We never failed you, when your hospital is shaking, when your patient’s census is overflowing, we are the one who ensure that everything and everyone are being taken care of.  When nurses create mistakes in the area because of fatigue, lack of motivation, lack of safe equipment and acceptable facilities, you never failed to put the blame on them.

Now that the bill is already dead, I hope that you are now happy or maybe you want to cut even our uniform or meal allowance just to suffice the needs of the institution.

Let us all be blunt and frank here.

Nurses deserve to be treated with respect. Before you ask to veto the bill, try to improve the hospital beds, try to provide foot stools, try to give us with working tables and chairs, (we envy your air-conditioned rooms), try to improve the oxygenation and  room sanitation of the hospital, try to provide us with bins, that separate infectious from biodegradable and recyclables, try to improve our shifting, please hire more nurses, because we are not robots, we have our own family to care and love, and lastly, try to discipline some of your beloved healthcare providers, emphasize that nurses are professionals and not slaves, be considerate because the remuneration that we are receiving is not proportionate to the service we give.

But don’t worry; we will continue to give our best– to care, but not in this country, perhaps, because you don’t deserve good nurses here.

If you are brave enough, you should have championed the bill and find alternatives to meet the goals and needs.

Past is past, because of this you created division and severed ties with nurses in the healthcare industry.

We are always in your side, supporting your objectives, but now, thank you for showing us, who really the wolves are.

– Mutya

 

 

Sec. Coloma, I am Mutya and I stand to speak and defend Filipino nurses.

Dear Sec. Coloma,

I do appreciate your explanation why President Aquino vetoed the comprehensive nursing bill, but like what he did, as a nurse, I am writing my suppositions, I refuse to believe your sugar-coated, traditional answers.

Sec. Coloma, you have the liberty to positively varnish PNOY’s mercilessness regard to us, nurses. I know you are just doing your job, rest assured, I am doing mine also. You defend your boss, I will defend mine.

You have the microphone, the media and the podium of the Malacanan, we only have the small space in social media. We don’t have the machinery, but we have every genuine heart of a nurse- uncompromising, undying, passionate, enduring, caring and loving. Our only difference sir, is that, you are paid to do so, your life depends on your boss, but mine, depends on the hope that one day, nurses will claim what we long deserve.

Your explanation came very fast, in science that’s a form of self-defense, your body and spirit need to rationalize the guilt from murdering the lives of many Filipino nurses and their families.

How can you sleep sir during the night? With your mouth full of blood from the neck of innocent and dying nurses whom the office you are defending bit and slit last week? This administration sucked the blood and life of all the nurses in the Philippines.

How can you speak with conviction, echoing and spreading the lies that this administration is continuously propagating?

How can you kneel in the front of the crucifixion? Don’t you see us nurses on the cross?

Where do you take your strength to receive the Holy Communion?

If you have some form of mercy, as the mouth and ears of the President, please tell him that he can veto the bill, but he cannot veto our humanity and our profession. The presidency may disappear, including your position as the communications chief, but our profession will survive.

In fact, we will be the last person beside your deathbed, preparing your peaceful transition to the other side of the world. Remember there are two worlds after us (heaven and hell), we nurses can’t help you go to a better place.

If you are in disagreement of the salary grade, so be it, but please have the balls to improve the working conditions of all the nurses in the country. For 6 years straight, this administration had watched the nurses suffer in hospitals, which is lacking of safe equipment and manpower. You tend to compare us to other entry level professions, how dare you! Forgive my tone sir, but I will repeat, how dare you.

Entry level teachers, for example receive acceptable salaries after they graduate. Unlike us, nurses, after we graduate, we pay for hospitals to hire us and some are silently crawling just to work without receiving any salary for years, I repeat, no salary for years; until they are given a small allowance. The teachers are given chalks, rooms and books, while nurses are given nothing. We even accidentally needle prick our own fingers because your “state of the art” hospitals don’t have sharps collector, we mop the floor, because you don’t have enough hired janitors, if we are comfortable in our workplace, we will not ask you this consideration.

The office you are serving and defending seemed to be jubilant and contented seeing the nurses leave the Philippines. In abroad, Filipino nurses are considered as the best, they garner commendations; they are the top choice because they set high standards. The care of Filipino nurse is unique. Then this government will ask and wonder, why does the health status of the Philippines is not improving? You already know the answer sir, because you don’t invest in the healthcare workforce of your own nation.

Mr. Coloma, it is not unfair, and paying us will not distort the fiscal structure of the Philippines if ONLY you have the heart and the will to do it. What your boss did, was he distorted and crushed the hearts of all the nurses in the Philippines and abroad. He failed them terribly, this government butchered them, but believe me; we are not weaklings to not to overcome that blow. We studied for 4 years, volunteered without pay for 2-6 years and suffered under the (government watch). We cannot rely to the government. The house and the Senate have spoken, the Filipino Nurses have spoken but you did not listen.

In nursing, if a patient has impacted cerumen, we do flushing with solutions, ensuring first that their tympanic membrane is not perforated. After that procedure, the patient regains his/her hearing. But with you and the President, we don’t have the capability, because it is not the cerumen that blocked your hearing it is something inside your brains that filtered our cries and yearnings, and only you and God can decompress it.

Sir, time will come that you will need a nurse. With your age, you will soon need the assistance of these angels, by that time, I am hoping that, you will hold their hands and say thank you because despite all your sins and shortcomings to them, they will still be there to care for you. They will ensure that you are comfortable despite their pockets are empty, they will hold your hand and smile, they will perform the sponge bath using your favorite shampoo and soap, and before, you close your eyes they will whisper the most caring words in the world.

I’m sure your tears will begin to cloud your eyes, and you will remember everything, how the President vetoed the bill, and how you defended him.

 

Mr. Coloma, I am Mutya and I stand to speak and defend Filipino nurses. We have the same role, but I am in the good side, I don’t know about you, which side you stand.

-Mutya

I’m MutyaRN, I’m writing to the President.

Dear Pres. Aquino,

I congratulate you for killing  the “ act providing for a Comprehensive Nursing Law towards Quality Healthcare System and Appropriating Funds Therefor”. This signifies your compassion, love  and understanding to us—nurses.

Being the outgoing President of the Philippines, I will give all my respect to you, His Excellency. Your administration is always proclaiming that you successfully improved the conditions of our public healthcare institutions in our poor country, in support, the Department of Health also boastfully said that we are very near to achieving the goal of universal healthcare, yet, ironically,  8 out of 10 Filipinos die without seeing a single healthcare professional, that includes not seeing us— nurses.

I will not ask you to override your decision or to explain yourself; I want to give you a glimpse of our life which you belittled and disregarded. It is better than convincing your already close mind.

Mr President, this is not only about the salary grade that we are fighting for, this is about the work dignity that the nurses only deserve. We don’t ask for too much, we only beg for the exact, livable amount. We are not corrupt, we care, we love, we understand and we only deserve it.

Early in the morning when no one is around, we take care of 30-40 patients in one hospital ward; your administration permitted your hospitals to hire 2-3 staff nurses/ward. Mathematically, one nurse is for 10 patients. We don’t only look at our patients, we cannot afford to sit, to wait for the bell to ring, eat our breakfast, lunch, snacks or dinner. Infact Mr. President, while you are taking your break,  we assess, diagnose, set outcome criteria, plan, intervene and evaluate.

We are not low lying animals, we are human beings.

We administer high alert medications. We see to it that we give the correct drug with right dose and observing another kilometer of rights. If we are cruel enough, if we are idle, if we are corrupt, if we are stupid, we can easily administer these drugs and watch your voters die.

We don’t get enough sleep, we have straight duties, we need to comply and compensate because most of your hospitals are understaffed. We report despite there is a typhoon, an earthquake, even in special occasions, we care for your voters. While others are having their vacation, while you are having your siesta time, we are selflessly present at the patients’s bedside.

Don’t lecture us about training and seminars because, I tell you Mr. President, it’s useless. We are paying for private training because the free seminars and training that you are very proud of, are as old as the Malacanan palace. If we want to learn more, to improve our competency, You give us no choice but to seek, to train and sadly, to pay using our own meager salary because when we will not do this, we will remain empty in your empty healthcare institutions. Supposedly, you are the one ensuring the implementation of these training. Your advisers did not do their research right?

Now, when your voters poop and urinate on their bed, we wipe it and make them clean. Our hands are dirty because you gave us no choice but to recycle our gloves.  We don’t have mask in the hospital, to protect ourselves; we buy using our own salary. Providing workplace safety, as far as I know, is your responsibility. No amount of money can pay to suffice the hazards that we are facing every day.

Lastly, you don’t ever compare us to other professions. We are your health allies. We are the lifeblood of the healthcare industry. When we leave the bedside, many will die, and you will not like it. We don’t leave our posts just to attend rallies in the street. In fact, we are not only nurses, we are also teachers, because health education is one of our many core competency.  Our teachings can save a life.

We are also pharmacist, we don’t only administer drugs, we check it, and we protect your voters from medication error. We don’t simply follow orders, like you, we discern, we investigate if this is safe and beneficial for your voters.  Unlike you, we fight for what is right and just.

No job is small or big. Every job is unique. There is simple a reason why nurses receive high salary outside of this country. It is no brainier Mr. President. It is common sense that other countries, sane and compassionate countries, acknowledge the kind of work that we do. Only in this country that we are treated as animals, not to mention, some doctors who verbally torture nurses in the clinical area.

With due all respect Mr President, you are under an illusion and a delusion that this country has a strong health workforce. In Psychiatric nursing, we confront you with reality, that’s why I’m writing this for you to see the bitter realities of the nursing industry in our country. If you are still in doubt, try to have yourself admitted in a public hospital, and you will see how cruel your government to nurses is.

Earlier when I read the news that you vetoed the bill, I cried because of disbelief. In fact, I am a supporter of your yellow army. I supported you, but that support and admiration ends today, like how you vetoed our life, the CNL.

Nurses are trained to become caring, understanding and enduring. We always listen; we never judge or give advice to influence a decision. However, I can’t be a nurse with this.

Tonight, I am speaking not as a nurse but as a human being. This is more than business Mr. President. At the end, you will know that the last man or woman standing beside your bed is a nurse and not your (kumpare and companeros,) the {nurse}  will insert your intravenous catheter, she will tuck your bed, she will wipe your poop, she will give your medications, will clean your wounds, will provide you food, will fight for your rights, will protect you from falls and accidents, even you failed them.

Mr. President, I want to close this letter by saying; you have no heart . You have no soul.

 

-Mutya

The lady that you should meet now. 

Leadership Journey 7 - Martin San Diego-119I am very afraid to post this entry. This is my most courageous composition, as of now.

Arriving home, I opened my messenger and I saw our conversation last year. It was June, same day, when I message her in facebook. Well, the message was dramatic and heavy. Given that I don’t have a degree in Communications, for heaven’s grace, I was able to deliver the message to her. I was doubtful, anxious, but the message was sent 01:00 AM and was seen 02:00 AM.

I immediately turned off my facebook. Slowly, my actions begun to sink in.

“I messaged one of the most powerful women in the world, in—FACEBOOK.”

I prayed ardently, that Mother Mercy will forgive me, which she will guide and protect me from possible havoc as a result of my actions. I hid under my polka dots blanket. I wished that the blanket would give me goodluck. When I opened my messenger, she replied.

“Send your resume to me, let’s see how and what.”

Oh my God! “Ginawa kong HR si ma’am!” I was ashamed. It was unprofessional. I went out from the apartment, looked at the sky and wished for an UFO to suction me.

Then the rest is history.

But before that incident….

It was in the middle of Typhoon Yolanda, I sent a message to her Facebook, it was my first time to contact her. We were planning to conduct a medical mission in a severely affected area in Iloilo. I knew, she was busy during that time, but help arrived.

After the medical mission, in the back of mind, “Oh my God! Nakakahiya!”

I will not do this again.

I’m not writing to impress her, or to ask an extension of my deliverables. This is my simple way of expressing my deepest gratitude.

We call her ma’am RPF.

Reflective, one time, she asked me under the shade of coconut trees. “Why?” “Why?” Why?” “Why are you here?”, my synapses collapsed. It was a deep reflective session which she helped me identify my calling.  She has the power to look at the clouds and give you an insight and interpretation of your existence. I looked at the clouds a million times, but I don’t see anything. She is rich in wisdom.

Passionate, She can bring and channel your passions into something measurable and meaningful. She has an eye for hidden potentials and talents. She guides you to a series of maze, and at the end of the day, you will experience extreme happiness because you have survived it. It’s not always easy, but with her, you will be amazed on how you reached that kind of decision. She challenges your mind to think big. She stretches it until it snaps.

“Ma’am, pause muna tayo, masakit na ang ulo namin.”

Then she would laugh and say, “Sige, hinay-hinay lang tayo.”

Fun, she believes that building a healthier Philippines should not be boring. She incorporates color to the office, her pasalubongs, her superb attire (na gusto ko nang manahin).

It has been 2 years since I left Iloilo for Manila. Once in a while, I miss my mother. I only get the chance to talk to her through phone. But when I see ma’am RPF in the office, I can feel that my mom is around. Her presence is reassuring. Every time, I see her colourful flower arrangements, I see flashes of images of our garden cultivated by mama.

I believe that, to survive work, to have a meaningful job, it is essential sometimes, to perceive your superiors as someone as close and as dear to your heart. Sometimes they will correct you, get angry at you, but at the end of the day, they will be waiting for you at the end of the road, ready to share the happiness and celebrations, after a day full of meaningful, satisfying and fun work.