[OPINION] The trials of being a Filipina nurse with a foreign surname
I wanted to say that being a Filipina nurse with a foreign surname didn’t automatically mean I had a foreign husband, and that my loyalty to serving my country was something that could be questioned. In the first place, 3 years before that conversation, I chose to give up a working opportunity in Germany to come back to the Philippines so I could practice my profession and promote it through my art and writing. My "almost" German employer back then never even questioned my marriage status after going over my papers thoroughly. The blood I carried in my veins and my surname certainly had nothing to do with my passion and willingness to work in the healthcare setting. (READ: Filipino nurses: The world's frontliners vs the coronavirus)
Your place in the world is defined by what you contribute to make the world better for others, where you can give a bit more of yourself every day and still be happy about it. My creative contribution may not be much, but I do hope and pray that more and more of my fellow nurses will feel even more motivated and inspired to fight on.
Although I may not be wearing a hospital uniform at the moment, I never once forgot about my fellow nurses and other healthcare workers. I truly want to help in bringing the story of the Filipino nurse out into the world, for more people to know and understand our struggles and for them to finally see that we all deserve better.
To those who, like me, are currently inactive nurses recovering from the pain of rejection or awaiting new employment, finding your place takes time. Your place in the world doesn’t have to be where most people expect you to stay, like in my case now. What will matter in the end is how brave and creative one can be in finding (or making) new opportunities. Ultimately, it’s that state where you know that you’re finally brave enough to live and tell your story – that you’re more than just a name on a list.
Johanna Zehender is a registered nurse who writes to uplift nurses and fellow healthcare workers everywhere.