Nurse Spotlight: Insights into working at an elderly care home and at a hospital

Interview with a Philippine Nurse who first worked in a senior care facility for 3 years and then moved to a hospital:


When did you come to Germany and did you have to do an exam to be able to work here?

They fortunately fully recognized all my training, but I had also done some extra training in the Philippines before, so I did not have to do any exams. I arrived in Germany in 2015, the supervising nurse in the senior care facility where I was going to work picked me up and she took me to my new flat and gave me an introduction to the city, the team and such.


What was the most difficult thing to learn/to get used to?

Grundpflege! In a care facility it was exhausting at the beginning! I was not prepared for any of this. It is nothing like our hospital work. Later you begin to see it is very rewarding and it is actually time you get to spend with the patients and it helps them a lot on many layers. Not only on a medical basis, but a very personal one.


Were you unpleasantly surprised by something?

Apart from Grundpflege I had a hard time understanding the local dialect where I worked. It is not only the German language barrier, but also the dialect I found very hard to adapt to and I felt I was not much of use at the beginning. 


How is the team work?

Very much fun, I am enjoying it at the hospital now. The care facility was also nice, but I was too busy with language and learning everything else to be able to concentrate on that.


Did you feel you were properly integrated into the team and the others tried to help you?

Yes, they did, but language was a major issue. But then it gets better once you have a routine.


How was it getting used to German culture?

Easy! I did a lot of reading online at home and did a few language courses where they also teach you a bit about German culture. The culture shock was not very big.


How did you feel in the first few months?

I was fine. Sure, working was hard, but having my own flat and learning new things was also interesting and kept me busy.


How do you feel now a few years later?

I am very satisfied but there is still a lot to do. I am very pleased with my job at the hospital now. I have nice colleagues and assistants who work with us. The team is big and so is the workload.


What advice would you give any nurse that comes to work here now?

Prepare mentally and emotionally. It is a big change. Keep an open mind. I felt Germans can be quite harsh sometimes, but they really don’t mean it in a bad way and you should not take it too hard. They are not being harsh, it is just a cultural thing of getting to the point at once and being very direct, but they are not being rude. That would have been good for me to know at the beginning.


Why did you switch from care facility to hospital after 3 years?

I wanted a bigger team and more specialized pathologies. And I felt I needed a change and more emphasis on medical jobs.


What do you miss most about home?

Food! You do get some ingredients in Asian supermarkets, but there is not much fresh seafood here.


What is something you really appreciate about Germany?

I really like the architecture. Also when I go on holidays, I try visiting places in Germany and was very pleasantly surprised by the beautiful landscapes and small pretty German towns. I will be flying home to the Philippines for a month in January next year to visit my family though.


What advice would you give someone to start their nursing career in Germany?

Start in a Pflegeheim (senior care facility), you do learn a lot there and it prepares you for quite a few things later on. Also for life outside hospital. It does make you stronger and you learn to speak up, which is something Germans don’t mind you doing. I learnt a lot about myself and I feel it was very good for me. 


Where do you see yourself after this year?

I want to improve my German and learn more terminology and definitely will try and do further training. But I still need some time.

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