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Filipino Doctors Who Become U.S. Nurses

January 15, 2004

Re "Physician, Remake Thyself," Jan. 10: There is little that the government of the Philippines can do to dissuade its physicians from becoming nurses in order to immigrate to the United States. As an immigration attorney who has helped many thousands of physicians and nurses immigrate to the U.S. over the last 20 years, I have observed that the severe nursing shortage in the U.S., as well as the economic disparities between the two countries, make this all but inevitable.

Since U.S. hospitals benefit significantly from RNs trained in the Philippines, it's time for our country to invest in the training of Filipino nurses.

Carl Shusterman

Los Angeles

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Dr. Alberto del Pilar says that many of the doctors from the Philippines who come here to work as nurses feel a lot of shame. In my view, they have nothing to be ashamed of. Nurses in general often know more about their patients than hospital doctors do because they spend more time with them. A nurse who is also trained as an MD can be an incredibly valuable asset to an American hospital doctor who sees medicine as a team effort and listens to what these nurses have observed about the patients under their care.

And I share Del Pilar's view that American medicine relies too much on technology alone. American hospitals are, for the most part, cold and frightening places to many patients, especially the elderly, for whom a good back scratch may be about all that medicine can offer.

My ex-husband is currently a resident in a Filipino-owned-and-run board-and-care facility. The staff can't do much about the stroke damage he suffered, but for the last two years it has provided decent custodial care with kindness and at a reasonable price. The Philippines' loss of these health-care workers is clearly America's gain.

Georgiana Coughlan

Gardena

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