The coronavirus pandemic highlighted the important role that health workers play in keeping communities operational. As modern-day heroes, nurses are on the frontlines caring for the well-being of citizens across the globe.
Filipino nurses in particular helped mitigate a worldwide shortage of about 5.9 million nurses. In celebration of Migrant Workers Day on June 7, WorldRemit introduces two Filipino nurses who agreed to share their stories of hope and sacrifice in the past two years.
For Karen Pros, a Filipina nurse who now lives in Texas, the greatest challenge she overcame when moving abroad was the differences in culture and the different role nurses play in the United States.
In the Philippines, Karen often worked alongside a team of intern nurses and fellows. In the US, she works closely with a team of doctors in the hospital with a higher volume of patients. Her work was made even more vital by the pandemic as the nurse-to-patient ratio in certain states increased from its recommended 1:1 to 1:4.
In 2009, Katrina Creer emigrated from the Philippines to New Zealand in search of new opportunities. Nursing can be tough and for Katrina, the greatest challenge has been adapting to the increased pressure her responsibilities at work have put on her family, many times having to isolate from her family while treating COVID-19 infected patients.
Now located in Melbourne, Australia, Katrina is regularly pulled outside of her day-to-day responsibilities and asked to work extended hours or take on additional shifts in hospitals across the city due to a high demand for healthcare professionals.
Despite the challenges she has faced in the field over the past two years, Katrina says the fulfillment that she gets from nursing is enough to outweigh the challenges.
“The best part of being a nurse is to be able to say that with my job, I am able to help make the world a better place. To me, nursing is a calling rather than a profession. When I get to see patients get better and families thanking the medical team, that’s more than enough. It’s something that money can’t reciprocate or compensate for,” she said.
Katrina has also given back to her country by hosting over 30 Filipino nurses during her time in New Zealand. As one of the first Filipina nurses to migrate to New Zealand, she helped new OFWs get settled and taught them the tips and tricks of living abroad, while also accommodating them for six weeks at a time as they studied for bridging courses.
Through remittances, Karen and Katrina have given back to their country and communities. For Katrina, she is now helping her cousins finish their college degrees by sending money home for their education. For Karen, her eldest child has been inspired by her mothers’ career and through remittances, is pursuing a future in healthcare.
Online money transfer services enable Filipino nurses to continuously care for and provide for their families back home despite the distance—from paying for tuition fees and uniforms, to health expenses. With the speed of WorldRemit, Katrina was able to quickly support her father when he contracted COVID and again when Typhoon Odette devastated her home province of Cebu in 2021.
“Despite the physical and emotional demands of their occupation, our Filipino nurses manage to continue to provide for their loved ones. Throughout this pandemic, OFWs have continued to be a life-force to the Philippine economy, their own households, and the citizens in their host countries. WorldRemit provides OFWs with cost-efficient, reliable digital remittance services to bridge connections and build brighter futures for their families and many others across the world,” said WorldRemit country director Earl Melivo.