It’s my first major travel nursing assignment. I can’t believe I did pursue this branch of nursing. And it is more exciting since I chose to give my hands to the people in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
Before I will dwell on my excitement, expectation and my first two months experience here in Saudi Arabia, let me first refresh you with the description of Travel Nursing. It is a branch of nursing where nurses are hired per contract of those medical institutions that lack manpower, and usually thru a recruitment agency. Unlike in the US where travel nurses have three to six months contract, I have two years just like the other Filipino Nurses working in Middle East countries.
The moment my agency confirmed the date of our departure, I had butterflies on my stomach. I’m happy that finally I’d go and experience a major leap in my professional life. I was excited to see the Arabian terrain and feel the humidity of the said peninsula. I can’t wait to meet new people. The excitement I was feeling has a tinge of sadness tho. I was saddened by the reality of leaving the Philippines’ City of Love. I have to leave my baby (my oldie but goodie Toshiba laptop), my best friend (SMART pocket wifi) and my coffee maker named Alex.
When someone is expecting something from you, you also expect from somebody. As a nurse who’s eager to excel, I look forward to print my knowledge, skills, and attitude in health care system of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. I hope to serve patients or clients of different races and see how well I’d give care and communicate with them since Arabic is the language. I only knew Arabic greetings! OMG. With this, I’d look for a day when I’d speak and understand Arabic. I would also like to discover the culture of the Arabian individuals. How they are socially, religiously, and economically.
So much expectations here! Ooops.
Experience ( First Four Months)
I won’t call my first four months in the Kingdom as easy. It’s been overwhelming months for me, physically, socially and mentally. We arrived last August 30, and it was still summer that we hardly adapt to the season. The humidity and temperature were too high for us who came from a tropical country. Even the water from the faucet is too hot that I uttered four foul words after it hit my skin.
Females in the Kingdom aren’t allowed to show so much skin and hair n public. We have to wear a hijab and abaya everytime we go out. Our uniform is a long- sleeved scrub suit adorned with white hijab.
Single, unmarried male and female aren’t allowed to be seen together. Only those who are legally married are allowed. In every place, there’s a place assigned for males and for females. Say when you buy a chicken burger in McDonalds, you can see one lane for male and one for female.
One thing I learned in my first four months as a travel nurse was how deep is the connection of every Muslim to their religion. I admired how they take their prayer time and the words of Allah. They poured their heart in every prayer they took. So much respect for this.
As a social being, I found it difficult to communicate with the patients or clients. I was not able to talk to patients clearly. Most patients didn’t know how to speak or understand English. Arabic is the language here. And because of the multi race workers in the Kingdom, we sometimes have Indian, Pakistani, Yemeni, Sudani, Ethiopian, Syrian and Egyptian clients. Thus, one blunder of travel nursing is language. After a month, I gained knowledge and understanding of the Arabic tongue. I persevered to learn and understand the language by reading and watching video tutorials online. I also asked my colleagues and the doctors to teach me Arabic.
Aside from the physical demands, travel nursing is a mental profession. You have to have your presence of mind every time you move. You can’t execute proper and quality care it is not with you. I found it most important when you’re dealing with ‘critical’ patients or clients. You have to answer them why you have to do that and why they are receiving that kind of management. Patients or clients of the health care world can be very demanding of you. So it is great that I have to hand over my management and communication skills. It is always great to communicate well with a hearty smile to patients or clients, your colleagues, doctors, institution’s staff and workers, medical representatives, and other persons coming in and out of the heath institution.
Being a travel nurse in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is an honor and responsibility. It’s in you how you execute your tasks.
Till my next post. Happy Holidays, everyone!