Time is gold, don’t let it pass. Regrets come later.
While Filipino nurses who managed to work abroad ahead of you got the headstart in establishing their presence and securing their future, some of them probably learned valuable lessons as pioneers. These lessons include things they wished they did and things they regret not doing. They might regret not upskilling early, or they might also regret making impulsive property purchases too soon.
As a career, Filipino nurses deployed in the United Kingdom are happy with their profession whose job description to look after patients have evolved into a stronger relationship built on implicit trust. But to make the most of feeling fulfilled in their jobs taking care of patients and getting paid to do so, there are items that further secure their future.
Filipino nurses in the United Kingdom receive so many benefits from work and the government welfare system that staying at their current status may not sound unwise. However, after a careful assessment, and hearing the common “I should have” statements from nurses who arrived ahead of us, there are valuable things that you should act on immediately and never delay.
Failure to register at a nurses union group
Filipino workers abroad have the tendency to save as much as they can to maximize their dollar remittance back home. In the process, they sacrifice what could be career savers. One of them is a nursing trade union that assists nurses in various ways such as promoting their worker rights, representing their interests such as negotiating pay terms or lobbying governments to improve the quality of patient care, among others.
Popular nursing union organizations are the Royal College of Nursing and Unison. Some nurses forgo membership in these organizations as a way to save costs. While this move can indeed save money, nurses are also left vulnerable or on their own in case of trouble — discrimination at work, unreasonable termination, or involvement in a case against medical malpractice. These unfortunate circumstances could be a costly affair for non-union nurses, and in some cases, might even cost them their careers.
So even if it costs extra, signing up with a nurses union group is like buying extra insurance and a measure of peace of mind.
Failure to save for a visa
Employers who offer employment to Filipino nurses in the UK often include coverage on visa costs. However, it’s the nurses themselves who will shoulder the visa renewal fees and subsequent costs involved in processing their British citizenship application after six years. In 2022, the cost of visas under ‘Indefinite leave to remain – main applicants and dependants’ is 2,389 GBP (P161,210).
While Filipino nurses certainly have the capacity to pay for such fees given their payscale, this extra expense is significant and needs a prior savings plan. This can be done by allocating monthly savings for up to six years like installment payments for a new car.
Those who fail to prepare for visa costs may end up applying for loans and end up paying extra for loan repayment interests.
Failure to obtain a driver’s license
For medical professionals who live close to the workplace, the idea of learning to drive and earn a driver’s license might not prompt a sense of urgency. But as they learn more about the UK — places to go, ideal places to settle, and employment opportunities — many of these places may require a car out of convenience or even necessity.
Those who decided not to obtain their driver’s license could end up with limited mobility between home and work as well as career opportunities without sacrificing convenience, time and effort.
Failure to upskill
Getting an employment offer in the UK is certainly a blessing but it might also create a mentality that keeps nurses stay within their comfort zone as they acclimatize to their new work environment. This means forgoing extra initiatives such as taking courses to upgrade skills and opportunities for promotion and pay rise.
Those employed by the National Health Service, for example, are presented with the chance to progress their careers with training being offered. As these skill upgrades require extra effort and sacrifice of one’s time, it’s not unusual for some nurses to take a pass. But as many of those who took the route realized, they regret not taking these courses to upgrade their pay scale.
Failure to plan on property ownership
Investing in the UK property market is much more expensive than in the Philippines so it’s understandable that newcomers in the country would feel intimidated. Instead, they get offers to invest in the Philippines, with the urging from family and friends left behind. At the time they feel uncertain if they would stay in the UK for good, or go back to the Philippines.
But after more than 10 years in the country, these nurses regret not making an initial entry into the property market and owning their homes. Instead, they continue to rent and are subject to rising property values. Worse, they need to continue paying to manage the property in the Philippines, adding to their monthly expenses.
Healthcare professionals who arrived in the UK ahead of the others shared their most common regrets. Their regrets serve as lessons to newcomers who should have a better headstart once they arrive in the UK.