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Nurses of the Philippines: A Legacy of Healing

Written by Perchy Carrera, RN

Nurses from the Philippines have a long history of playing a crucial role in addressing nursing shortages overseas, particularly in countries like the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, and various Middle Eastern nations. Their contributions have been invaluable in filling the gaps in healthcare systems worldwide. Being a nurse in the Philippines is respected, both a challenging and rewarding and sought-after profession with numerous opportunities for personal and career growth. Due to their qualifications, language proficiency, adaptability, and willingness to work abroad, their contributions have been especially critical during healthcare crises, and they continue to make a significant impact on healthcare systems worldwide.


During the Spanish colonial era, the Philippines had indigenous healers and midwives caring for their communities. However, it was the arrival of Spanish colonization in the 16th century that introduced Western medicine and the concept of formal healthcare institutions. Filipino women were often trained and called "comadronas" (midwives) and "curanderas" (healers), which laid the foundation for healthcare practices in the country. World War II was a tumultuous period for the Philippines, and Filipino nurses displayed immense courage and resilience during this time. Many served as members of the Philippine Red Cross, caring for wounded soldiers and civilians alike. Their dedication and sacrifices in wartime contributed to the country's history of nursing heroism.

Education, Training, Licensing, and Skilled Workforce

Filipino nurses are known for their high level of education and training. To become a nurse in the Philippines, individuals typically need to complete a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) program, which usually takes four years. After completing the BSN program, graduates must pass the licensure examination known as the Philippine Nurse Licensure Examination (PNLE) conducted by the Professional Regulation Commission (PRC). Obtaining a nursing license is a mandatory requirement to practice as a nurse in the Philippines. The PNLE is a rigorous examination that assesses the competence of nursing graduates in various areas of nursing practice. Passing this exam is a critical step toward becoming a registered nurse. Many hold bachelor's and master's degrees in nursing and have experience in various specialties, making them highly qualified healthcare professionals. The Philippines has also been a hub for nursing education and training, attracting students from other countries. Some international students choose to study nursing in the Philippines before returning to their home countries to practice, contributing to global nursing capacity.

English Proficiency, Adaptability, and Continuous Learning

English is one of the official languages in the Philippines, and it is widely spoken and understood. Filipino nurses typically have good English language skills, essential for effective communication in many English-speaking countries.

Filipino nurses are also known for their adaptability and resilience. They are often willing to work in different healthcare settings and adapt to other healthcare systems, which is crucial during nursing shortages.

Nursing is a constantly evolving field, and nurses in the Philippines, like elsewhere, must engage in continuous learning and professional development to stay updated on the latest advancements and best practices in healthcare.

Tradition on migration and ethical considerations

The Philippines has a strong culture of migration, and nursing is one of the most popular professions for Filipinos seeking opportunities abroad. This tradition of overseas employment has made the country a significant contributor to the global healthcare workforce.

Nurses in the Philippines, like elsewhere, must adhere to a strict code of ethics, including patient confidentiality, respect for patient autonomy, and providing high-quality care.

Response to shortages globally: Pandemic Response

The COVID-19 pandemic has underscored the critical role of nurses in the Philippines. They have been on the front lines, providing care, conducting contact tracing, and administering vaccines. Their dedication and resilience in this global crisis have been commendable. During these periods of high demand for healthcare professionals, Filipino nurses have stepped up to provide much-needed support in various countries. Many have volunteered or been recruited to help with overwhelmed healthcare systems.

Contributions to Local Economies, Recognition, and Challenges

The remittances sent back by Filipino nurses working abroad play a significant role in the Philippine economy. This income supports their families and communities, contributing to the overall economic well-being of the country, which has helped improve the living conditions and opportunities for many Filipinos.

Despite their significant contributions, Filipino nurses working overseas have sometimes faced challenges such as discrimination, exploitation, and cultural adjustment difficulties. Advocacy groups and organizations have worked to raise awareness of these issues and protect the rights of overseas Filipino nurses.

Nursing in the Philippines can be challenging due to nurse-to-patient ratios, limited resources, and sometimes inadequate compensation in local healthcare facilities. Overseas Filipino nurses may need help adjusting to a new culture and healthcare system, although the opportunities for higher salaries and career advancement often outweigh these challenges.

Career Opportunities, Overseas Employment, and Professional Organizations Recruitment Agencies

Filipino nurses have a wide range of career opportunities available to them. They can work in various healthcare settings such as hospitals, clinics, rural health units, nursing homes, birthing facilities, and community health centers. Some nurses choose to specialize in areas like pediatrics, geriatrics, critical care, obstetrics, or mental health nursing.

One significant aspect of nursing in the Philippines is the opportunity to go overseas. Filipino nurses are in high demand worldwide due to their English proficiency, strong work ethic, and high level of training. Many Filipino nurses seek employment in countries like the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia, and the Middle East, where they often enjoy better pay and working conditions compared to what is available domestically.

Filipino nurses often join professional organizations like the Philippine Nurses Association (PNA) to stay updated on industry trends, access continuing education opportunities, and network with fellow nurses.

Numerous recruitment agencies in the Philippines specialize in placing Filipino nurses in healthcare facilities abroad. These agencies help streamline the process for both nurses and foreign employers.

Impact on the Healthcare System and Public Health Initiatives

Filipino nurses play a crucial role in the healthcare system, delivering quality healthcare services to the Filipino population. They are involved in various aspects of patient care, including assessment, medication administration, patient education, and emotional support.

Nurses in the Philippines have played critical roles in public health initiatives, including vaccination campaigns, maternal and child health programs, and disaster response efforts. They have been instrumental in improving healthcare access and outcomes, especially in rural and underserved areas.

Overall, Filipino nurses are known for their dedication, compassion, and skill in providing healthcare services both within the country and around the world. They have made significant contributions to the well-being of their communities and the nation. Their legacy continues to shape the healthcare landscape in the Philippines and beyond, making them a source of pride for the nation. They are often praised for their ability to work under pressure, making them valuable additions to healthcare teams. It is also a point of pride for many individuals and their families for its contributions to the global healthcare community, both within their own country and abroad. They are highly regarded for their commitment to patient care, making them an integral part of healthcare teams worldwide. These nursing professionals have earned a well-deserved reputation, and they continue to play a vital role in shaping the healthcare landscape of the Philippines and the world.

About the Author:

Perchy Carrera holds a Bachelor of Science in Nursing from Far Eastern University in the Philippines, and is a Registered Nurse currently working in a government rural health unit and birthing facility. When she is not working, she enjoys spending time with her three children.

Perchy is an independent contributor to CEUfast’s Nursing Blog Program. Please note that the views, thoughts, and opinions expressed in this blog post are solely of the independent contributor and do not necessarily represent those of CEUfast. This is not medical advice. Always consult with your personal healthcare provider for any health-related questions or concerns.

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