As a Filipino nurse living in a less than ideal situation, I have learned two things: First, the title RN is not for everyone, both literally and figuratively. Second, for those who luckily passed all the tests to belong to the roster of professionals under the “RN” category, two subcategories, unfortunately, have emerged: the RNs (i.e., Real Nurses with the genuine “heart” to serve) and those NRNs (i.e., “Napilitan lang maging RN kaya naging RN”). Now, the one million peso question is this: Which one are you?
Yesterday, a harmless but depressing post from a fellow participant in an online Filipino Nursing forum suddenly caught my attention. Here is a snapshot of her sentiments:
To cut the long story short, that nursing student above wanted to be a veterinarian but was forced to take up Nursing; a typical story from a typical Nursing student trapped within an intricate web of societal and family influences. Several years ago, international demands for Filipino nurses sky rocketed and the term “brain drain” phenomenon had enveloped the whole nursing industry. But that was 8-10 years ago. Now, the dice of life is not working for our nurses’ favor. Supply has exceeded demands tremendously, leaving the hopes of nursing graduates hanging in the balance. And this bitter truth now haunts those nurses who were either forced to take the course or influenced by friends and relatives to make the choice. And as the dreams of Filipino nurses to get to the ‘land of milk and honey’ becoming more bleak than ever, some nurses (including the student nurse above) are starting to realize that love for Nursing, at its purest form, should not be half-baked. Not all people can be a nurse, just like not all math-lovers can be engineers. But who deserves the blame for the plight of this “NRNs” nowadays?
Is it the student with a young mind gullible enough to be influenced and pressured on what path he/she should take in life? Is it the family or the parents who put emphasis more on financial rewards rather than fulfillment in choosing a career for their sons and daughters? Or is it the government and their false advertisements which has resulted in the mushrooming of fly-by-night schools with a sole intention of getting money from the hapless nurse-wannabes? For me, there is no absolute answer as circumstances differ from one person to another.
We can’t blame an NRN for ending up as such because, though she fought for her “real dream” with all her might, she had no choice as financial support for her education was out of her hands at that time; it would be better for her to concede than ending up without a single bachelor’s degree. We can’t also blame the family of that NRN because they were just victims as well, blindly believing that Nursing is the key to be free from poverty and establish a successful career abroad; they just wanted the ‘right path’ for their son or daughter, nothing more and nothing less. Neither can we blame the government nor the nursing school, for the “power of choice” is always for us to use. In the end, knowing what you really want, and fighting for it, is all that matters. If you really have a dream that keeps your heart beating and your blood flowing, then you should have the ultimate courage to defy all odds to follow and achieve it.
I want to reiterate again that Nursing is all about handling and taking care of human lives. And when I say human lives, I mean REAL human life and not just another fake dummy that you can fool around. Nursing is a serious profession and one can’t afford to commit even a single mistake. In Nursing, perfection is the name of the game and because NRNs are not doing their jobs wholeheartedly (as they were just forced to love the profession and have no choice but to “use their licences”), chances are they will commit mistakes and hate every single day that they work as a nurse. I’m not generalizing here because I know a lot of NRNs who turned out to be competent nurses and have learned to love the profession. But if you know that your heart is not on Nursing, I’m challenging you to step out and chase your dreams. If you are a student nurse just months before your graduation, be patient, wait for that moment and take the licensure exam so it will be a win-win situation for you and your family who supported your Nursing education from the beginning. Then, as you gain independence, you are now free to follow what your heart really wants. It won’t harm if you end up being a nurse-writer, a nurse-photographer, a nurse-teacher, or a nurse-lawyer, as long as you are able to heed your calling and achieve a certain fulfillment no amount of money can buy. Remember, you only have one life to live and if you don’t muster all the courage to pursue what you want, then you will end up reaping despair instead of integrity when you reach your graying years. To be an NRN is one thing but to stay as an NRN doing less than ideal nursing job for the rest of your life is another. I’m telling you, it’s better to live by choice, not by chance.
And if you’re one of the lucky ones who belong to the RN (Real Nurse) category and consider Nursing as your first love, you deserve a standing ovation because you have chosen a noble profession that entails dedication, hard work, and a God-given “heart” to serve and care for others. You are an angel in disguise and you deserve every kind of recognition. Take pride on your profession despite every discrimination and road block you will meet along the way, because in the end, you will always be an “RN”, a nurse by profession and a nurse by heart.
Whether you are an “RN” or an “NRN”, what’s important is that a person is not defined by his or her mistakes in life; “who you will be” is more important that “who you were” in the past. Nursing is not a dead end but a stepping stone to a lot of bigger opportunities. All it takes is an open mind and open heart that will accept every possibilities.
RN or NRN, the choice is still yours.
Now, which one are you?