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Licensed to Care: The Transnational Economy of Global 'Pinoy'

Fidel Taguinod

External Examiner: Professor Ruth Behar, University of Michigan, USA
Date Awarded: 2013
Fidel Taguinod SEPR graduated thesis 2013


The Philippines' experience in international labour migration is widely considered a success - an observation endorsed by international bodies such as the World Health Organisation. As an active source of professional nurses to the developed world, the country continues to produce more nurses than the local nursing market can employ; a labour strategy that is promoted, facilitated and supported by the Philippine state and nursing educational system. This thesis interrogates Filipino nurse migration through the methodological prism of autoethnography, drawing on first-hand experience and reflexive accounts, interviews, photographs, policy documents and material cultural artefacts, to critically examine and challenge the country's institutionalised migration regime. Divided into five chapters, Licensed to Care explores how the trend of increasing local production has resulted in the proliferation of more private schools offering nursing programmes; the retraining of medical doctors and other professionals to become nurses; and the development of transnational nursing education in the country. This in turn gives birth to a ‘surrogate nursing' paradigm that aims to facilitate the migration not only of professional nurses but also of Filipino nursing students abroad. Rather than as a response to local health needs, this development is provoked by a global demand and by the competitiveness of the international healthcare labour market. While the Philippines' culture of migration has been widely reported, the thesis argues that understanding this complex phenomenon calls for further and deeper excavation of the social, cultural, political and historical processes that continually shape Filipinos' personal motives and desires.