New Graduates – Heed My Advice

Remember when we were all children and our aunts and uncles and grandparents would all ask us, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” Most of the adults followed the question with an ambiguous statement: “You can be anything you want to be.” This is not entirely false, but to a child, this statement sounds like there’s some magic occupation wand that you stand in front of when you’re older; declare you want to be a superhero, and then POOF! You’re a crime fighting cyborg impervious to bullets and rockets.

 

Maybe my ambitions as a child were somewhat different from yours, but the point here is that when we’re told we can be whatever we want to be, the adults conveniently leave out all it takes to achieve our goals, all the hard work involved, and the fact that as we mature, our personalities may lead to different roads in the career path. Very few can say they followed their ambitions as a child and became what we told adults we wanted to be.

 

I’ll spoil my story for you; I’m not a crime fighting cyborg.

 

But, you’ve made it this far, completed all the educational requirements, got your degree and now you’re faced with another challenge: the job interview. YIKES!

 

It can be tough to predict the questions you’ll hear during the job interview, but in the healthcare field, there are a lot of likely questions that are typically geared towards new graduates you can prepare yourself for.

 

  1. Landing the job interview.

Frequently, new graduates experience tremendous difficulty in even being considered for a job. When facilities obtain your resume, they quickly recognize that you’re a new graduate and they’ll put your resume to the side in favor of someone who has experience. It’s prudent to make yourself known on a more proactive level, and maintain persistency. On a weekly basis, plan a route to visit facilities in person to drop off your resume instead of emailing it. Ask the receptionist who you need to speak with at the facility to discuss employment opportunities, and if that person is unavailable, revisit the facility the following week and ask to speak with that person again. You’ll be turned away quite often, but don’t be discouraged; eventually the right people will take notice of your persistency.

 

  1. Facility concerns.

The bottom line is: all facilities are worried about longevity. How long will they be able to retain you as an employee? Usually, healthcare facilities are not open to the idea of accepted a new graduate because of concern about spending valuable resources to train personnel that may result in wasted effort once you’ve been exposed to the true nature of the job and decide that this isn’t what you had expected. Make it known in your interview that you have a ‘never quit’ attitude, that you’re eager to fulfill the employers’ expectations of a model employee, and that you can easily adapt to changes in your environment.

 

  1. What made you decide to pursue healthcare?

This is a question commonly asked, and the most common answer is: “I like helping people.” While this isn’t the wrong answer, there’s probably a better one, or at least a more euphemistic one. As a new graduate, there are hundreds of others with the same credentials giving the same answer for the same position. What makes you stand out? Dig down and find out what really made you want this particular career. There’s something unique to you personally that encouraged this endeavor. Tell the story in as much detail as possible.

 

  1. What do you know about the facility?

Any employer is always impressed when the interviewees knows a bit about the company. Do your homework. Find out how long the facility has been open for, how many beds there are, how many units, and the track record of the facility during state reviews.

 

  1. Educational background.

This isn’t necessarily something that you should spend too much time on, but it’s important to discuss what challenges you experienced in school, and the steps you took to overcome these challenges. This will show your discipline, something every employer wants to see.

 

  1. Make yourself available.

Healthcare is a 24 hour job, and if you lay down the law and limit what shifts you’ll be willing to work, the facility will have no interest in you. At the same time, you don’t want to appear too desperate by telling them you’re available “whenever”. Tell them your preferences, but make it known that you’re anxious to take on the challenges of any hour and that you’re in an ideal position personally to offer flexibility with scheduling.

 

 

The first job you’re offered may not be exactly what you had in mind when you started going to school, but the most important aspect of your professional profile that you’re currently missing is experience. By all means, you shouldn’t jump at the first opportunity either. Make sure you feel comfortable with what you’ve already been exposed to with the facility. Once you’ve gained at least a year of experience, many doors will open up to you and you’ll be well on your way towards following the career path you initially had in mind.

 

Sincerely,

 

Jesse Rose

To those that served to make this country what it is today…We Say Thank You!!!

To those that served to make this country what it is today...We Say Thank You!!!

Your Sacrifice is what made us United States of America

We Will Offer Whatever little we can…

Hurricane Sandy turned out to be more devastating than anyone had expected, leaving millions without power, destroying homes, causing flooding, and crippling transit throughout the tri-state area. Even though the storm is over, we at Meridian Nurse Recruiters hope that you are all safe, and we are inviting anyone to our office in Elmhurst, who may need a cup of hot coffee, a warm place to catch your breath, or a place to re-charge your electronic devices. Our door is open to you!

 

With Multiple Degrees and a Stable Job – Why Do They Still Leave?

I recently received an application from a Philippine-based RN ‘dreaming’ to work in US. The application packet, although complete and very professionally prepared, was sent through the applicant’s mother’s friend’s friend — infamously and laughably a common cultural practice in the Philippines that seeped its way into the modern workplace and overseas. Known as the ‘padrino system’ or patronage,  this is a system where one primarily gains favor through family affiliation  or friendship  before an applicant’s merit. 

The applicant is initially a BS Biology graduate of one of the best universities in the country, of which entries to both the system and the course program are cut-throat battles in the Philippine academe. Yet despite the laurels, the applicant immediately  went back to school after graduation and took up BS Nursing. Armed with this new degree, he simultaneously applied to reputable hospitals in Metro Manila while diligently preparing for the exam administered by the Texas Board of Nursing. Bright and determined, the applicant succeeded in both: got a much desired job in a famous modern hospital and passed the Texas Board exam for nurses in one take. Unfortunately for the applicant, the visa classification for RNs and professionals is on retrogression so US is definitely not in the applicant’s horizon. Unfortunately for the Philippines, if not the United States, there will be other Western countries that will employ him. Unfortunately for all the developing countries in the world such as former African colonies, Carribean Islands, East Germany, Soviet Union, India,  the case is not isolated in the Philippines. These countries’ brain drain is a brain gain to most highly developed North American, European and Asian countries.

For more info on retrogression, click here for our previous post.

This biologist turned RN wanting to work in US is a classic case of brain drain. Brain drain aka human capital flight is the not only the departure of educated or professional people from one country, it can also be from one economic sector, or field for another, usually for better pay or living conditions. Brain drain is often associated with de-skilling of emigrants in their country of destination, while their country of emigration experiences the draining of skilled individuals. Worse, a lot of these professionals emigrate to another country taking with them a fraction of value of their training sponsored by the government or other local organizations. They can’t be blamed though. They move to countries where their highly marketable skills are  financially rewarded.

Just to better illustrate the disparity in compensation, below is an official rate sheet of an RN working in an Upscale hospital in Metropolitan Manila.

The current market rate of an RN working in an Upscale hospital in Metropolitan Manila. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cut this by half or third, and that’s the approximate salary of RNs working in less prestigious hospitals. Some RNs don’t even get paid and many others pay the hospital in order to get work experience.

This is the salary equivalent in US dollars based on $43.00-Php 1.00 exchange rate. 

Salaries in converted to US dollars.

 

 

 

 

 

 

……

Illustrated below is the estimated annual compensation  of Med-Surg and CCU RNs in Metro New York as published by http://www.salary.com. A Med Surg nurse’s median annual salary is $76, 937 ($6,412/month) while a CCU nurse gets $ 77, 303 ($6,442/month) based on a 35-40 hour work week. 

.

Visa Retrogression – What does it mean to professional immigrant workers?

Before June of this year, there were two major visa categories that are popular among professional immigrant workers: the H1b Visa aka work visa and EB2 or the greencard route.

H1B visa is a non-immigrant visa that allows US employers to temporarily employ professional foreign workers in specialty occupations. On the other hand, EB2 Visa is a permanent residency route for professionals holding advanced degrees (Ph.D., master’s degree, or at least five years of progressive post-baccalaureate experience) or persons of exceptional ability in sciences, arts, or business.

Unfortunately, the USCIS has announced that the 2013 H-1B visa cap has been reached as of June 11th. Any cases received after June 11th will be rejected and returned with filing fees uncashed. However, the rejected and would-be applicants may file again next fiscal year. The next blow is that the July 2012 visa bulletin shows that the ‘worldwide EB2′ visa category has retrogressed almost 3 years. This is the one category that remained consistently ‘current’ in recent years (together with EB1).

What happens now?

Photo from http://redbus2us.com. Edited by author.

For more information about RETROGRESSION, click this link.

For USCIS Visa Bulletin, click here.

What does RETROGRESSION mean to professional immigrant workers and their employers? This could mean long waiting times for green cards.  This means job employment offers need to be rewritten or  projects be off-shored.  In uncertain cases such as this, not much can be done than to persevere and tuck growing disappointment. There are surely other legal routes to continue working in America while hoping that these two visas will be available again soon.

US immigration system is not ideal and reform is essential to ensure Uncle Sam does not lose talented people to help boost the economy and create jobs.Right now, all that is left to do is wait. Let us see what the future has in store.

SOURCE: http://www.uscis.gov

Disclaimer: This is a post written from a layman’s perspective and should not be regarded as an immigration advice.  For valid legal advice, consult an immigration lawyer.

Bright prospects seen for PH office market | Inquirer Business

Bright prospects seen for PH office market | Inquirer Business.

Happy Father’s Day!

Switching Roles

The man’s name is Rommel. Rommel’s routine everyday included dropping and picking up 3 kids in school, and running errands, making the house tidy, preparing meals, doing the laundry  in between. His wife is a successful nurse practitioner who works full time in a large New York hospital and serves as consultant in several other healthcare facilities. She leaves at 7 am and goes home past 8 every night. After she parks the car in the house garage, the exhausted and work-weary wife turns to the TV until she falls asleep. Rommel, who just took out the dishes from the rack, then makes sure the children are ready for bed. With the children in slumber, he can then prepare the things he need to survive the following day before he goes to bed.

This is Rommel’s life. There are more husbands like him today. They are slowly redefining the word ‘father’. Roles are being switched by occupational demands and requirements, but fathers will always be fathers in our hearts.

Happy Father’s Day!

Happy Mother’s Day from Meridian Nurse Recruiters Staff and Friends!

Immigration Woes of a Physical Therapist – Inquirer.Net

Happiness 2011

By: 

 

What would make me happy?

A great job?

A hot boyfriend?

A fulfilling relationship?

A brand-new car?

Travel around the world?

Or just getting along better with myself?

What is happiness all about?

There’s no universally accepted definition of what happiness is. To some, it’s free, to others it may costmillions of pesos. Happiness comes in different forms.

My project for 2011 was to find its meaning, and I was convinced I knew exactly what I needed to achieve it.

I like making time frames, planning ahead and setting goals. I do this on a daily, monthly and yearly basis.  I would list down the things that I need to do every day and I put a check mark on each once I’m done with it, and it gives me a sense of accomplishment.

For 2011, I had a long list of expectations and goals, and little did I know that one would turn into an obsession…

I got obsessed with my American dream.

If only there are better career opportunities here in the Philippines for physical therapists, I would prefer to just stay and be with my family. To work there one has to go through a long, cumbersome process and to take the state board exam which is given only in the United States. A few nightmares we have to go through are: “credentialing” to make sure our education is equivalent to US standards; passing the English exam; and getting a US visa.

I had been working on this for quite some time, and I was hoping that I could make it happen in 2011. I said to myself that if I made it, I would be truly happy. I got close to achieving this goal, so close that I could almost taste it.

But life is truly unpredictable, there are certain things that are beyond our control. Some decisions are not ours to make.

Despite everything I did, I wasn’t able to leave. This made me feel so frustrated, I felt like the universe was treating me unfairly.

So the waiting game continues to this day.

It was March when I was told by my agency to wait for six more months. Six months felt like forever, I consoled myself by saying I’ll get by, I’ll just make the most during the “waiting period.” But six months turned to seven, then nine. To make a long story short, it has been approximately four years (and still counting) of waiting since I was told to wait for six more months.

The waiting game made me feel insane!  I got feelings of anxiety and impatience. I blamed the universe for playing tricks on me. I felt like a lollipop has been dangled in front of me only to be cruelly taken away just as I reached out for it. I quietly prayed to God and asked for answers.  “Lord I thought you want me to be happy, but why is this happening?  But whatever it is, Lord, I trust you, I know you have better plans for me.”

After the phone call I had from my agency telling me about another “delay,” I wanted to cry, but my three-year-old niece gave me a tight warm hug which made me feel better.

During the waiting period, I did a lot of stuff just to keep my mind from my frustrations. I would offer to babysit my adorable niece and nephew at my brother’s new home (they recently moved to the Philippines from Singapore). I spent more time with my family. I also went back to the review center and met amazing people and new friends. I was able to enjoy running again and joined my brother and some friends in a couple of fun runs. I got into yoga and enjoyed it beyond my expectations. And I was able to do a lot of reading, caught up with my favorite TV programs and movies.  I was able to play the guitar and sing again. I had more “me” time (thank you for the amazing online deals that I was able to get for myself and the pampering that I needed). I was able to sort out my cluttered thoughts, which enabled me to write this.

Year 2011 was all about waiting, and during this period, I realized that I found the happiness I have been looking for.  My family, my friends, my newfound interests, the good weather, an appreciation from patients thanking me for somehow making them feel better are just some of the countless things that made me happy in the year past. I learned about faith-based optimism, to let go of expectations and my obsession about achieving a specific goal at a particular time. I also learned that it’s good to plan and to be optimistic about your plans, but no matter how hard a person plans something, if it is not the right time, it won’t happen.

I do have plans, but it is God’s plan that will prevail in the end. This waiting period has given me the opportunity to understand what I really want, and to realize that some dreams would not necessarily give me the happiness that I am looking for.

Like what most people say, a flower will grow and bloom on its own good time. There’s no need to give it a deadline. If it’s not growing as fast as we want to, we just have to trust Mother Nature. For a beautiful flowerto bloom, it has to have enough water and sunlight. We can always trust a flower to bloom, but we cannot guarantee the precise moment when it will spread its petals. So is trusting God, He knows what is best for us, and we can always complement our hard work and determination with prayers.

Happiness is like a switch; when to turn it on or off is within our control, we just have to know where the switch is. It is something that we don’t wait to happen, it is something that we do. It doesn’t wait on time, it is not something that waits for the future. We just have to open up and let it in.

I celebrated New Year’s Eve with my loved ones and I can say that my search for happiness has been a real success. I am looking forward to more reasons to be happy in 2012.  I will continue to pursue my dreams and finish what I have already started but this time, with a hopeful and happy heart because I believe that happiness leads to success, not the other way around. Success is the icing on the cake, the cherry on top of the ice cream, a bonus to my already awesome life.

 

Aina, 29, is a freelance physical therapist. She wrote this piece last New Year’s Eve, while looking back to year 2011.

Home care aides | Inquirer Opinion

Home care aides | Inquirer Opinion.

Last month US President Barack Obama ordered the labor department to look into the salaries of home careaides or people who help to care for the elderly and the infirm. At present, employers of home care aides are exempted from paying the workers a minimum wage and overtime pay.

I’m writing about this issue for two reasons. First many Filipinos in the United States (and other countries) work as home care aides and, secondly, here in the Philippines we have our own growing senior citizenpopulation, many of whom need home care aides.

Obama’s order comes after a long drawn-out battle waged by home care aides to improve their pay. In 2002, an elderly home care aide, Evelyn Cook, filed a lawsuit to overturn the exemption of home care aides from the minimum wage and overtime pay. The courts ruled against her and she died in 2009 at the age of 74, still earning $7 an hour and no overtime pay, although she often worked 24-hour shifts.

That $7 hourly wage should be put in context.  Based on a 40-hour week, that’s about $1,020 a month or $12,240 a year. In 2010, the poverty threshold for a single elderly person was $10,458. It’s hard to imagine how Cook managed when she was younger, raising five children as a single mother. No wonder Cook was reported to have worked on multiple jobs, and 24-hour shifts.

The reason home care aides are exempted from the minimum wage and overtime pay is that they are classified, together with babysitters, as providing “companion services.”  They are not seen as health professionals or even semi-professionals and are therefore given the bare minimum.

But with the graying of America’s populations, it is becoming clear that these home care aides are more than companions. They are supposed to help the elderly with six ADL or activities of daily living: bathing, dressing, transferring, using the toilet, eating and walking. Then there are six more IADL or instrumental activities of daily living: light housework, preparing meals, taking meals, shopping for groceries and clothes, using phones and managing money. Just looking at those 12 activities shows there’s a world of a difference between babysitters and home care aides.

If the home care aides are granted minimum wage and overtime pay, it will be a boon not just for them but also for the patients. Their low salaries translate into poor quality of care because of low motivation, overwork (from taking on extra jobs) and rapid turnover as the aides look for better-paying jobs.

Filipino elderly

Let’s look at the situation in the Philippines. For a population of about 95 million, with 4 percent over the age of 65, we would have 3.8 million senior citizens, certainly not a small number. Not all would require home care aides.  One US study estimated about 6 percent of those aged 65 would need home care aides but the figure jumps to 20 percent among those aged 85 or older. We need to do our own study for the Philippines but I am certain our figures will be similar, which means thousands of elderly needing assistance for daily living.

Notice how the term caregiver, referring to hired assistants, is now falling from disuse. The reason is that technically, a caregiver is anyone who provides care for a patient and in many cases in the Philippines, this is a relative. There is a gender bias here, with women relatives more likely to be asked to give up their careers and personal lives to provide this home care.

Relatives are not necessarily the best persons to provide intensive care for the elderly. Besides not being properly trained for their responsibilities, they have ambivalent feelings toward the patient, feeling obligated and yet harboring some resentment at having to give up so much of their own lives. Not surprisingly, relatives “volunteered” into this role burn out more easily.

The term “home care aide” is used to refer to someone from outside the family, but who is not a professional like a nurse or midwife. At the same time, home care aides should, ideally, be provided some formal training. In Canada, they also have to have an equivalent to two years of college.

It is important, certainly, for family members to provide care for their elderly but, when possible, someone from outside should be hired. Patients in critical condition, for example someone who just had a stroke, will need a special nurse.  Later, as the patient recovers, a midwife can come in. And for the elderly who basically need assisted living, for example those with Alzheimer’s and other dementia conditions, a well-trained home care aide can do very well.

Such services are not cheap. Special nurses are paid P1,800 for a 12-hour shift. Midwives go for about P500 to P700 per shift. Home care aides (or “caregivers” in the Philippine setting) vary tremendously but a good one, with proper six-month training, gets about P500 per shift. There are “colorum” special nurses, midwives and home care aides who will go for lower pay, but all I can say is you get what you pay for—with great risks, including abuse of the patient.

For economic reasons, many households end up getting a helper, sometimes with very little formal education, to take up the tasks of home care aides. They’re paid a pittance, P3,000 a month if they’re lucky. I once met one who was unpaid and only offered free board and lodging for her family.  She was literally on 24-hour call, the Lola calling her and her husband (who had outside work as a driver) in the middle of the night several times for food or toilet assistance.

We need studies to project our needs in this area and legislation not just on the salaries and work benefits for the aides, but also on their training and certification. We should avoid the disaster that came with those diploma mill caregiver institutions that sprouted on every corner, drawing Filipinos hoping they could work overseas. The diploma mills have closed down while thousands of their graduates are jobless, which is just as well since many were so badly trained they would have contributed to early deaths of their wards.  I speak here from experience, having interviewed some of these graduates, who couldn’t even understand medication doses, or do a blood pressure measurement.

The bottom line is that relatives must be part of the caring team with health care aides. My mother has a midwife and a trained caregiver rotating for day and night shifts, but I still turn down invitations for dinners (including the Inquirer’s anniversary party) or prolonged out of town trips because I consider it to be important to get an update from her carers, and, more importantly, to be at her side at the end of the day, even if for short moments.

I know, too, I am still fortunate, being able to be in the Philippines and with her. Too many Filipinos have to work overseas, ironically providing care for other nations’ children and elderly, while leaving their own behind, home and alone.

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