In a ceremony held at the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) headquarters in London, she was recognized in the presence of Anne Milton, MP, Parliamentary Undersecretary of State for Public Health. The awards were created in honor of the nurse, Mary Seacole, who made a significant contribution to nursing in the 19th century, including nursing wounded British soldiers during the Crimean War. They are funded jointly by the UK Department of Health and NHS Employers who work in partnership with the RCN and the Royal College of Midwives (RCM)
“I felt honored that I was selected amongst many nurses and midwives in this country because the award is both for nurses and midwives and to be given that prestigious award, I feel that I actually done something to make us all Filipinos proud,”said Freires during her interview with Rose Eclarinal of ABS-CBN Europe News Bureau.
Track Record of Excellence
Hers is just a simple story about the courage to embrace Nursing wholeheartedly and the essence of finding one’s niche to move forward. During one of her interviews, Ms. Freires admitted that she did not envision to be in the nursing profession but when prodded by her relatives to study nursing for her university degree, she almost immediately liked her chosen field. Her overseas work in the UK started in 1999 when her friend asked her to tag along and apply with her for a job in the UK. She did and never looked back.
“When I started doing it, I realized it was actually my personality and my character fit within the characteristics of what a good nurse should be. Since then, I always wanted to do my best in everything I do. I always give my 100%. If I start strong, I’d end strong,” she explained.
Freires is not new in receiving awards and recognition. She was a Cancer Research UK grant awardee in 2008 and received a 3-year funding for a master’s program in advanced practice. She was also awarded a grant worth £12,000 by Guy’s and St. Thomas’ Foundation Trust to develop an information DVD on Central Venous Access. It is now being used by the NHS.
“I guess in everything you do you have to aim high. It’s very difficult to work outside the country. Of course it is competitive in the Philippines but it is more competitive here because you are not just competing with Filipinos but you are competing with other races,” she explained.
Making a Difference as a Filipina
Speaking to ABS-CBN Europe News Bureau at Guy’s and St. Thomas Hospital, her colleagues, subordinates and former students only had accolades for her. They said they were inspired by Freires’ work ethos.
“I’m so proud of her, we are proud of her because she is the first Filipina to win this prestigious award. When we heard about it, we were just so happy for her,” said colleague Minni Salvador, a senior sister at Cancer Day Unit.
“Mylene is very hard working. Even if she is not well, she comes to work,” she added.
“Mylene has been a mentor throughout my central line insertion technique. She is very good. She is an amazing teacher,” said Elizabeth Crowther, a clinical nurse specialist.
Jane Hodson, a lead IV practitioner, said Freires is very passionate at what she does.
“I think it’s fantastic for the whole hospital that we have somebody like Mylene working here. She has personally mentored me, so I am very proud of her successes,” she added.
Meanwhile, Ms. Mylene Freires accepted the reward with humility and conviction, a cut above the rest. “I believe one of the reasons I was selected for the award was my work did not just make a difference for the patients in making their experiences better but I also challenged status quo and managed to bridge the gap between medical and nursing professions,” she said.
The Mary Seacole Leadership and Development Awards recognize nurses, midwives, and health visitors around the United Kingdom who make an outstanding contribution to patient care through development and leadership. The Development Award, worth £6,250, allows recipients to undertake a project that benefits the health needs of people from black and minority ethnic communities. The Leadership Award, worth £12,500, enable nurses, midwives, and health visitors in leadership positions to undertake a project to improve patient care. (www. worldclass-filipino.blogspot.com)
“The positive contribution of Filipino nurses and health care workers in the United Kingdom is highly appreciated by the British Government. Their care and compassion are sought after by patients. Our nurses are truly ambassadors of goodwill of the Philippines,” remarked Ambassador Enrique A. Manalo in his report to the DFA.
There are 60,000 Filipino health care workers in the UK, including 30,000 Filipino nurses.
The Filipino community in the UK is estimated at 250,000 and is organized into various professional, regional, and educational associations, including the Silliman University Alumni Association-United Kingdom Chapter of which Freires is an active member of its Board of Directors.