Filipino nurses are hugely important to healthcare systems around the world, from the UK to the US. We sat down with Emjee, a nurse from the Philippines, who used her OET results to register with the NMC and begin work with the NHS.
It is 30 degrees; the grass is green and skies blue above. You’re walking through Kensington Gardens on your way to care for a patient in your role as a community nurse for the NHS.
Emjee works as a Community Nurse for the Holland Park NHS District Nursing Team in the UK.
“I have the best job in the world. It is amazing. I love it,” she said. “I walk between patients, so I get to walk through the parks and get to see all the amazing places in my area of Chelsea and Kensington.”
Emjee used her successful OET results to register with the NMC and begin work for the NHS.
Working in the UK
For Emjee, the UK has always been her dream destination and it is one of the reasons she has worked so hard throughout her journey.
“I’ve always wanted to come and work in the UK because it is so different and unique,” she said. “It’s been my dream ever since my uncles travelled there when I was 7 or 8 years old.”
Emjee is one of approximately 20,000 Filipino nationals working for the NHS, as nurses, doctors and other healthcare professionals. Filipinos play a hugely important role in the UK, as do the other 211 nationalities that make up the NHS‘s diverse workforce.
Like all NHS staff, Emjee is working hard to protect UK residents from COVID-19.
“I have more patients now, usually some would have gone to hospital but as they are shielding, I attend to them at home or in the clinic.”
“It does worry me because it is new and risky but I have PPE [Personal Protective Equipment] and additional training,” she said. “The whole team is working together to ensure we get through this.”
Challenging road to the NHS
Emjee’s journey was not easy. She initially took a general English test but did not receive the grades she needed.
Due to the types of questions, Emjee was not comfortable she would pass a second time. The random topics made it hard for her to answer the interview questions comfortably.
“I was asked to talk and write about furniture and modern art, but I don’t know much about these topics,” Emjee said. “I couldn’t talk about the topics very well.”
Emjee nearly gave up on her dream to work in the UK. But then she heard about OET.
“It sounded great,’ she said. “Healthcare specific, real nursing scenarios and in a way that is familiar.”
“I reviewed for two-months with a friend and it was really helpful. Everything we learnt was related to nursing, all the words and the language is the same as what I use in my role as a nurse.”
“I initially didn’t get the results I needed to register and work in the UK,” she said. “But I was confident I would get it a second time around.”
Emjee said that OET made her feel confident in her English language skills again.
Advice for fellow Filipino nurses
With so many looking to make the leap to a new country, we wanted to know what advice Emjee would give to other nurses in the Philippines.
“Go for a job you really want, one that fits your lifestyle and who you want to be,” she said.
“I left nursing in the Philippines and got a corporate job, but I felt something was missing,” she said. “So, I decided to become a nurse again, but I didn’t want to work in hospital or clinic.”
“Instead I wanted to be outside and with patients in the community, so I applied for a community nurse role after volunteering for three months.”
“I don’t like working nights and I would rather work hard during the day, so the community nurse role fits perfect.”
Emjee believes that nurses should choose the role that fits them. That could be in a hospital, a clinic, working with older people or with kids.
“Your job should empower you; it should make you want to work hard,” she said.
With hard times ahead, she hopes other nurses can reach their dreams.
“Don’t lose hope, you can do it!”