45 Minutes with Ediscyll Opulencia - Lorusso, An Emerging Nurse Leader

By Jerome Babate

This Filipino nurse in United Kingdom is just a simple story about embracing authentic caring values. This statement echoes well on our Ambassador  Enrique A. Manalo's expression when he said, “The positive contribution of Filipino nurses and health care workers in the United Kingdom is highly appreciated by the British Government. Their care and compassion are sought after by patients. Our nurses are truly ambassadors of goodwill of the Philippines”. One nurse proves this right. 

Ediscyll Opulencia - Lorusso received her Bachelor of Nursing degree year 1997 at the tender age of 19 from the University of Perpetual Help (formerly known as Perpetual Help College System). Leadership runs deep in her views. She was the President of the Student Body Organization for Nursing, Midwifery and Nursing Assistant for school year 1996-1997 and consequently received Leadership award. Shortly after graduation she started working as an intensive care unit nurse at CMC hospital in Laguna.

In 2000, after 3 years of gaining clinical experience in Philippines, Ediscyll moved to London to work. For 16 years now, she continuously working at St. George’s University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust. For 9 years, she worked as a Senior Staff Nurse in Coronary Care Unit. Currently, she is working as Thromboprophylaxis Clinical Nurse Specialist. 

Last March 2015, Ediscyll received an accolade called “Living Our Values” award presented by the Trust’s Chief Executive, for her outstanding work as a nurse specialist. 

Ediscyll Opulencia - Lorusso
On April 2015, there was an article published online by the hospital about Ediscyll’s award on demonstrating the hospital’s Healthcare values. The following month, May 2015, she was a nominee for the International Nurses’ Day. 

On December 2015, Ediscyll and her midwife colleague presented a poster entitled “ Low Molecular Weight Heparin prophylaxis adherence in Postnatal women” as part of the trust’s clinical audit half day winning the People’s Choice Poster award. The poster has been accepted for presentation this year in different countries notably; Sweden, Turkey, Australia, USA, Canada and Italy. 

Last month, March 2016 Ediscyll and her midwife colleague were invited to speak for National Nursing and Midwifery Network held in the Department of Health to showcase their innovation -- widely considered first in the UK and one of a kind joint specialist nurse and midwife clinic where pregnant women at high or intermediate risk are seen and reviewed.

With all these positive things that are happening for Ediscyll, we asked very important things:

1. We have seen a resurgence of recruitment of Filipino nurses in the UK recently. As someone who comes from the first generation of Filipino nurses who migrated to UK, what words of advice would you give them?

Many nurses and nursing students have a desire to work overseas where they feel compensated for their hard work and where the salary is more adequate to provide a higher standard of living. I am among the first wave of Filipino nurses who migrated in UK at the age of 21. I can’t help not to reminisce how I struggled being alone away from my parents in this diverse country. At that time, there were very few Filipinos around and you feel overwhelmed when you see your fellow citizens in the high street. Now there are more Filipino communities and the sudden upsurge of Filipino nurses working in the UK makes you feel more at home.

One of the challenges was the trouble of deciphering the varied UK accents. The accents of particular from England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland are each different. I had to watch a lot of English TV and films to get used to it. Another challenge was adjusting to the weather. The UK weather can be wet and gloomy even on summer time and sometimes you can experience four seasons in a day. 

My advice to newly qualified nurses seeking opportunities in UK is firstly to be open minded. 

Currently, there are changes happening in the National Health System (NHS) workforce and employment. The staffing crisis is one of the biggest challenges at the moment and it is one of the priorities in the nursing and care strategy. There is also advancement of technology and changing healthcare needs, hence our nursing roles changed dramatically since I started working in London. 

We are also now seeing more patients with more complex conditions than ever before.

Secondly, never hesitate to ask questions. One of our Filipino cultural traits is bashfulness. When you are a new nurse in a new country with a new environment, it’s advisable to ask and learn rather than to not ask and potentially cause a harm. Until now I still ask question to my colleagues, either to learn something new or to question something I am unsure of.  

Finally, strive for excellence, show positive assertiveness and take your everyday experience as a countless opportunities to learn from diverse group of people surrounding you. 

2. What were the impressions of the general public towards Filipino nurses who are working in the UK?

In general, the Filipinos are renowned all over the world for exceptional nature that brings pride to our country. Filipino nurses where I work are still endorsed as hardworking, knowledgeable, hospitable, caring, committed and passionate. 

The NHS is still hiring Filipino nurses to plug staff shortages in the UK. However, they still try to hire nurses from other European countries first as part of the conditions set by the EU. Countries such as Spain, Italy and Poland are good sources of nurses albeit they have difficulty speaking and understanding English unlike Filipinos. 

I am a strong advocate of Filipino values (wherever they are in the world). Always work hard and showcase your Filipino ways of caring and dealing with patients and relatives. The pressure of nursing will never be easy, it can be physically and emotionally draining however always remember that it gives you an opportunity to make a difference to someone’s life.