Filipino nurses are known for their excellence and dedication in the healthcare industry worldwide. It’s no surprise that many of them are sought after by countries in need of medical professionals, such as Germany. However, being an overseas Filipino worker (OFW) in a foreign land comes with its own set of challenges.
For a Filipina nurse working in Germany, the journey to success is far from easy. In this article, we will dive into the struggles that she faces every day, from getting full recognition to coping with homesickness.
Disclaimer: The information posted here is based on the personal experiences shared by the OFW in the video below. Please let this post serve as a guide only. If you have specific questions, you may ask the OFW by commenting on their video on their accounts.
Overcoming the Challenges: Life of a Filipina Nurse in Germany
The information in this article comes from the YouTube channel named Dai Clara&Jose. In this video vlogger talks about challenges she experienced and continue to experience while working in Germany. If you want to watch the full video, then click on the link below:
Based on her experience, here are the struggles the vlogger had while working as a nurse in Germany:
- Urkunde (certificate)
- Language (sprache)
- Work routine
Urkunde – or Getting Full Recognition as a Non-EU Nurse
- Understand the Screening Process – As a non-EU nurse in Germany, you will have to undergo a screening process to determine your qualifications to work as a nurse. The screening results could be fully recognized (vollständig anerkannt) or partially recognized (teilweise anerkannt), depending on your work experience and documents.
- Pass the Required Exams – Before coming to Germany, you should know that you have to pass two exams – the oral/practical exam and the practical exam. After passing the screening process, you will be taken to the Schulungszentrum or training center to prepare for the oral exam. The vlogger passed her oral exam in one take, which was a relief.
- Face the Challenge of Working and Preparing for the Exam – After passing the oral exam, the vlogger and her colleagues were deployed to the hospital, which posed a challenge for her. She had to work as a nurse while preparing for the exam, which required her to manage her time wisely. She had duty for 10-12 straight days, which made it more difficult to balance work and study.
- Take the Exam and Wait for the Results – After two months of working and studying, the vlogger finally took the exam. The exam was tough, but she passed it, which was a huge accomplishment. She could finally breathe a sigh of relief and celebrate her success.
- Enjoy the Fruits of Your Labor – After passing the exam, the vlogger became a fully recognized nurse in Germany. She could now work as a nurse without any restrictions and enjoy the benefits of being a recognized nurse. The hard work and sacrifices were all worth it in the end.
Here are a few important points with regards to language as a challenge working in Germany:
- Language is a struggle for foreign nurses in Germany, as German is required for work and communication outside of English-speaking environments.
- B1/B2 level German is required, but even with a B2 certificate, comprehension can be difficult due to accents and slang.
- Understanding German is important in order to work as part of a team with doctors and communicate with patients and their families.
- Initially, the vlogger struggled with answering the phone and understanding colleagues, but eventually learned to ask for clarification and not pretend to understand.
- Effort and communication with colleagues are key to continuous learning and improving language skills.
As a foreigner working in Germany, one of the biggest struggles for the vlogger has been the language barrier. While some people in Germany may know how to speak English, in many situations, including work and patient care, speaking German is a must. In fact, a B1 or B2 level of German is typically required for nurses working in Germany. Thankfully, before coming to Germany, the vlogger had already obtained a B2 certificate in German.
However, even after passing the B2 level, the vlogger found that her language struggles didn’t end there. In reality, experience with actual work and conversations with people in Germany can be much more challenging than studying a language in a classroom. While many people complimented her on her German skills when she first arrived, she found comprehension to be a major obstacle.
Understanding what is being said to you in German is crucial to being able to respond appropriately. While studying the language, one may learn vocabulary and grammar, but comprehension can be a struggle, particularly due to accents or regional slang. This was particularly true for the vlogger, as the region she worked in had its own unique colloquial language. This was a stark contrast to her experience in the Philippines, where the focus was primarily on providing care, rather than mastering a new language.
As a foreign nurse, it’s essential to learn the language and develop a strong understanding of it in order to communicate effectively with patients, colleagues, and doctors. Understanding what a doctor is saying about a patient, for instance, is crucial for a nurse’s job.
Likewise, when family members or visitors come to the hospital, they may have questions about the patient, and it’s important for the nurse to be able to communicate effectively with them.
When the vlogger first started her job, answering the phone was particularly challenging for her. However, she learned that it was important to push herself out of her comfort zone and answer the phone, even if it meant struggling through conversations at first. If she didn’t understand something, she found it helpful to repeat what was said or ask her colleagues for help.
While it may be tempting to fake understanding in order to fit in with colleagues, the vlogger advises against this. Instead, it’s better to be honest and ask for clarification if necessary. Pretending to understand can be dangerous, particularly in a medical context, and it’s important to prioritize patient safety over pride.
Ultimately, learning German is a continuous process, and it takes effort to improve. Communicating with colleagues regularly and practicing the language on a daily basis is essential for developing a strong understanding of German. While it may be challenging at times, the reward of being able to effectively communicate with patients and colleagues is well worth the effort.
- The vlogger previously worked with newborns and premature babies in Saudi Arabia, but now works with adult patients in Germany.
- She found it challenging to handle larger patients and to memorize the German names for equipment and materials in the hospital.
- Writing nurse notes and endorsements in German was also a struggle, as she had to use the right verbs and learn new phrases and words.
- During endorsements, she had difficulty understanding her colleagues’ notes and had to write down only the words she understood to learn later.
- The vlogger advises new nurses not to worry if they initially struggle with endorsements or understanding German medical terms, as it takes time to learn and become comfortable with the language and procedures.
The vlogger shared in a previous video that while she was working in Saudi Arabia, she had experience handling babies, including neonates, newborns, and even premature babies. However, when she moved to Germany, she found that she now mostly handles adult patients. She mentioned that most of her German patients are big and heavy, which initially posed a challenge for her when it came to positioning them.
When she was still starting out, transferring patients from the bed to the wheelchair would leave her arms and legs sore, but with experience and a knowledge of body mechanics, she eventually learned the right technique.
One of the challenges she faced in Germany was that the hospital equipment and materials are referred to by their German names, which she found difficult to memorize because there are so many of them. Additionally, writing nurse notes and endorsements in German was a struggle for her, as she had to use the correct verbs and ensure that everything was written correctly. However, she emphasized that it gets easier over time as you get used to it and do it more often.
She offered a tip for writing endorsements and nurse notes, which can be intimidating at first. During the endorsement process, all the outgoing and incoming nurses are in the same room, and the outgoing nurses will continuously endorse their patients while the incoming nurses take notes. When she first started out, her colleagues were already writing notes while she struggled to understand what was being said. However, she found that by writing down all the words she understood and translating them later, she was able to gradually improve her understanding of the language.
People / Colleagues
Here’s a summary of dealing with people or colleagues while working as a nurse in Germany:
- Working with colleagues from different cultures and backgrounds can be a challenge.
- Conflicts and problems in the workplace are inevitable, so don’t take them personally.
- Focus on your work when you’re at work, and don’t bring it home with you.
- Respect your colleagues, but don’t tolerate harassment or unacceptable behavior.
- Speak up and let your colleagues know if they’re being too much or if their behavior is negatively impacting you.
- Attend regular meetings and employee discussions to address and resolve issues in the workplace.
- People in Germany are direct, so it’s important to accept feedback and criticism without taking it personally.
The vlogger discussed how working in Germany can be a challenge due to the variety of colleagues with different cultural backgrounds and personalities. Conflicts and problems are inevitable in the workplace, and the vlogger herself had experienced being shouted at by a colleague despite doing nothing wrong. However, she learned not to take it personally and not to bring work problems home. Overthinking and taking bad experiences with others seriously are not helpful.
It is important to respect colleagues and speak up if someone did something bad or harassed you. It is also important to understand that sometimes people are going through things and may not realize the impact of their actions. If someone is being too much, letting them know can make them aware of their behavior. Regular meetings and employee discussions are opportunities to raise concerns and resolve issues.
In Germany, people are direct, and even a little bit of conflict can hurt. It is essential to accept feedback and decide whether to take it positively or negatively. If something is unacceptable, it is necessary to speak up so it can be resolved and not affect other people. In summary, adapting to different cultures and personalities in the workplace requires patience, understanding, and communication.
Being an overseas Filipino worker (OFW) can be challenging, especially when it comes to dealing with homesickness. Even if you have been working abroad for a long time, it’s natural to feel sad and miss your home country, family, and friends. The vlogger shares the following tips on how to cope with homesickness as an OFW.
- Acknowledge your feelings – The first step in dealing with homesickness is to recognize and accept that you are feeling homesick. It’s okay to feel sad and miss your home country.
- Keep yourself busy – One of the best ways to distract yourself from homesickness is to keep yourself busy. Don’t just stay in your house and dwell on your thoughts. Go out and explore your new environment. Take a walk, visit a local market, or go to a museum. If you have the budget, treat yourself to a nice restaurant or buy something you like from the store.
- Stay connected with your loved ones – Thanks to technology, it’s easier to stay connected with your loved ones even if you are miles apart. Make use of social media, messaging apps, and video calls to keep in touch with your family and friends.
- Take care of your mental health – Working abroad can be stressful, and it’s essential to take care of your mental health. Avoid stressors at work and in your environment. Surround yourself with positive people and good vibes.
- Pray for guidance – For many Filipinos, praying is a vital part of their daily lives. If you’re feeling homesick, try to pray for guidance and strength. Ask for God’s guidance in your journey as an OFW. It’s comforting to know that you have someone to turn to during difficult times.
In conclusion, being a Filipina nurse working in Germany is no easy feat. The challenges faced by our fellow kababayan are real and significant. From getting full recognition of their qualifications and experience to adapting to the language and work routine, to dealing with colleagues and homesickness, it takes a lot of courage, resilience, and determination to succeed in this field. At the end of the day, it’s all worth it when you finally get to work and enjoy Germany’s culture and society.