Edchel Grace Cortez came to Germany from the Philippines in 2020. Following a successful recognition process, today she works as a general nurse in Alzey.
“For me, recognition means practising the profession I enjoy – and the profession in which I can use all of my experience and skills for the benefit of the patients.”
Edchel Grace Cortez set to work very quickly in her new job in Germany. She arrived here in autumn 2020. After just a few weeks she attended training to prepare for the knowledge test. She needed to take this test to gain recognition as a registered general nurse. The test covers theory and practice, and she passed it at the first attempt. She works as a general nurse in the German Red Cross hospital in Alzey.
Edchel Grace Cortez clearly has a great deal of specialist expertise. In the Philippines, as in many other countries, the training you need to become a general nurse is a degree. The 40-year-old completed the course of study in nursing, gaining a bachelor’s degree. Following this, she worked on the surgical ward of a hospital in her home country. After four years, she went to Oman. Here she gained a further seven years of professional experience. The focus of her work was the medical care of patients and not just nursing.
“I am hungry for knowledge and always looking for new challenges. I was excited by having another chance to get to know a totally different health system,” explains Edchel Grace Cortez. Her route to Germany took her via a placement agency which the Red Cross Hospital in Alzey has been working with for many years. Edchel Grace Cortez was still in her home country when she applied for recognition of her professional qualification to the State Office for Social Affairs, Young People and Care in Rhineland-Palatinate (LSJV). The placement agency supported her in this. The agency also helped her to apply for a visa and complete a language course. In the Philippines, Edchel Grace Corte first had to focus on learning German. This is because, in addition to professional certificates, a language certificate at level B2 is required for entry into Germany.
Once this was completed, Edchel Grace Cortez arrived in Alzey in Rhineland-Palatinate. Here she was welcomed with open arms. “We are delighted that Ms Cortez has decided to continue her professional career with us. This is because we need specialists and our experience of colleagues from the Philippines has been excellent,” explains Astrid Breitmann, Director of Nursing at the Red Cross hospital in Alzey. The Director of Nursing explains how their degree means that general nurses from the Philippines have a great deal of knowledge of the medical care of patients.
Just a few weeks following her arrival, Edchel Grace Cortez attended a preparation course for the knowledge test. The training is offered by the German Red Cross Regional Association together with Rhineland-Palatinate Network IQ. She subsequently passed the knowledge test at the first attempt. Individuals are able to use the knowledge test to compensate for substantial differences between a foreign professional qualification and the German reference occupation. The preparation course for the knowledge test is demanding as those attending must acquire a lot of knowledge of theory and practice within a short period of time. The coronavirus pandemic also affected the course. In order to prevent infections, it was only possible for the course to take place online. This presented an additional challenge for both teachers and those attending.
However, Edchel Grace Cortez did have a chance to settle in a bit beforehand. She got to know her new colleagues in the hospital’s residential accommodation. She undertook her initial nursing duties under the guidance of care workers. She supported patients with nutritional intake, personal hygiene and with maintaining their mobility, for example. She also checked blood pressure, heart rate and temperature.
Gradually taking greater responsibility
In March 2021, Edchel Grace Cortez received notice of her recognition as a registered general nurse from the State Office for Social Affairs, Young People and Care (LSJV). She is now changing bandages, providing medicines for patients, and preparing transfusions. Gradually she is being given greater responsibility. She is involved in the organisation of the ward and has contact with relatives and other hospital departments. She also writes nursing reports and documentation. Edchel Grace Cortez also orders material and medicines for her ward. The aim is for her to already be running an area of her ward independently in just a few months.
Edchel Grace Cortez is really pleased that she's able to make full use of all her experience in such a short period of time. However, she admits that sometimes the German language is still a challenge for her. This is the case for example in telephone conversations or if people talk to her in the Rheinhessen dialect. However, she practises almost every day using a language learning app and attends the hospital's weekly language course. Astrid Breitmann, Director of Nursing, is always on hand to answer any questions and helps with problems or concerns. Having contact with eight colleagues from the Philippines has also made the settling in period in Alzey easier. Despite all the work and continuing to learn the language, there is of course also time for hobbies. Edchel Grace Cortez enjoys reading and is exploring the local Rheinhessen area by hiking and going for walks.
The text is an edited version of the original text by Susanne Hoffmann which was published in May 2021 on the Network IQ Rhineland-Palatinate website. The preparation course for the knowledge test is a joint offer of the Rhineland-Palatinate German Red Cross Regional Association and the Rhineland-Palatinate Network IQ.