Filipino Americans: Key Players in the US Healthcare System

Filipino Americans: Significant Contributions to US Healthcare System

/ 11:37 AM May 24, 2023

The population of Filipino American nurses in the United States has steadily grown in the past decade. With their rich history of immigration and strong work ethic, Filipino Americans have made significant contributions to various sectors of the country, particularly in the healthcare system.

Did you know that the Philippines has emerged as America’s top source for nursing professionals, since 1970, according to the American Nurses Association. Their presence and dedication have played a crucial role in shaping and improving healthcare services across the United States.

In this blog post, we will explore the valuable contributions of Filipino healthcare professionals, including nurses, doctors, and other healthcare support staff. Despite facing challenges such as exploitation and wage discrimination, Filipino Americans have persevered and impacted the US healthcare system.

Filipino Contributions and Tribulations in the US Health System

Explore the pivotal roles Filipino Americans occupy in US healthcare. Learn about their history, current roles, and the profound impact they make.
Filipino Americans have played a vital and often underappreciated role in the US healthcare system. They have provided essential services and brought unique perspectives and approaches to patient care.

However, their journey has not been without challenges. Filipino healthcare professionals, particularly nurses, have faced exploitation and wage discrimination throughout history.

During the surge of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Philippine Nurses Association of America Inc. (PNAA) reported an increase of 149% in hate crimes among Asian-American. This includes the racist attack on a Filipina in her late 50s in New York.

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Despite these tribulations, their resilience and commitment to their profession have allowed them to overcome obstacles and continue making significant contributions to healthcare.

The History of Filipino Americans in US Healthcare

The history of Filipino Americans in the US healthcare system dates back to the early 1900s when the first Filipino nurses arrived. The United States has been bringing in nurses from the Philippines for a long time. This started when the United States took control of the Philippines in 1898.

Initially recruited to fill the nursing shortage, Filipino nurses soon proved themselves invaluable with their exceptional skills and dedication. The Americans established nursing schools there to teach Western medicine in English.

After World War II, American hospitals didn’t have enough nurses. As such, they looked to the Philippines for help through a program allowing nurses to come to the United States temporarily.

In the 1960s, Filipino nurses in the States started to grow rapidly, becoming an integral part of the healthcare workforce. This and a law Congress passed in 1965 made it easier for hospitals to hire Filipino nurses. Many of these nurses send money remittances to their families in the Philippines, helping the country’s economy.

However, they have faced challenges along the way. Filipinos and Filipino Americans have had to deal with unfair pay, discrimination based on their race, being taken advantage of, and working in poor conditions.

Current Roles of Filipino Americans in Healthcare

Nurses and Doctors

Doctors performing surgery.
Filipino American healthcare professionals, especially nurses, and doctors, hold key positions within the US healthcare system. Statistical data highlights their significant presence and impact.

According to the University of California, San Francisco, approximately 18% of all registered nurses in California are of Filipino descent. This substantial representation demonstrates Filipino American nurses’ critical role in ensuring quality healthcare delivery.

The contributions of Filipino American doctors are equally noteworthy. Many have excelled in various medical specialties, including cardiology, oncology, and pediatrics. Their expertise and dedication have enriched patient care and advanced medical practices throughout the states.

Personal stories like Zenei Triunfo-Cortez, president of National Nurses United, further illustrate the profound impact of Filipino American healthcare professionals. Cortez had firsthand experience of how challenging to be a Filipino nurse in America.

As one of the frontline people in the COVID-19 situation in 2020, Cortez pleaded for proper training, equipment, and staff to the US government to address the early pandemic.

On the other hand, the compassionate care of Filipino nurses provides their exceptional clinical skills. They embody the core values of the nursing and medical professions. Their empathetic approach and cultural sensitivity contribute to a patient-centered healthcare system.

Challenges Faced by Filipino Nurses

Despite their remarkable contributions, Filipino nurses have encountered significant challenges in the US healthcare system. Exploitation and wage discrimination have been persistent issues throughout history.

Filipino nurses are often mistreated, receiving lower wages than their counterparts. In an interview, Cortez mentioned that she wasn’t allowed to work in a facility because she is Filipino.

But her being Tagalog doesn’t mean she is weak. Cortez stepped up, fought for her right, and set an example for her fellow kababayans with the same job.

This unjust disparity has fueled advocacy efforts to address the issue and ensure equal rights and compensation for all healthcare professionals. Additionally, language barriers and cultural challenges have presented obstacles for Filipino nurses.

Adjusting to a new healthcare system, adapting to different medical practices, and overcoming linguistic hurdles require resilience and determination. However, these challenges have not deterred them from providing exceptional patient care nationwide.

Healthcare Support Staff

While nurses and doctors receive much attention, it is crucial to recognize the contributions of Filipino Americans in other healthcare support roles.

These roles include medical technologists, respiratory therapists, pharmacists, and administrative positions. Each role plays a crucial part in supporting the overall healthcare system.

Filipino Americans, with their strong work ethic and dedication to patient care, have excelled in these roles and contribute significantly to the smooth functioning of healthcare facilities.

Impact of Filipino Americans on US Healthcare

Nurse at a hospital control room
The impact of Filipino Americans on the US healthcare system cannot be overstated. Their collective contributions have redefined patient care and improved healthcare outcomes nationwide.

Personal narratives from Filipino American healthcare professionals highlight the transformative effects of their work. Through their expertise, compassion, and commitment to patient well-being, they have touched countless lives and continue to shape the future of healthcare in the United States.

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Unwavering Filipino Service

The journey of Filipino American healthcare professionals has not been without its share of challenges. They have weathered exploitation and wage discrimination storms, persevering with unwavering resolve. In the face of adversity, they have emerged as beacons of strength, embodying the very essence of the human spirit.

The story of Filipino Americans in the US healthcare system is one of triumph against all odds. From the early 1900s, when the first Filipino nurses arrived on American shores, to the present day, where they comprise a significant portion of the nursing workforce, their impact cannot be overstated.

Their expertise, nurtured through years of experience and deep-rooted caring culture, has elevated patient care to new heights. However, let us not confine their contributions to statistics and accolades.

Behind every white coat and stethoscope lies a narrative of compassion, sacrifice, and an unwavering commitment to healing. The tales of Filipino American healthcare professionals, woven with threads of empathy and cultural sensitivity, remind us that the essence of healthcare lies in treating patients not as mere cases but as fellow human beings.

Unwavering Filipino Service


Today, as we bid farewell to this narrative, we urge you, our readers, to delve deeper into the tapestry of Filipino American contributions to the US healthcare system. Unearth the stories within the confines of bustling wards and quiet operating rooms.

Learn the journeys of those who have overcome adversities with resilience and grace. Let their stories inspire you to treat healthcare providers with the respect and gratitude they rightly deserve.

So, pause for a moment. Reflect on the tireless efforts, the healing touch, and the unwavering dedication of Filipino American healthcare professionals. Embrace the shared humanity that unites us all in the pursuit of well-being. Let their stories ignite a flame of appreciation within your hearts, and in doing so, become a catalyst for change.

In addition, let us foster a culture of compassion, understanding, and respect within our healthcare system. Let us celebrate the diversity that enriches the tapestry of patient care. And let us honor the contributions of Filipino Americans and all healthcare providers who tirelessly serve as the backbone of our nation’s well-being.

In closing, we implore you to embark on a journey of discovery. Learn more about Filipino Americans and their profound impact on the US healthcare system. Embrace the power of empathy and gratitude as you interact with healthcare providers.

Together, let us create a future where Filipino American healthcare professionals’ compassionate touch continues redefining patient care for generations.


What notable Filipino American nurses have made a difference in the US healthcare system?

Several notable Filipino American nurses have left a lasting impact on the US healthcare system. One such nurse is Fe del Mundo, who became the first Asian woman admitted to Harvard Medical School.

Her pioneering work in pediatrics and child healthcare has influenced generations of healthcare professionals. Another prominent figure is Loretta Fuddy, who served as the director of the Hawaii State Department of Health and played a crucial role in implementing healthcare policies to improve public health.

How can I learn more about the contributions of Filipino Americans to the US healthcare system?

To learn more about the contributions of Filipino Americans to the US healthcare system, you can explore various resources. Books such as “Empire of Care: Nursing and Migration in Filipino American History” by Catherine Ceniza Choy provide in-depth insights into the history and experiences of Filipino healthcare professionals.

Additionally, online platforms and organizations focused on Filipino American healthcare professionals offer valuable information and personal stories that shed light on their remarkable contributions.

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