Filipino American Nurses

By: Brian Malibiran


This research paper will explore the issues of Filipino American nurses in the Bay Area. Specifically, it will explore why Filipino American students are nurses and how it affects the Bay Area, since a lot of Filipino Americans reside there. Filipino American students who want to be a nurse are finding it hard to get into nursing programs due to limited seats and large pool of students. Filipino Americans students are pressured by their parents to become a nurse to be wealthy, however, it affects their own education, the schools they go to, and their community. The history of Filipino nursing in America stems from 1948 when the United States needed nurses and they let Filipinos come to America to be a nurse through the Exchange Visitors Program. Those Filipino nurses were making five to ten times more in earnings in America compared than they would have in the Philippines. Filipino Americans are pushed into nursing because of their parents. First, I want to talk about the start of nursing in the Philippines. Second, I will discuss the history of Filipino nurses in the United States and how they got to the United States. Third, I will discuss how Filipino nursing organizations have helped Filipino nurses stay in the United States as they were facing deportation due to the differences in nursing curriculum. Fourth, I will show how parent‘s influence has an effect on education and how it affects Filipino Americans. Fifth, I will discuss how nursing is hard for students as there are too many requirements, and too many students who want to be a nurse. Sixth, I will talk about the nursing shortage in the United States. Last, I will show how too many Filipino American nurses affect the Bay Area in the hospitals.

Literature Review
Nursing in the Philippines

Catherine Ceniza Choy stated that nursing came to the Philippines as part of a colonial and medical agenda that the United States had (2003, 20). Choy stated that the “construction of Filipino bodies as weak and diseased and therefore racially inferior” to the United States as they were seen as “vigorous, healthy, and therefore racially superior” (2003, 21). Choy noted that the justification of American colonial medical intervention was needed. She then goes on to add that in 1907, the United States government created a nursing school. The establishment of the nursing school would provide a framework in that it would help the Filipinos learn how to help themselves in order to create a better future. She argued that in order for the Philippines to learn about nursing, the United States needed some of its own nurses to go to the Philippines to help teach them, but it was a struggle to go attract them to go to the Philippines. Choy discussed that the opportunities for Filipino women to go abroad had inspired more of the younger Filipino women to take up nursing and to have the dream of working in America. Choy citing W.W. Marquadt notes that “there were ‘over one thousand applications from intermediate girl graduates who desire to become nurses’ with only fifty positions available at Philippine General Hospital” (2003, 38).

Choy stated that the training for Filipino nursing students began in 1907 with their first year at the Philippine Normal School. She then added that the young women from respectable families were recruited by the nursing schools in the Philippines and that some of these students went far from their families to go do so. She noted that the nursing students in the United States were making around “$8 to $12 a month” while the Filipino nursing students were doing the exact same things but their compensation was minimal (2003, 46). With times changing, Choy described that the Philippine nursing schools made educational changes to pattern the American professional nursing. She then included that the United States nursing continued to be a dominant force in the Philippines through the 1930s.

The development of the nursing program in the Philippines by the help of the United States had given the Philippines and its people an opportunity to help themselves medically and professionally. The nursing program gave the Filipino women a chance to be able to have a dream, in which they can go to the United States and work there as a nurse. This would in turn help out the United States later on with its issue of nursing shortages as they had prepared the Filipino nurses correctly.

History of Filipino nurses in the United States

Choy states that “The mass migration of Filipino exchange nurses to the United States was an unintended, though historically significant, outcome of U.S. cold war agendas and post World War II labor shortages. In 1948, the American government through the U.S. Information and Education Act established the EVP” (2003, 64). The EVP stands for the Exchange Visitors Program and it allowed the dreams of going abroad for many Filipino nurses to come true. Choy also added that once the Filipino nurses and their government became involved, they dominated in the program. Choy citing Purita Asperilla notes that “by the late 1960s, ’80 percent of exchange participants in the United States were from the Philippines’ with nurses comprising the majority of Filipino exchange visitors” (2003, 65). According to Mireille Kingma “In 1970 more Filipino nurses were registered in the United States and Canada than in the Philippines” (2006, 11). According to Ronald Takaki “Indeed, most prominent among the professional immigrants have been nurses and doctors, who seem to be ubiquitous in the medical services in the United States” (1989, 434). Choy added that the participation of Filipino nurses was also due to the poor working conditions of the Philippines compared to the prestige and transformative potential in the United States. In addition to the poor working conditions, Filipino nurses suffered from low wages and little respect to their jobs. Choy noted that Filipino nurses earned “approximately 200 to 300 pesos monthly” whereas in the United States, the nurses earned “approximately $400 to $500 per month” (2003, 68-69). This was a push factor for the Filipinos as a way to earn more money in another country compared to their own home country. Kingma states that the salary scales of the United States staff nurses are the highest in the world (2006, 13).

The Filipino nurses benefited from the Exchange Visitors Program and enjoyed their time in the United States. Choy citing Ofelia Boado notes that “reminisced fondly about her exchange visit…’I liked it very, very much…The work was rewarding, very rewarding'” (2003, 69). Yen Le Espiritu argued that the Filipino nurses who went through with the Exchange Visitors Program were considered as “cultural ambassadors in the United States” (2003, 33). With the success that the Filipino nurses had and the salary that they were making, they were living the life of an American. Choy noted that with the amount of money that they were making, it enabled the Filipino nurses to purchase stereos, kitchen appliances and other materials that the Philippines were not able to receive. Kingma argues that the “economic migrant‖ is the largest category of the international migrant, in which the important motivation for this is financial” (2006, 15). Kingma describes the push factor as “conditions or circumstances that encourage nurse to leave their country or location of work (2006, 19). Both Choy and Kingma argue that the push factor would be the low salary that the Filipino nurse receives and that the pull factor is the country, like the United States, where salaries are higher. Kingma and Espiritu (2008) gives stats stating that between 1965 and 1985, some twenty five thousand Filipino nurses emigrated to the United States. Espirtu also gives stats on how many Filipinos were sent to America, stating that “Since the 1960s, the Philippines has sent the largest number of professional immigrants to the United States, the majority of whom are physicians, nurses, and other health practitioner”‖ (2003, 32). Veltisezar Bautista also agrees with these statements, noting that “In the 1970s, the Philippines became the number one Asian country to send new immigrants to the U.S.” (2002, 114).

The idea of coming to America as a nurse and making money seemed simple for the Filipinos, but yet it proved to be harder than originally expected. Choy argues that it was easy to obtain an exchange visitor sponsorship from the American Nurses Association but when the Filipino nurses came to the United States, hospital exploitation was a nightmare for them. Some administrators provided little assistance to the Filipino nurses leaving them to fend for themselves in a new country. Choy offers another issue with the exploitation in that they were not being fully paid correctly as some nurses were only being paid two thirds of what they were worth. Choy later states that the ability of the Filipino exchange nurses program to transform them economically continued to attract future generations of nurse graduates to work abroad.

The dreams of these Filipino nurses were coming true and that they wanted to stay in the United States permanently.
Choy then noted that the 1965 Immigration Act‘s new occupational preferences allowed the Filipino nurses to enter the United States and become permanent residents. Choy then gives stats on Filipino nurses, “Between 1965 and 1978, 7,495 Filipino exchange visitors adjusted their status to become U.S. permanent residents” (2003, 99). Choy argued that the reason for the Filipino nurses to stay in America is because they were dissatisfied with the low salary, poor working conditions and benefits in the Philippines. She stated that some of the nurses stayed past their visa so that they could still continue to work in the United States and make money.

All of this show that the history of Filipino nurses went back a long time and that the main reasons for the Filipinos to come to the United States was to make money. Since they were not being treated as well as they would have hoped in the Philippines, it made going to the United States a much easier decision with about half of the nurses becoming permanent residents. The numbers show staggering amounts of how many nurses were sent to the United States back in 1968 to 1975 as a form of labor.

Filipino nurse organizations

The Filipino nurses have made their impact in American history, but with the difference of teaching methods in the Philippines, some nurses faced the dim reality of being sent back to the Philippines. Choy states that the problem was with the changes in the United States licensure of foreign-trained nurses. She stated that the “increasing cultural diversity, as well as numbers, of foreign nurses made individual evaluations more burdensome and problematic” (2003, 169). She gives stats on the SBTPE, State Board Test Pool Examination, in which the foreign-trained nurses who took it failed was at seventy seven percent. The result of not passing the test meant that some of the Filipino nurses were ordered to leave and head back to their home country. The Philippine Nurse Association in the United States made many local chapters in different states in order to help with the Filipino nurses to stay in the United States. Choy describes another organization called the Foreign Nurse Defense Fund was made in which it defended the rights of foreign nurses in the United States. With all of this, the California State Board of Registered Nursing broke away from the national nursing establishment and made their own exam, and Choy describes in 1982 that they made a new exam called NCLEX, National Counsel Licensing Exam.

These Filipino nurse organizations were useful and helpful in making sure that the Filipino nurses stayed in the United States. Without these organizations, some of the nurses would have been sent back to the Philippines because of the lack of correct learning. This was important because without these organizations the migration of nurses might have stopped and the future of Filipino nurses in the United States might have been gone.

Parental Influence on Education

With the establishment of Filipino nurses in America through the Exchange Visitors Program and the Immigration Act of 1965, the Filipino American students today are being asked by their parents what they want to do in life, and some parents influence what they study in college. Diane Wolf argues that Filipino American students have their education influenced by their parents (1997, 463). The Filipino parents put on a lot of pressure to do well in school. She states that “this pressure was attributed to parents being immigrants, their desire to succeed, and their desire for their children to achieve at least their same middle to upper middle class status” (1997, 463). The need for Filipino Americans to control their own children‘s education and influence them is the fear that they do not want them to end up in poverty or in a bad situation. Wolf states that:

At UC Davis, most of the undergraduates we interviewed were involved in majors that would lead to a job or to a graduate degree in a field chosen by their parents. Parental expectations were central and there did not appear to be any rebellion or rejection of parental desires for fear of confronting and disappointing them, and for fear of sanctions. The males were majoring in the sciences, comput-ing or engineering, with the females majoring in the biological sciences, computer science, or human development/sociology, and one in American Studies. Those in the sociology/human development fields expressed an interest in social services, public health, nursing, teaching, or law. (1997,464).

Wolf then states that it is a “double edge” when accepting parent‘s decisions on what to major in and a career path because the parent provides a direction of future and security but the child might not accept that career path for lack of interest or difficulty of becoming that profession (1997, 464). The parents are the ones who want to control their children‘s lives and make all the decisions for them as they just want to make sure they become like them and become a middle class citizen. Patricia Pasick agrees with the parents to this stating that she believes that parents should guide their children when they go to college (1998, 6). Pasick citing a mother notes that ‘I‘m not going to spend a lot of money just so my son can have a good time and meet new people’ (1998, 41). She also states that “it‘s disconcerting to parents to see their children wait tables or work in video stores the first year of college”  (1998, 45). Caridad Vallangca agrees with this stating, “Education has always been immensely important to Filipinos” (1987, 138).

The issue with this is that it forces the children to do something that they do not want to do or cannot do. The pressure that is put on the Filipino American children are enormous because of their parents and the dreams and hopes that they have for their children. The parents think that they are trying to do what is best and what is the right decision for their children, but they are trying to control too much for them. Even with college, the parents feel as if they should make sure that they go to a good school in which they can get a career after they graduate. They are the ones who are spending the money, so they feel they have the right to decide where their child goes. It seems as if the only thing that the parents want are good grades and a good education for a good job, but they lose sight on what their own children want, what they want to do with their lives, and their own well being.

Nursing is hard for students

For students aspiring to be a nurse, it takes a lot of hard work, perseverance, determination and time as nursing is not easy for students. One of the issues with trying to be a nurse is to actually get into any nursing program, especially in the Bay Area. Michelle Hatfield talks about a bill, Assembly Bill 1559, that was signed by the governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger, in which the community colleges are supposed to use merit instead of lottery to admit students into the nursing program (2007). The issue with using a lottery is that the students that get in might not all be qualified to do well and succeed in the program and that using merit as a criteria would help the programs choose the best candidates. Hatfield states that “about 40 percent of the state‘s nursing students are turned away because of limited space” (2007). She shows that one problem with trying to be a nurse is that it is very hard to get into any nursing program in the Bay Area. Edward Kashian agrees with this that limited space is an issue as Fresno State holds a lottery for only fifty five students (2009). Christine Frey also states that the Bellevue program used a lottery to choose the students (2007). Frey citing Ingrid Anderson “to improve her chances, she ‘retook two courses in which she earned B‘s ” this time earning A‘s’ she got in the second time she applied” (2007). According to Genevieve Chandler, she states that ―prenursing students have to become serious students their very first semester to maintain the required grade point average to be admitted into the nursing program (2008, 31).

Nursing is hard for students because once they are finally into a program, the material is complicated and that sometimes the problems lie within the program and the instructors. According to Chandler, she argues that classes require a sophisticated amount of understanding of difficult subjects which require an intense amount of memorization for the frequent quizzes and exams (2008, 30). She then adds that “nursing students must know how the lungs function to know how to care for a patient with pneumonia” (2008, 30). According to Kathleen Richards, Oakland‘s Merritt College dropout rate is higher than the state average and she points to the disorganization of the program and the instructors (2008). Richards citing Jyotsana Francis “one of several students who dropped out of the program because she was failing ‘the exams aren‘t congruent with the lectures…all they do is point figures and say to study harder'” (2008). Richards adds that the college does not offer adequate resources for the students to succeed.

Another issue with nursing being hard is that it puts a lot of pressure on the students to do well and when some fail, they commit suicide. CS Goetz states in his article that nursing is so stressful and complicated that students are considering suicide (1998). He states that the “suicide rate for this population has tripled over the past 25 years” (1998). Even in the Philippines, suicide is another issue with nursing students. Jenel Baclay stated that a nursing graduate who failed the board exam committed suicide (2010). She added that 90,000 students took the license exam and only 37,679 passed. Nancy Carvajal also stated that another student in the Philippines committed suicide because he was forced to stop his studies to be a nurse in order to help his ailing mother (2009).

Once the students finish their courses, they have to take the National Counsel Licensing Exam which is known as the NCLEX, a very hard exam for students which makes them very nervous. Judith Burckhardt and Barbara Irwin state that the NCLEX are administered by the boards of nursing which mandate to protect the public from unsafe and ineffective nursing care (2010, 3). They give ways on how to study for the NCLEX exam and tell students how to prepare for the exam. They state that ineffective ways are the biggest mistakes that people make which are; relying on false hopes, lacking respect for the exam, cramming, and poor planning (2010, 99).

Nursing students have a hard time trying to get into any program and actually pass because it is competitive and the schools do not do a good job preparing the students. Pre-nursing students have to work so hard to make sure that they keep a good GPA to at least get into the program. The lack of good instructing makes it harder for the students to get good grades, stay in the program, and pass the NCLEX exam and if they fail, they turn to suicide as a result.

Nursing Shortage

The nursing shortage in the country appears to grow each year even though it seems as if there are lots of nursing students who try to get into the program. According to Jennifer Simes the nursing profession, the largest health care in the US is experiencing a severe shortage which will continue in the future (2007). Faye Satterly agrees with this adding that it will grow to critical proportions in the coming decade if efforts to recruit new nurses are not started and accomplished (2004, 37). She noted that in 2001, 89 percent of hospitals reported a shortage of registered nurses (2004, 109). She added, to keep skilled nurses and use their satisfaction as a recruitment tool, the leaders must create work environments that are meaningful to their employees.

The added affects of the nursing shortage have brought nurses from other countries to the United States to help fill the shortage. According to Sara Llana, Filipino doctors in the Philippines are going back to school to become a nurse so that they could go to America and work (2006). Llana states that there are companies that help foreign applicants to institutions that need nurses and the majority are Filipinos. However, Llana does give the opposing side that even though bringing in nurses from foreign countries helps the United States shortage of nurses; it does create a negative effect on the country that they are leaving behind. Rene Ciria-Cruz agrees with that statement arguing that there should be more health care training in the United States rather than importing nurses (2010). Kingma states that “In the 1970s already, there were more Filipino nurses registered in the United States and Canada than in the Philippines” (2006, 173).

Since Llana‘s work was written, new information have shown that Filipino nurses are going elsewhere rather than the United States as it takes too long to get into America. Ciria-Cruz states that Filipino nurses who want to work in the United States have to wait five to seven years for H1-B working visas and two to three years for EB-3 immigrant visas before they come (2010). She then adds that this pushes the Filipino nurses to go elsewhere and the United Kingdom is now the place to go because they have a work study program which is easier to get into. According to an anonymous author of Asian Journal, who sides with Ciria-Cruz, the number of Filipino nurses seeking to practice their profession in America fell by one third in the first semester (2010).

The shortage of nurses in the United States has been going on for decades and the migration of nurses was supposed to help fill that gap. However, it leaves the countries which the nurses left an issue as they face their own shortage of nurses since they keep sending them all over the world. The problem now is that the leading country that sends nurses to the United States, the Philippines, those nurses are going elsewhere because it is easier to get into rather than wait for so long to get into the United States. This now makes the shortage even harder to fill if nurses cannot come to the United States.

Discrimination against Filipino nurses

With the amount of Filipino nurses in America, especially in the Bay Area, there have been issues of racism within the hospitals. According to Emil Guillermo and Bobby Calvan, the St. Luke‘s Campus of Sutter Health‘s California Pacific Medical Center in San Francisco appears to not hire any Filipino nurses (2010). Thus, the union is now going to investigate the hospital to see if there is any truth to this. Calvan citing Zenei Cortez “union co-president said ‘there can be no excuse for racial or ethnic discrimination. A hospital should be a center of therapeutic healing for patients’ as the union said that three employees alleged blatant discrimination” (2010). Guillermo stated that the director of critical care Chris Hanks was told ‘you are not to hire any Filipino nurses’ and was also told at the meetings that ‘the Filipinos are always related or know each other, and that‘s not good. You‘re not to hire them’ (2010). According to Henni Espinosa, Filipino Ron Villanueva was up for promotion when he said he heard the Vice President for nursing say that she should stop hiring foreign graduates (2010).

Since this incident, a new incident happened in Delano California. According to Yong Chavez, a group of Filipino nurses are suing for discrimination because they are not allowed to speak Tagalog or any other Filipino dialect (2010). Chavez citing Wilma Lamug notes that “who is in a plaintiff in the lawsuit added ‘The president said whoever was caught speaking Filipino language will be suspended or terminated” (2010). Chavez adds that the hospital has patients who are Tagalog speakers.

Another issue with Filipino nurses in other countries is that they are being exploited by the countries in which they go to. According to the Independent in London, the Filipino nurses were being exploited as a cheap source of labor in which they were not given the same living conditions and wages as the other nurses were (2001). Mr. Prentis who was interviewed by the Independent called it ‘a disgraceful way to treat high skilled and fully qualified nurses’ (2001). There have also been other reported issues up and down the country in London in which they had to rescue the Filipino nurses from the private nursing homes.

All of these materials written about Filipino nursing, what it is like and the hardships that come along with it fail to address the issues of what about the Filipino students of today‘s generation as they are pushed into nursing because of their parents. These articles fail to show how hard it is for them to become a nurse, and why their parents decide this for them. The ideal situation of Filipino nurses making a lot of money are what drives the parents to ask, insist, and push their children into nursing without looking at how hard it is, and the problems that can come with having their kids as being a nurse.

Research Questions

My survey that I handed out consisted of ten questions which were: age, gender, ethnicity, have your parents ever asked you to be a nurse or consider nursing, are you planning to do nursing, are there any nurses in your family, do you feel pressure to do well in school, do you feel as if your parents influence your education, have your parents asked you to specifically consider a major that they chose for you, and what do you want to be when you grow up?

Each interview had fifteen questions. First was how old are you? Second was what do you know about the history of Filipino nurses or nursing in the Philippines? Third, do you feel pressure to do well in school? Fourth, did your parent‘s ask you to do nursing? If not, why are you doing nursing? Fifth, do you feel as if you were pushed into nursing by your parents? Sixth, did they tell you why to do nursing, or the reasons for saying nursing? Seventh, did they say any other profession to be besides nursing? Eighth, are there any nurses in your family, and if so how many? Ninth, why are you not doing nursing? Tenth, do you think nursing is hard to do, or process of being a nurse, and could you elaborate on experience? (i.e. getting into classes, applying to the nursing program…etc) Eleventh, did you think about going to other schools to get into a nursing program and was it because it was cheaper, or easier to get into? Twelfth, what are you doing now? Thirteenth, how have your parents reacted to saying yes or no to nursing? Fourteenth, what do you think the job opportunities and salaries are for nurses in the bay area? Fifteenth, would you tell the future generation about nursing, because we are Filipino or does it end with us?


Participants consisted of Filipino Americans, who all live in the Bay Area, ranging from the ages of fifteen to twenty seven. For the survey, forty three people participated in the survey as seventeen were male, and twenty six were female. For the interviews, thirteen people participated as three were male, and ten were female. Most of the participants are second generation Filipino Americans.


The procedures to get my data were surveys and interviews. I made my own surveys and I made about twenty five to start off with to hand out. I asked the choir that I am a part of, to take the surveys, and I asked the ones that were under the age of eighteen to ask their parents first. After that, qualified participants were called and asked to be part of the survey and the ones that responded were emailed the questions. Most of the questions were either yes or no so that the participants could finish it in a short amount of time. For the interviews, two participants were willing to meet and do a face to face interview; one was at Starbucks, while the other was at Chili‘s. One participant was unable to meet up, so she did a phone interview. The other eleven interviews were done through email as they were sent the questions and they typed out their responses, saved the file, and emailed it back. One variable that had changed with the survey was the question of gender because it was accidently left out. For the interviews, some of the questions were changed in order to get more specific details in their experience with nursing as some of the participants have completed nursing.

Research Findings

See Appendix Figure 2. This figure shows the lottery results for the Licensed Vocational Nursing program at City College for Fall of 2009. There were one hundred and four people who got accepted into the program, and the other nine hundred and sixty one were put on the standby list. Basically, each applicant had a 9.8% to get into the program.


The findings of the surveys are as follows:


This table shows the findings of the survey as they were separated by each question. Of the amount of people surveyed, seventeen respondents were male and Filipino while the other twenty six were female and Filipino. Forty of the forty three people surveyed reported that their parents asked them to do nursing while three said that their parents did not ask. See appendix Figure 1. Of those three, two of them were planning to do nursing in the first place, a probable reason why the parents did not ask. Of the forty three that were asked to do nursing, eight are planning to do or already doing nurse while the other thirty five are not doing nursing. Thirty nine respondents said that they feel pressure to do well in school while four did not. Eight respondents said no to the question if parents influence the education while the other thirty five did feel that parents influence their education. Thirty one respondents reported that their parents asked them to consider a major that their parents specifically chose while twelve respondent‘s parents did not.

Four of the forty three respondents said that they do not have any nurses in their family while the other thirty nine said that there are nurses in the family. Nineteen respondents said they have one to three nurses in the family while the other twenty have four or more nurses in their family. The age range of the respondents was under eighteen to twenty five with the majority of the ages being eighteen, twenty and twenty three.


Only three of the respondents who took the survey were also interviewed. There were thirteen participants who were interviewed about Filipino Americans who are pushed into nursing because of their parents. Of the thirteen respondents of the interviews, none of them knew a lot about the history of Filipino nurses or nursing in the Philippines. All of the interviewees said that they feel pressure to do well in school because of their parents. Five of the participants wanted to do nursing without their parents influence.

According to Allyson Caravaca, her parents forced her to enroll at San Francisco State as a pre-nursing major. She added that her mom is a nurse and her mom told her that nursing is where the money is at and that it is a stable job. She did not get into any of the nursing programs she applied to because she knew that she had a slim chance of getting in. She is not doing nursing anymore because it is not her passion and that it was her mother‘s passion and when Allyson told her mom, she took it pretty hard. They had arguments about it but her mother accepted her dreams to be a pharmacist. However, her dad still reinforces the idea of doing nursing when her future is discussed. Allyson is now pursing pharmacy because she loves everything about the pharmaceutical industry.

Airika Rodrigo was also pushed into nursing by her parents. She felt as if her parents wasted money by taking the pre-nursing classes as she knew that nursing was not for her because she did not like blood and she was not doing well in the pre-nursing classes. Her parents told her to do nursing because it was all about the money and that anything in health care would make money. When she told her parents that she was not doing nursing, they responded by saying that they will look for other health care jobs that can fit her skills. Airika now has a fulltime job at a pediatric department as a medical office clerk.

Jan Garcia is another interviewee who was pushed into nursing because of her parents. Jan stated that her parents said that nursing would pay well. She added that she is not doing nursing anymore because it is too competitive and that there are too many qualifications to enroll for the nursing program like GPA, volunteer experience, and classes. Her parents were annoyed when she told them she was not doing nursing anymore. She believes that the average salary for nurses in the Bay Area is from $70,000 to $100,000 dollars yearly. Jan is now pursuing a Bachelors of Science in microbiology.

Katrina Aure says that she was also pushed into nursing by her mom. She told her mom that she would try it out and see where it would take her. Her mom was doing nursing until she had her and her mom had to stop. Katrina thinks that this is why her mom asked her to do nursing, because it was her mom‘s dream and that she wanted to see her dream come through in her daughter. Katrina is now doing business because nursing is not for her. However, her mom still keeps insisting on doing nursing to this day. Her mom tells her about nursing programs in the Bay Area that she can finish in a year or two.

Charlene Siquian also said that her mom pushed her into nursing as well. She stated that they implanted the idea in her head and that it was because of the money and stability that came with nursing. Charlene applied to other programs in the Bay Area and even ones in Hawaii as she knew that it was too difficult to get into the San Francisco State nursing program. When she told her parents that she was not doing nursing anymore because it was too hard, they were ok with it. She is now getting her Bachelors of Science in Psychology instead of nursing, but she is on the waiting list for the nursing programs in Napa and Solano.

According to Elena Noceda, her parents invested in her to do nursing ever since she was born. She added that they never asked her for anything, but that they indirectly forced her to do nursing. She stated that her parents tell her that they do not have any money saved for retirement and that all the money they make is for her to get into the best school for nursing. Her parents said nursing was reliable, has good benefits, and is in demand. Elena states that her dad does not know how competitive nursing is today and the added pressure does not help her as her self esteem goes down. Even trying to do a vocational school for nursing is not good enough for her dad since he wants her to go to the best college for nursing. She is not doing nursing anymore as she cannot do chemistry and she is now taking classes at a community college to transfer to a state or university school.

Sheena Condez states that she was not pushed into nursing, but it was recommended by her parents frequently. When her and her parents were talking about possible careers, nursing was always being brought up in the conversation since her parents told her that nursing pays well. She somewhat feels as if she was pushed into nursing because that was the only career that they brought up, but that she never had to do nursing. Sheena stated that “I took classes I didn‘t even need just to stay full time for my financial aid”. She is not doing nursing anymore because her grades did not qualify to apply to the program as it is too competitive. Sheena is now majoring in Health Education as her parents support her with this decision; however her mom told her to do nursing after she gets her degree because that is what she wanted to do.

According to Calvin Soriano, he has a somewhat similar story. Calvin‘s parents had asked him to do nursing, but it ultimately became his decision to do nursing. His passion was music and he discussed with his parents if he decided to become a singer, but he realized that nursing was the better option. He also looked into kinesiology as a major, but he felt that nursing was a better option. His parents used examples of his aunts becoming nurses and how they have benefited financially from it. His parents told him, “Look at that car, maybe one day you can buy 10 of those when you become an RN”. Calvin left San Francisco State to pursue his Licensed Vocational Nursing, LVN, because classes were too difficult to get into and he felt that he was wasting his time and his parent‘s money. He is now a college student taking the rest of his RN pre-requisites while he is studying for his NCLEX (board exam for licensure) test.

Michelle Flores states that in high school, her mother mentioned nursing as a possible career for her to pursue when she graduates; however she had no interest in that profession. When she was at UC Davis, she was interning at a student run clinic, Bayanihan, she loved nursing people back to health. Her parents have never forced her to do anything and they have supported her decision to be a nurse. Michelle states, “Many people go into nursing for the money and do not last long. People should do nursing to help people”. Michelle is very passionate with her job as she is now a Registered Nurse on the surgical floor.

Christian Patricio was asked to do nursing because of his parents, but he is doing nursing because of his own decision. Like Michelle, he finds it rewarding helping people get better and nursing was the way to do so. Christian applied to the University of San Francisco nursing program right out of high school and he got into the program. He states, “Nursing classes were ridiculously hard because USF holds a higher standard for their students. They weed out the weak and their exit exam makes the NCLEX feel like cake”. He adds that in his nursing class, about ten out of eighty students were Filipino. Christian felt like he wanted to stop all the time because he felt that it was too hard, but he kept on going due to his excellent time management. Christian is now an RN BSN PHN, a registered nurse with bachelors in nursing, and is a nurse at St Mary‘s and San Francisco General Hospital.

Gary Fernandez is a different story as it was his sister who had suggested nursing for him as she graduated from San Francisco State in nursing. His parents did not want him to do theater/drama because they felt that it was not a stable job. He was doing computer science but realized that nursing was a better fit and he fell in love with the pre-requisite classes for nursing. Gary has tried to get into the nursing program at San Francisco State for five years from 2001 to 2006, but failed to get in because of his, GPA, grade point average. He states the nursing program picks “the cream of the crop” of applicants who have the 4.0 GPA. Gary then tried to get into City College of San Francisco, but was rejected because of his GPA. His parents have been fully supportive of his decision to be a nurse. Gary now works full time as he is trying to pass the NCLEX-PN exam.

Jane Valenzuela adds that she wanted to be the first in her family to do nursing and she did not have a huge influence from her parents. However, her parents have said to do something in the medical field since the nursing programs are impacted and that she can be a CNA, certified nursing assistant while she waits to be a nurse. Her parents were glad when she told them she was doing nursing. Jane is not doing nursing anymore because the nursing programs are too impacted and pre-requisite classes are hard to get into. She is now majoring in Health Education, and on her free time, she is still applying to nursing programs.

Jennifer Santos is like Jane, Christian, and Michelle because they wanted to do nursing. Jennifer is the only one who did not have her parents influence her education to become a nurse. Her parents suggested that she become a clinical lab scientist or a medical technician. She wanted to become a doctor when she was a child at first, but chose to do nursing because she did not want to be in school for a long time. After three years of dealing with stress, anger, disappointment, and tears, Jennifer got into City College of San Francisco‘s Registered Nursing Program. Her and parents are happy that she got into the program.


Filipino Americans are pushed into nursing because of their parents. The research that has been done shows that parents do influence their children‘s education and for Filipino Americans, most of them are for nursing. Parents want to make sure their children have a good future with a job that is going to have good job security and the ability to make good money. Nurses, especially in the Bay Area, make a lot of money either as a registered nurses, or licensed vocational nurse. The notion that the United States are in a shortage of nurses and that there is always going to be a need for nurses is one of the good reasons to enter the profession. With the parents asking the children to do nursing, it is a form of pushing as they are trying to influence them. For some Filipino parents, they go past the point and force their children to try nursing resulting in a negative effect. The results of these students pushed into nursing do not allow them to fully realize what they want to do in life as it is chosen for them. The students may not like one of the following: the sciences classes because it is too hard, or dealing with blood, or trying to get into any nursing program because it is so impacted.

The Filipino American students feel that parents influence their decision because the parents want what they think is best for the students. The parents sometimes do not know what is best for their children and thus make the decision for them, making it seem like the children have no clue of what to do. This causes an issue with the relationship in some families as some students try to go their own route with what they want to do in life, but some parents will keep insisting on them what to do. My data shows that most of the students feel pressure to do well in school as this pressure comes from the parents. As Wolf describes, it is the fact that the parents worked so hard to come to the United States that they want their children to have the opportunity to have the best job available, but in order to do that, good grades are going to get them there. I conclude from this that the students surveyed have their parents reiterate to them that low grades are unacceptable in the family and that they need to do well or their parents will not be happy.

I believe that Filipino parents push their children into nursing because they, as parents, want to make sure that they are taken care of in the future. When the parents get older, they are going to need someone to take care of them, and they would not want to go to a nursing home or a retirement place. The parents would want their children to take care of them because they are going to have a lot of money in the future from being a nurse. Along with that, once they believe that their children are going to be a nurse, they will ask them to buy them things like a new Lexus or so because they have the money to do so. The parents are the ones who might never had a chance to own a nice car like a Lexus, so their dreams are relied upon their children to fulfill it.

Another reason why I think the Filipino parents push their children into nursing is that it was an influential phenomenon for them back in the days in the Philippines in which everyone wanted to become a nurse to come to the United States in order to be a citizen. Some of the parents may have had a dream in becoming a nurse in the Philippines, but they were unable to do so because of reasons: coming to the United States, too many students applying to the nursing schools, or they had family commitments. To add on to this, I think that the Filipino parents get the gratification when they tell their other family members that their child is doing nursing as it looks good in the eyes of their relatives. It kind of makes the children be viewed as a trophy, a way for them to show how good parents they are since their children are doing nursing. Charlene Siquian mentioned that at a family party, family members asked her parents what she is taking up in college, the parents replied with nursing and the family members were glad to hear that.

One major problem that occurs for both the parents and children are that when some of the children are forced into nursing, my data shows that it has not panned out for anyone yet. Although there are some people who I interviewed who are a nurse, or in the nursing program, those are the ones who wanted to be a nurse. This creates an irony because the parents push them to do nursing because they think it is the best way for them to go, but in the end, it waste the money for the parents and time for the students. My data shows that the students who are forced into pre-nursing are not doing nursing anymore and thus have changed their majors in other to get their degrees. Most of the people that I interviewed show that they are not doing nursing anymore because they could not handle it as they said that nursing was not for them. They told their parents that they are going to try out nursing and the parents were happy but after a couple of years some of the students said that they cannot do nursing because it is so hard to do so. Some of the students say that it is hard to get into the classes as others said that it was because of trying to get into the nursing program.

What results from this problem is the fact that the students are wasting their time trying to do pre-nursing and taking the pre-requisite classes that they need to apply for the program. Jan Garcia says that she changed majors her fourth year at San Francisco State University so that she can graduate already rather than wasting time waiting to at least have a chance to get into the nursing program. The reason that she waited so long was that she did not want to disappoint her parents and their dreams of her being a nurse. Other interviewees mentioned that even though they changed their majors, their parents are still asking them if they want to do nursing as they talk about private nursing schools that can finish in a year or so.

Another problem that arises with this is that I think the Filipino parents do not know what it is like to do nursing as they just tell their kids to do it. If they experienced what it is like, maybe they would understand how hard it is and they would not push their kids to do nursing. I think that pre-nursing is one of the hardest majors there is as there are too many requirements just to even apply to the program. Some of the students have noted that it is too stressful just to apply to get into the program and that it is too competitive to get in. My data shows that with some of the colleges that offer nursing, like City College of San Francisco, they require a lottery to get in, and they only accept a small number of people that apply when there are hundreds that are trying to get into the program. Then, for the people who do not get in, the rest are put on the waiting list and it might take up to two years just to get into the program. I do not think anyone

would want to wait that long just to do nursing as the economy today is not good.
What results from this problem is that some of the students will go to a private school just to do their Licensed Vocational Nursing, a step lower than a Registered Nurse, as a way to get into the field. But the issue with this is that going to a private school is too expensive as some of the private schools charge about twenty thousand dollars for tuition just for one year of school. For some students, it is the only way to be a nurse, and some parents who are determined for their kids to be a nurse will say yes to this option even though it is going to be expensive.


Filipino Americans are pushed into nursing because of their parents. This causes problems for both the parents and the children as the parents are creating somewhat of a false hope, thinking that their children are going to be a nurse, and the children do not have a say of what they want to do in life. What occurs is that the students are now wasting their time in college when they could be pursuing other majors and degrees rather than wasting time for the prerequisite classes. Even though nurses do make good money and there is a shortage of nurses in the United States making it ―easy‖ to find a job, nursing is not for everyone. The Filipino Americans youth today are not aware of what is going to happen to them in the future, when they are deciding where to go for college as their parents are going to ask them to be a nurse. For the unlucky few, they are going to be really pushed into it as they have no option but to try it and this is going to waste their time.

I want this paper to serve as a guide to the incoming college Filipino freshmen who are doing nursing because of their parents so that they can have a good sense of what they are facing in the future. This should help them realize that they should have other alternatives just in case they do not get into the nursing program, or they realize that they do not want to do nursing because it is not for them. It would also help them so that they do not waste time and money taking random classes just to be a full time student waiting to apply to the program. Also, this paper would show the Filipino parents that there are going to be issues if they push their children to do nursing as they can see the results from the past. It might prevent them from forcing their children to do nursing as they can accept the fact that there might be other jobs out there that can pay well.

If I had more time to work on this paper, I would: survey more Filipino Americans, interview Filipino freshmen in college who are doing pre-nursing and interview parents who forced their children to do nursing. I would want to conduct a five year longitudinal research on this topic with the Filipino freshmen who are doing pre-nursing, and the people that I have already interviewed. I feel as if five years would give me enough time to see where the Filipino freshmen would end up: going to a private school for nursing, changing their majors, or actually getting into the nursing program. For the people that I interviewed, it would give me a chance to see if they have actually done nursing, or if they got a job with the degrees that they have earned. I would also want to obtain a large amount of an unbiased sample of surveys from Filipino Americans students who are doing nursing. The question then becomes, after this generation of youth grow up, are we, as Filipino Americans, going to tell our children to be nurses? Is it because we are Filipino, or is it because we want them to do well in the future?




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Filed under 2010-2011, Research

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