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, some items further secure their future.
Filipino nurses in the United Kingdom receive so many benefits from work and the government welfare system that is 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 tend to save as much as possible 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 save money, nurses are also left vulnerable or alone 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 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, the nurses 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 – principal applicants and dependants’ was 2,389 GBP (P161,210).
While Filipino nurses certainly can 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 paying extra for loan repayment interests.
Failure to obtain a driver’s license
For medical professionals living close to the workplace, 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 necessity.
Those who decided not to obtain their driver’s license could have limited mobility between home and work and career opportunities without sacrificing convenience, time, and effort.
Failure to upskill
Getting an employment offer in the UK is certainly a blessing. Still, it might also create a mentality that keeps nurses in their comfort zone as they acclimate to their new work environment. This means forgoing extra initiatives such as taking courses to upgrade skills and opportunities for promotion and pay rise.
For example, those employed by the National Health Service are presented with the chance to progress their careers with the training 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 felt uncertain if they would stay in the UK for good or return to the Philippines.
But after more than ten years in the country, these nurses regret not entering the property market and owning their homes. Instead, they continue to rent and are subject to rising property values. Worse, they must 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.