Happy International Nurses Day!

US IMMIGRATION NOTES - Atty. Marco F.G. Tomakin (The Freeman) - May 9, 2021 - 12:00am

May is a month of so many feasts and celebrations. It is also a month when a day is reserved to celebrate the heroism, grace, and fortitude of our nurses. The International Nurses Day is observed on May 12, the anniversary of the birth of the founder of modern nursing, Florence Nightingale. The World Health Organization, recognizing the dedication and sacrifice of the millions of healthcare workers extended the International Year of the Nurse and Midwife through 2021. This year, the International Council of Nurses has chosen the theme "Nurses: A Voice to Lead" with a subtheme of "A Vision for Future Healthcare."

True enough, the pandemic has provided the nurses a global platform upon which to showcase the science and art of care. There is no other time in history that the whole world sees and feels the noteworthy role nurses have played. This is not to minimize the significant contributions of other health professions, which we also appreciate, but for the most part, nurses are deep in the trenches sacrificing their own health and well-being and that of their families as we continue to fight in this war against the pandemic. I have nurse friends and know so many others who have been infected and some even died of COVID-19 after contracting the virus in the line of duty.

Personally, I have never been more proud as a nurse than these recent times. Having been involved up close in the frontlines myself, I have seen the dedication and hard work nurses do on a day-to-day basis. To come and work in 12-hour shifts wearing PPEs all the time, with little or no time even for a bathroom break, not to mention the huge risk of contracting the virus themselves, and come back to work again on the next day, I must say, nurses are a divine blessing. They do not do this for a paycheck or for the glamour of it. We are so blessed to have individuals as special as the nurses are who we know would take good care of us. If you know a nurse or just happen to meet one, please take a moment to express your appreciation and gratitude. We are a healthier world because of what they do and how they do it. Also and more importantly, let us make sure that our nurses' own mental health needs are answered as well. Please check on them and make yourself available even if they only need someone to vent out their feelings to.

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While we are still on the topic of nurses, one way of showing how much we value and honor their service is to join in their fight for better pay and decent working conditions. Ironically, Filipino nurses, highly-regarded around the world as the best and the brightest, still continue to suffer and endure the indignity of low wages and dangerous workplace environment in their own homeland. Nurses, mostly in the private sector are among the lowest-paid healthcare workers in the country. Worse, they are expected to work beyond their shifts under the guise of "exigency of service". It is not only the nurses' fight, we should all make it our own. If there is one thing that the pandemic has taught us, it is that we, as a society, are only as healthy and as safe as our healthcare workers are.

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