Realities of Being A Nurse: Sentiments and Joys

Monday, July 31, 2017 Philippines


Being a nurse was not my first choice when I graduated back in High School but my Mom insisted that I go with this course while my Dad wanted me to get anything that is related to medical field. At that time, I am not yet sure of what I REALLY want so I prepared myself and thought that wearing white uniform might be cool. 

There are a lot of ups and downs in being a nurse. I will be sharing some of my thoughts (or hugot!) for today though and I hope that you forgive me for posting something that is more personal and non-beauty related. 

One thing that I just want to clear before you proceed reading, it does not mean that I do not appreciate being a Nurse even though I am feeling burned-out right now. Caring for patients and making a difference in their life is a fulfilling feeling that I am sure I will not be able to get in other fields. 

But why do I write this post today? It is because I am feeling a little emotional. I cannot tell my family because they want me to still pursue my career as a nurse and even my boyfriend wants me to continue practicing what I studied for four years and took a board exam for. (He is also a practicing nurse like me.) Basically, I do not have someone to talk to that will understand me. That is one of the reasons that I post it here on my blog because I know that they will not be reading it. (I hope!)

I am someone who does not rant online specially on my blog. I love blogging but only for my reviews and experiences but never for personal stuff. I wanted to keep my life private as much as possible. For almost 12 years since I started this blog account, I only posted 2 rant posts wherein I was treated unfairly and that includes my post that I got denied for a postpaid Smart application because of my salary as a nurse. (Yup, it is still related to my job.)

I am working for the same hospital for more than 8 years now and this is not the first time that I felt it but right now, I am questioning myself and I am starting to regret taking this course in my life. I want to turn back time. 

The amount of workload is NOT worth the salary BUT the smiles of your patients and them thanking you will make it worthwhile. Is it enough? I kept thinking about it, I survived until today so I guess the gratitude from your patients were enough. For the salary, let us say it is enough while I am single and does not have any children. Imagine, for almost 8 years and my salary is still at 18,000php. Well, it is fairly decent but remember, other jobs starts at 18,000php and but I worked for 8 years to get this 18,000php salary. 

Take note though that as a nurse, hospitals will NOT (or at least in my tertiary hospital, I am not sure to others) be giving you transportation allowances, health insurances nor bonuses. Na-da! I even have to pay for my own flu shots! The only advantage I get is that whenever I am sick, the doctors won't ask for a professional fee. It is totally free. If I give it a deep thought though, that is the doctors being generous to you, not the hospital. If I ever get admitted, I will have a 50% discount on laboratories and procedures. The room charges is free depending on your position and status at the hospital but mostly it is in ward or semi-private rooms. You will pay for the additional if you wanted to upgrade for a private room. 

I was able to accept all of this, even the salary because my Mom still supports me, thank God! (Though it should be the other way around.) Yes, I complained about my salary but I never turned my back on my job. I only rant about it when treated unfairly just like in my experience at SMART. (You can back read my blog.) The government, PRC and DOH does not do anything to support any increase for the salary of nurses in the Philippines but companies have the audacity to humiliate your profession that you are unqualified to pay for a postpaid line amounting to 1000php per month. Do you even see nurses getting new cars? I don't think so. We literally cannot afford it unless you are supported by family. Well, this is a reality for our profession.

You are always on the go specially on disasters and calamities and yet you are not exempted from coding like physicians do. There are three shifts for nurses, morning, afternoon and night and that is if you are lucky. Philippines lacks nurses nowadays and almost everyday, we take double shifts. So, if you are travelling early in the morning and late in the evening, you can see that most public vehicles contains white uniformed people. I am one of them. The good thing about shifting though, if you have a willing co-staff, you can always cover each other if you wanted to go somewhere and took an extra day off. The time is flexible. 

The department that I chose is under Pediatrics, I love children because they are innocent and they cannot express why they are feeling sick. There is something about kids that makes me feel like everything is worth it. Whenever I sent one patient home, it is their smiles and cuteness that gives me the energy to continue working. Every kid is a challenge, it will never bore you. I enjoy working in my area. 

Working under the Department of Pediatrics is a place that needs a lot of patience and when I say a lot, it means more than your limit. One thing to be sad about though, it is also the department that was always under-rated and unappreciated. My bosses at work thinks that our department needs lesser staff just because we are ONLY handling kids. (Yes, "pedia lang" (or Pedia Only) is the term that they always wanted to use.) Do they even know how long it will take for one child so you could get them to drink their medicine? I don't think so. How can one continue to love our job if your own boss and hospital treats their staff like that, right? This is one of the reasons why my friends quit in our hospital. 

Right now, our unit lacks 4 nurses, 2 nursing assistants and one clerk for the recommended staffing for a 24 capacity ward without any scheduled overtimes. Though for the hospital's computation, they only lack two nurses, 1 nursing assistant and 1 clerk in our area, that is why we have a scheduled overtimes in our monthly schedule. The hospital is not concerned about that because they still continue admitting patients even though they do not have the staff to accommodate it. The result would be, the remaining staff will have to cover the shifts for the lack of staff. Just this week, I worked for 78 hours. That is way more than the 40 hours per week required by the law. I heard from a professional though that DOLE cannot do anything about it as long as you are paid for your overtime. Sad but true. If you want to be a nurse, make sure you are ready to work long hours and be ready that you will be living more inside the hospital over your own home. That is my number one advice. Flexibility to your lifestyle is the key. 

The good thing about staying under the hospital for long hours is that, you will earn friends. Your co-staff will be your second family and confidantes. (Laughingly tell all your hugots together everyday!) Imagine being together for at least 12 hours to 16 hours a day, I am sure you will get to know them quickly!

All of these things sounds nothing though when it comes to what I most hate about in this profession. There are real people who will make you look bad. Just last night, I worked for an overtime shift of 16 hours because we are under-staff as usual. I was not allowed go home by my supervisor even though I am feverish and suffering from flu because our area needs manpower. 

There is a grandmother of a patient in our unit that came out of nowhere and started shouting at us in the station. You know for what reason? Because we are not facilitating their room upgrade. First, she does not have the room transfer slip that will inform us that we can transfer them. Second, it will be given by the admitting area so until then, we nurses cannot do a thing about it. We inquired about it at the admitting section and learned that the room available in the other area is still being checked and not yet ready for release that is why they did not release any transfer slip yet and did not inform us. Honestly, we cannot do anything about it until we are given the green light but the relative insisted that our delayed service in facilitating their transfer is a malpractice. She had many complaints and I asked her to enumerate it so I can discuss and solve it but all she can give me is that she wants the VIP treatment of fast upgrade and fast service and actions. I honestly and calmly (as a nurse even though you are irritated, you can never show it) explained to her that their is a line up for room upgrade. Other patients patiently wait for their turn and that once the room is available, the admitting will be calling them to release a slip for room transfer. This slip is required for patients or relatives to accomplished because most of the time, hospitals asks for additional deposits when upgrading. Of course, I was named then for being a non-accommodating nurse because I was following the "poor protocols" as she calls it. 

You know that feeling when you are feeling sick and your throat is dry and you have a clogged nose? It will make you feel drained and that day that is how I was feeling. I literally do not have the energy to argue with her so I just listened and told her we will ask an update and follow it up to the admitting station. What do I get? I got accused for being too mad that according to patient it made me looked pale. (If I am mad, shouldn't I look red from anger? LOL. Just a thought.) Of course I was pale, it is because I am sick but not for the reason that I am mad at her. I may feel irritated but handling irate patients is not a new thing. It is very common in our field everyday and getting mad at them will never solve the case and the hospital and nurse bosses will not support you either when it comes to patients, they are afraid they will lose customers. It is still a business for them. I knew that so I also know that I cannot get mad even if I wanted to. Honestly at that time though, I literally do not have the energy even to feel irritated.

It is a good thing that there are doctors and staff nurses around me because they never heard me answering rudely back at her. The doctor who stood up (rather answered back) for me for being sick was actually got yelled at too for interfering. (Sorry Doctora and thank you!) To finish it off, I just told her we can review the CCTV in  her back to see if I really did get mad at her. She looked shocked for a second, I guess she did not expected there is a CCTV in front of the nurse's station.

After that, the relative started another complain that she saw us eating inside the station's dining area and did not notice her outside. Yes, we did not see her because she did not call our attention. We did not see that there is someone outside. There is a bell at the station that you can ring but she did not use it. I don't think there is anything wrong in eating together because we eat fast and we can hear bells, call buttons and phone ringing in our dining area. It is still part of the station but with just an obstructed view outside the station. 

She knew that there was a bell she could use to call our attention but she decided to wait outside until some of us see her but it is her reason to get mad that we did not accommodate her. She told us that it is part of our job not to eat. Just for anyone's information though, nurses do not have break hours like corporate jobs. We work straight and no lunch or snack breaks. We only eat whenever we can fit it in our busy schedule. If it is really busy (like someone is getting revived or too much admissions or discharges at the same time, bedside procedures), then we don't eat until we finish our shift. Why do you think that Acute Gastritis is common among nurses? I was diagnosed with this and almost all of the other staff too. It is because we cannot follow the regular eating schedule. What is the next nurse's common illness? UTI or kidney problem. Why? We forget to use the comfort room because we have to take care of other people first. Sometimes, after a full 8 hours shift, that is when I will remember that I have the urge to urinate earlier but forgot to do so. Oh and it feels so good to do it after 8 hours, believe me! You will appreciate the process of urinating. LOL.

The complaint of that relative lightened that night though when another relative showed concern for us because she witnessed the whole ordeal. She was embarrassed that a person can go like that. She called her "Donya". She even joked that for her, we can eat whenever we want to. We all laughed our heart out after that and thanked her. You do not know how your words can empower the staff to continue working and give it their best shot.

My point here is that, all problems are being pointed to a nurse. Everything is the nurse's problem, from air conditioner being too cold or too is not delicious, trash bins not replaced by janitors, lack of room availability, slow wi-fi connection, delayed time for medicines, bed sheets not changed immediately after they soaked it with food, baby's diaper not changed by the nurse...relatives forgetting to bring their chargers, relatives who does not have a load to call or text and asks for yours...all of it. These are just the common problem that I encounter everyday, some of it may sound absurd but it really happens and I think this can be prevented if there are more nurses or other staff on the job. 

Being a nurse is a profession, we have a license for it. I studied and graduated for it. It is an honest job but it is also a job that is being most judged about. I know that for most nurses, specially among those who quit, the pressure is what made them quit. Everyday, more nurses are resigning. This will not only affect the workload, hours of work, the hospital. Remember, it will also affect you or your family...the patients. Lack of nurses means lesser stations can be opened because there are no manpower. Lesser nurses means eventually some hospitals may close. Not all people understands this. Heck, even the hospital owners does not understand its importance and treats their staff like robots. Their only concern is their income. Unfortunately, the nurse bosses' cannot even do a thing about it too either by being afraid by the management or just simply the shortage. I just wish that even the patients and relatives will understand that there is also rights for staff that you should treat them fairly for their job and that the reality that there is already a shortage of nurses in our country. In fact, not only our country, why do you think other countries hire nurses abroad? They also lack nurses now. For me, I do not want to serve abroad if I can stay here but what choice do I have, if nurses are more appreciated abroad?  

I am just afraid that if I quit right now and look for a new job, will I miss working back at the hospital? Will I miss seeing my favorite patients? Will I miss the feeling of hitting a vein? How about my family who wants me to continue working as a nurse, what will they say about it if I quit? Is it the right time for me that I should try out other jobs that is not related to nursing? The dream job that I realized for years now that I wanted to work in a corporate world like magazines or advertising? I do not know what to do but I know that I am tired and burned out, I feel like anytime now I will start feeling depressed. How long can I keep up with this facade that I can still do it? That is my biggest challenge right now.

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