During the serious nursing shortage of the 1960s and ‘70s, hundreds of nurses from the Philippines were brought to America to fill RN staffing gaps. Many of these immigrant nurses chose to stay permanently in the U.S. and went on to achieve successful careers as clinicians and nurse educators. But who exactly are today’s Filipino nurses? What roles do they play within the U.S. health care system? What impact have they made on nursing practice in America over the last 30-40 years?

These are questions the Philippine Nurses Association of America (PNAA) hoped to answer when it embarked on a two-year project to conduct a national demographic study of Filipino nurses in the U.S. “While the contribution of Filipino nurses to health care in the United States has long been recognized, specific demographic data on Filipino nurses are negligible,” explains PNAA board member Daisy M. Rodriguez, RN, MN, MPA, the study’s principal investigator. In the project’s initial stage, participating PNAA chapters surveyed nurses coast to coast, collecting data from a total of 347 respondents.

Despite the small sample size, the results–which were presented at the 2002 PNAA National Convention in Philadelphia and published in the association’s newsletter–contain some interesting findings:

• The average age of the respondents was 48.3 years.

• The vast majority (97%) were born in the Philippines.

• Most respondents (85%) were U.S. citizens; 12.6% were citizens of the Philippines.

• Nearly three-fourths (73.6%) had BSN degrees; 12.6% held diploma degrees and 6.9% had associate’s degrees. Nearly 15% went on to earn master’s degrees and 3.3% had doctoral degrees. Most of the respondents (87%) received their nursing training in the Philippines; 13% were trained in the U.S.

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• The majority of respondents (39%) were highly experienced, averaging 21-30 years of nursing practice. Most are still working full-time (82.8%) while 6.9% are retired.

• Hospitals are the primary practice area for most respondents (91.5)%. The rest are in public health, education, outpatient services, home health, skilled nursing facilities and occupational health.

• Med/surg was the most frequently cited nursing specialty (34%), followed by OR/PACU (20.7%), critical care/ER (15.9%) and ambulatory/outpatient (13.4%). An impressive 11% hold positions in health care administration.

Acknowledging that the number of responses received was “far short from the target number expected for a national study,” the PNAA is currently in the process of gathering additional demographic information to expand its database. Filipino nurses who would like to participate in the survey should contact Daisy Rodriguez at 2130 Canyon Crest Ave., San Ramon, CA 94583, fax (925) 735-3157, email [email protected], to receive a questionnaire.

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