Doctoral dissertation

Dissertation: The paths of Filipino nurses to Finland: Their qualifications are largely underutilized

Hundreds of Filipino nurses have moved to Finland in the past few years. Most of them are working as nursing assistants or practical nurses in spite of having completed a four-year university education in nursing in the Philippines. The research findings reveal that the professional qualifications and competences of Filipino nurses are largely underutilized in Finland.

The dissertation concerns the paths of nurses recruited in the Philippines to work in Finnish social and health care organizations. The recruiting processes are facilitated by private recruiting companies, and initiated and financed by the receiving large private care home companies. In the Philippines, the number of registered nurses wishing to go abroad to work is huge because more nurses are constantly trained  than there are  job opportunities for them in their own country.  Hence even auxiliary work abroad attracts many. Migrant remittances are vital - not just for their family members left behind but also for the national economy of the Philippines.

The research findings show that Finnish social and health care  organizations are typically dominated by modes of action and routines which are deemed  undefined “Finnish”. The overseas-trained professionals are expected to learn and assimilate to these existing practices. Achieving  sound proficiency in Finnish language is considered indispensable in becoming a member of the work community. Although in some cases there was a desire in the organization to support foreign workers in their acquisition of Finnish and in learning practices, the daily routines frequently did not allow time to act in ways known to be good.  

A good command of the local language is admittedly important in social and health care work, but learning the working language should not be left to the newcomers alone. This dissertation proposes a two-way model of sociocultural learning according which language learning, like other sociocultural learning should be seen as a joint task of the whole work community. In order to accomplish this task, more time should be reserved for informal learning in the workplaces.

The findings confirm that national steering of international recruitment processes would make the recruitment more transparent. Furthermore, a clear national top-up training programme for nurses trained in non-EU/ETA countries would reduce overlapping education and the waste of resources.  Although in Finland several types of top-up training have been offered on various projects, these pilot programmes have not led to any lasting results.

The dissertation is available online at http://urn.fi/URN:ISBN:978-952-03-0937-4