ILR International Travel Grant Recipient, Froilan T. Malit Jr, Reports on His Trip to the Philippines

International Experiencing grant brings "brain drain" to light
Thursday, April 1, 2010

To say I needed the ILR Travel Grant would be an understatement. It was the catalyst that fueled my academic research to its eventual success. In January 2010, I had the opportunity to conduct interviews with highly-skilled Filipino nurses and public officials in Metro Manila and Pampanga. Here there was a strong emphasis to examine the implications of the nursing brain drain on the rural health communities in the Philippines. This assessment allowed me to examine the outmigration of the medical professionals from the eyes of several Filipino national policymakers and recruitment agencies. To go back a little further, I returned to the Philippines in August 2009 where I was able to build research and political connections that eventually helped me facilitate my fieldwork and research.

In Pampanga, I traveled each morning to various rural health clinics and government hospitals to interview Filipino nurses. The nurses in these locations worked long hours to provide basic health services in the remote regions of the Philippines. In fact, the rapid out-migration of Filipino nurses prompted many scholars to question the serious impact of nursing brain drain on the public health services in the Philippines. According to Professor Jaime Galvez, MD, MPH, executive director of the National Institute of Health Philippines, “ten mothers are dying per day due to pregnancy and childbirth-related causes. …These factors, however, are not considered by government planners and economic managers.” Professor Galvez also stated that the Philippines has a “brain hemorrhage being the top exporter of nurses” around the world.  With the ILR Travel Grant, I had the opportunity to conduct face to face interviews with many Filipino nurses, which gave me a comprehensive understanding on various push and pull factors that influenced their out-migration decisions. This research was pivotal in answering the central premise of my senior thesis, how do rural communities in the Philippines respond to the global nursing brain drain? At the end of my fieldwork analysis, I realized that economic factors such as limited job opportunities and working conditions perpetuate the out-migration of rural health nurses in the Philippines.

Since I have finished my fieldwork, I believe that the most challenging part of my project is to combine the qualitative and quantitative information. This is going to be a difficult task because I need to ensure that I will able to translate and bring the real voices of Filipino nurses in the current global brain drain debate. I also believe that without my political and personal connections in the Philippines, I would not have been able to gather unpublished public records and interview Filipino nurses within these government hospitals. In light of this experience, I am positive that this winter trip has given me the “reality check” that I need to understand the repercussions of nursing brain drain beyond the current academic literature. Without the fundamental grant, these nurses and the relevant issues of the Philippines would still remain dormant and unutilized in the global brain drain. These people, and myself, cannot be more appreciative for the international grant.