Filipino nurse who was once labeled ‘not good enough’ now successful healthcare worker in UAE

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Jose Arnold Tariga, 32, was once demoted because he wasn’t ‘good enough’ and ‘Western-trained.’ He recalled when he arrived in UAE in 2013 and started to work as a staff nurse. His dedication at work eventually led to his promotion as a charge nurse, however, it was just a short-lived one. Tariga was demoted from the post for not being good enough.

He almost succumbed to depression at that point in his life. After constant prayers, it dawned on him that one day nobody can label him as ‘not good enough’ if he will not allow them to.

Tariga picked himself up, pushed himself harder than he could ever imagine, thus his passion for teaching was rekindled so he volunteered to assume the responsibility of an educator in the same facility, even it meant not getting additional pay for extra works and over time.

His experience drove him to finish his Ph.D. degree in education so she can become a better nurse and be more than enough.

Today, Tariga is a clinical resource nurse at the Salma Children’s Rehabilitation Hospital. In 2019, he was recognized by The Filipino Times as the Healthcare Professional of the Year.

“Teaching has always been my first love when I was young. But I eventually learned to love nursing when I experienced how amazing it is to help sick people get well—especially that I worked as an ICU nurse in the Philippines and I really had first-hand experiences in resuscitating dying people and nursing them back to health,” he said.

The healthcare professional added that the best thing about being a nurse and an educator at the same time is you mold nurses to become better healthcare professionals, which ultimately translates to better health outcomes for the people they serve.

“I always believe that teaching and nursing are among the noblest professions in the world, and I am so blessed and fortunate to be given the chance to do both,” he further added.

Tariga left the Philippines to provide his family with a more comfortable life, thinking it was his golden ticket to wealth and financial stability. “Working in the Philippines as a nurse is a struggle itself. My salary was never enough for my food and housing needs as I was working in Cebu City, and the cost of living is quite high. I could not regularly send money to my parents in Bohol and there were even times that I have to ask for their financial support as there were really days that I did not have anything to eat,” he recalled.

A volunteer

During his free time, he extends help to his kabayans by volunteering as a lecturer for the Special Nurses Licensure Examination Review Classes organized by the Philippine Nurses Association—UAE Chapter. He also offers free accredited Continuing Medical Education lectures and workshops to healthcare professionals in Abu Dhabi to help them with their license renewals. Moreover, he shares his research outputs by speaking in national and international conferences to contribute to the pool of knowledge in healthcare.

“One of the main reasons why I love living and working in Abu Dhabi is the fact that it is one of the safest cities in the world. I never once felt scared walking around the streets of UAE at any time of the day,” the clinical resource nurse said.

Tariga next big step, which s already in the pipeline, is to move to the US which offers more opportunities for specialization in nursing. When asked about his future plans, he said that he is considering pursuing another doctorate degree as a nurse practitioner so he can finally establish his own clinic and nerve the minorities in the Philippines.

“As for my advice to my fellow kabayans who are struggling here abroad, I would like to quote a verse in the bible from the book of Colossians 3:23-24 ‘Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people. Remember that the Lord will give you an inheritance as your reward and that the Master you are serving is Christ,” Tariga said. 

This story has been featured on the fifth issue of The Global Filipino Magazine. To get a copy, you may contact +971503196856. If you have an inspiring story or know someone with one, please send an email at tgfmfi@gmail.com.

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