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Decker recruits nurses from Philippines

By : By Rachel Coker

The Decker School of Nursing and Lourdes Hospital will join forces in a partnership designed to address the global nursing shortage.

This spring, a group of Filipino nurses will begin studying for master’s degrees at Decker while working part time at Lourdes. After graduation, they’ll stay and work full time at the hospital for a year to 18 months.

The program, coordinated by the Global Scholarship Alliance, benefits all involved:

Decker will boost enrollment with well prepared, funded graduate students.

Lourdes gets highly qualified nurses.

Students earn a master’s degree and training that will help them become leaders in their home country’s health care system.

Joyce Ferrario, dean of the Decker School, emphasized that this arrangement will help address the nursing shortage locally while giving something back to the Philippines. Generally, when nurses are recruited from overseas the result is a brain drain in the international community because they end up staying in the United States.

“Dealing with the GSA has been a joy,” Ferrario said. “Everything they do is well done.”

Lindsay Lake Morgan, an assistant professor in the Decker School, can attest to that. She went to the Philippines in August with two Lourdes employees to meet candidates for the program. All were pleased with the quality of the roughly 30 applicants GSA had selected from a field of nearly 400.

“The thing that struck us most about the nurses is their desire to do this,” Morgan said. “This is the opportunity of their lives.”

The nurses have a bachelor’s degree and some professional experience, though because Filipinos finish high school at 16, many are still quite young.

Both of the Lourdes employees who went to Manila on the recruiting trip are Binghamton University graduates. Diane Brooks is manager of nursing support services, while Cheryl Orzel-Teris is nurse director for telemetry.

Brooks said Lourdes agreed to participate because the effort meshed so well with its vision. “It was in tune with Lourdes’ philosophy and Lourdes’ nursing philosophy,” she said. Like Morgan, Brooks was quite impressed by the candidates. “They’re so committed to the profession of nursing,” Brooks said, “and I think that stems from their culture because they’re so family oriented and community oriented.”

The team from Lourdes and Binghamton winnowed the applicants down to 18 men and women. Those nurses will next take the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) and the National Council Licensure Examination for Practical Nurses (NCLEX) and go through other administrative and immigration reviews. GSA expects a group of about seven will clear all of those hurdles and come to the Southern Tier in the spring.

The nurses will make up a substantial portion of the roughly 70 master’s degree students on campus, though they’ll be a small fraction of the 510 nurses employed by Lourdes.

Once they arrive, the nurses will face some serious obstacles. For one thing, the American medical system will be new to them. The nurses won’t be familiar with U.S. insurance issues or some technology and they’ll find that American nurses have a different relationship with doctors than those in the Philippines.

“I think they will be a bit challenged,” Morgan said. “But I also think they’ll meet those challenges without a problem.”

There’s also concern about how the nurses will cope with being so far from home for such an extended period.

“I think the real challenge will be in the adaptation to the American culture,” Brooks said.

GSA has a plan to orient the nurses culturally and clinically, though, and teams of faculty members and hospital employees are eager to begin working with them.

“There’s no doubt that they will work very hard both at Lourdes and as students,” Morgan said.
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Last Updated: 10/14/08