12 Feb Happy in Hesse: Filipino Nurses Are Well Settled in Germany
More and more healthcare institutions and nursing facilities are now recruiting foreign healthcare professionals to counter the skills shortage in the sector. But not all the nurses and caregivers who come to Germany are happy and settled here. Whether these people stay long term in the country depends very much on how well they can integrate into society here. Care With Care goes to great lengths to familiarize the nurses with their new working and living environment and to encourage them to stay for a long time with their selected employer. The following interview with Wilvin S., a pioneer of the Care With Care program, tells us how he felt when he moved to Germany and how he settled in at his place of work and to life in the German state of Hesse. His experiences can also provide employers with useful tips for recruiting personnel from abroad.
Wilvin, what made you decide to come to work in Germany?
Originally, I was not focused on coming to Germany, I just wanted to work abroad. There are many countries in Europe with good job opportunities. But since I already had some family support here in Germany, it made sense for me to check out the job situation here. I was looking for a better future, better job opportunities, and other development opportunities regarding my career. And I’m in a good place here in Germany. There is a lot of support available for people to start a new life.
How did you find the Care With Care recruitment program for nurses?
I heard about it in 2014 during my training and I also heard that they were about to start a pilot project. That fit in well with my plans to go to Europe, so I applied to Care With Care looking for a healthcare position in Germany. The whole process with Care With Care was very professional from start to finish. We received a lot of help with the procurement of the necessary documents, for example.
Did you have any fears or anxieties at the beginning? What were the principal challenges you faced?
The greatest challenge for me was to find the right job and dealing with all the red tape of course. The agreement between our two countries was still relatively new and many of the processes were untested. But with the help of the Care With Care staff, we could solve any problems and I quickly found a suitable job. And then there was the language barrier of course: At the beginning I was very anxious about learning German because it is a very difficult language for many foreigners. When I look back now, I never would have imagined that I would be able to speak the language so well in such a short time!
What was it like when you arrived to Germany? How were you received?
I arrived in Germany in January. It was cold and there was snow on the ground. But I received a wonderful warm welcome from my new employer. I was personally introduced to all the employees in the facility. I was given a very good insight into the processes in place in the care facility and the initial training was excellent. In my opinion, your first impressions and the feeling of being welcome in a new workplace depend very much on the employer’s interest in you.
What do you like most about your job as a nurse in Germany?
A lot of things here are very different to the Philippines. The working world is organized very differently in Germany. Each person has greater responsibility for his own work area and I perform a lot of tasks that were previously not part of my scope of services, for example, I carry out many of the tasks of a ward nurse such as wound treatment and the documentation of care. This shows that the managers here have confidence in the care personnel, which I very much appreciate. The work itself is very satisfying. The relationship between me and my employer is good, and I really enjoy all the tasks that I carry out. With the labor laws here, I am well protected. I earn more than I would in my home country and my salary is transferred to my account every month without fail.
Career opportunities too are much better here than in the Philippines.
And what is your impression of Germany as a country?
When I first arrived, it took quite a bit of getting used to. Everything is different here: the food, the weather, the culture. What amazes me about Germany is how well everything is organized here. There are rules and laws which people respect. This discipline enables Germans to have a highly efficient healthcare system and other resourceful services. I think that’s great. The people seem a little cool and reserved at the beginning but once you make friends, these relationships are solid, and you can rely on your friends.
How is the relationship with the residents of the care center? Do you get along with them all?
The relationship with the residents of our facility is very good. We often get talking and they will ask if I’m from Thailand or Japan. Right from the start, they were surprised how good my German was. They can’t believe how well I speak it. I’m very proud of that and I’m very grateful to Care With Care for the great training before I came.
So, can you say the decision to come to Germany was the right one?
Definitely. It was 100 percent the right decision! I’m very satisfied with my job and overall, I’m very happy. I can provide financial support to my family and I still have more disposable income than before I came. I was able to take a trip to Rome, for example, which I really enjoyed. I have had a lot of new experiences, and I’ve developed a lot—both professionally and as a person. I have become more independent now and I can make more decisions for myself. The people where I work are also independent thinkers and are allowed to say what they think. I’ve learned to make my own suggestions, to discuss things, and to stand up for my own decisions. Overall, I’ve become a much more confident person.
What advice would you give to other nurses who want to come to Germany?
The first thing they should do is learn German properly. This is the key to coping with all eventualities and to settling in the country, especially in situations where you need help. If you can speak to people in German, they are glad to help you. It is also important to be aware of the legal differences and to know what the job entails before you decide which country to go to. In my case, for example, before coming to Germany I had worked in the emergency department of a hospital and sometimes had to carry out resuscitations. In this country I wouldn’t be permitted to do that. In Germany there are also great career opportunities. The employer challenges you to take on additional responsibilities. You are encouraged to continue your professional development and participate in training courses such as wound management or pain management. Applicants should definitely consider that as a major advantage.
Would you recommend Care With Care to other candidates?
Absolutely. My experience with Care With Care has been excellent and I received a lot of support. This began when I was in school in the Philippines: with the very effective language training and the inspiring teachers who encouraged me and piqued my curiosity in the world outside my own country. Even today, the employees of Care With Care are available to help with any questions or problems, I can turn to them at any time.
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