Spotlight with Ergie Inocian, RN, MSN

I have heard people say there is a "mystique" about Saudi Arabia. It is difficult to describe, but it draws many Filipino nurses to the oil-rich kingdom. I got a number of colleagues who went to Saudi Arabia so many years ago and they are still there.

To cap this portrayal, we single out a very good example: Ergie Pepito Inocian. He has been working in the kingdom as a licensed nurse specialist for half a decade now. He is presently employed as a perioperative nurse educator at the famous King Khalid University Hospital situated at the metropolitan Riyadh. 

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Ergie earned his BSN degree from Southwestern University in 2007 and his master’s degree from Cebu Normal University in 2009. He did a few coursework on Ph.D. in Research and Evaluation before shifting to Doctorate in Education major in Educational Management. As he is now on the final stretch of his dissertation writing, Ergie will likely graduate on May 2015.

In this conversation, Ergie shares to us his professional work, nursing opportunities and the influence of Filipino nurses in the kingdom's healthcare.

1. Can you share a bit about your work as a nurse educator?
As a nurse educator in a prime university hospital in the kingdom, I work both in classroom and clinical setting, primarily responsible for designing and implementing continuing professional development programs for the nursing staff and consequently, to ensure quality patient care in a transcultural environment. The task seems simple but actually it comes in myriad complex activities. On top of the list is my responsibility to orient the newly recruited nursing staff from different countries to make sure that they know their job descriptions-- during their probationary period through mentorship and preceptorship. This is coupled with conducting clinical competency in the area of specialization (In my case, I am assigned in perioperative nursing). This includes, but not limited to, assisting procedures like minimally invasive techniques, such as da Vinci robotic surgery and single-port laparoscopic incision as well as various orthopedic and cardiac operations, where the challenge is on mastering how to use the latest and advance equipment available in our hospital. Second, I provide clinical supervision and guidance to the Saudi nursing students during their one-year internship. This task involves providing them with classroom discussion and demonstration to enrich the students' knowledge and skills on certain topics. 
I also play a key role in assuring quality activities in each of the nursing units through research and evidence-based practices, in addition to conducting daily rounds and monitoring staff performance and compliance to hospital policy and procedures. Likewise, I participate in lecture sessions, seminars and conference meetings which are often part of my routine work. To some extent, I feel that I have to know and take part in most of these activities. At times, it can be exhausting. So, I just have to get off my feet and allow myself to breathe in between. What makes it fulfilling is that I am empowered to innovate in whatever endeavor I have to undertake at work and showcase new ideas. Thanks to my department manager! 2. What are the opportunities for Filipino nurse educators who would like to work in the kingdom?
The health care industry in the Kingdom is in its fastest-growing pace for a few years now. The career outlook is very much strong for those interested in teaching, given the shortage of nurse educators and increasing demand of local health professionals. All over the kingdom, there are major hospitals and universities which recruit qualified Filipino nurses in various positions including nurse educators and college instructors. To those who have intentions of coming, if you have doctorate degree I would suggest you search for vacancy in the university as assistant professor (a common pathway). Two years back, I was able to recommend several friends and colleagues to work in the Colleges of Nursing across the country. I even posted few openings in our nursing webpages. Nurse educator in the hospital requires at least master’s degree in nursing and 3-5 years of clinical and teaching experience. In my unit, majority are Filipino nurse educators allocated in specific nursing specialty. This only means that the qualification and background training of Filipino nurse educators match with what are required of the job. Our hospital is continuously hiring due to a planned expansion and the soon-to-open separate cardiac center building. 

Though it varies from institution to institution, the benefits and remunerations are surely beyond your expectations. So don’t be afraid to think outside the box in exploring opportunities. 3. As a whole, do Filipino nurses in Saudi have a collective voice to influence the healthcare policy?
In the context of absolute monarchy where the royal family dominates the political system and therefore, they wield strong influence in the healthcare policy. In my opinion, we have “limited to no power” to influence healthcare policy at a national level in the Kingdom. Forming organizations that would lobby issues directly to the Saudi government is restricted especially if these are initiated by expatriates. I am aware however that there are chapters of Philippine Nurses Association (PNA) in the kingdom which tackle on certain nursing aspects and channel it through the main association or to the Philippine embassy. In a larger perspective, the Ministry of Health (MOH) mandates all policy in the health sector. Although, at different levels of care you would find a Filipino nurse being a part of the system and involved in one way or another in different plan of actions. There are also autonomous governmental health institutions like my university hospital. In several cases, many Filipinos are holding higher positions participating in the decision-making sphere. At organizational level, several initiatives of Filipino nurses are actually undertaken to reform institutional health policy and to bring about change. 
The health care system of the kingdom is very much commendable with numerous state-of-art facilities and stable health policy. In fact, this sector receives one of the biggest portions of the national budget. People are getting free medical services and are prioritized in the delivery of care. Many project proposals and research with visible outputs are directly sponsored by the government because they help improve the healthcare system. Interestingly, I have a chance of participating in submitting a funding application to implement a cancer rehabilitation program nationwide.