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Bridging healthcare with the power of language |


Bridging healthcare with the power of language

OOH LA LAI - Lai S. Reyes - The Philippine Star
Bridging healthcare with the power of language
George Cross Award: UK-based Filipina May Parsons (seated, second from left), the nurse who administered the world’s first COVID-19 vaccine, received a George Cross Award from the United Kingdom’s National Health Service (NHS) in Windsor Castle, England, on July 12, 2022. Also in photo are the late Queen Elizabeth II, King Charles and the other awardees.

At the peak of the global pandemic in 2020, a Filipino healthcare worker made headlines around the globe for being chosen to administer the world’s very first COVID-19 vaccine.

Through licensed nurse May Parsons, this monumental moment gave a glimpse of hope during one of the darkest periods of the 21st century.

In recognition of her extraordinary service, the late Queen Elizabeth II awarded May with the George Cross, the highest civilian honor in the UK, making her the first and only Filipino to receive this prestigious award.

Throughout her career — spanning two decades in the National Health Service (NHS) — May has served as an example of Filipino healthcare professionals’ compassion, skill, dedication, and work ethic.

May credits her fluency in medical English as a key factor that enabled her to provide exceptional care and develop her skills to take on leadership roles and excel in dynamic international healthcare settings.

Breaking the (medical) language barriers

OET global ambassador May Parsons with her George Cross Award

In the healthcare environment, effective communication could literally be a matter of life and death. And so, the need for not just skilled but also highly competent medical professionals who can deliver safe and effective care has never been more urgent.

Strong and certified English communication skills are not just crucial, but a universal expectation of every healthcare service provider worldwide.

However, attaining the necessary English skills required for global employability can be quite challenging. Local healthcare workers need to undergo rigorous training and preparation to be equipped with the mental acuity and test skills to take high-stakes language tests.

The lack of access to effective medical English training tailored to their needs limits the opportunities available and leads to lower-than-expected salaries for thousands of Filipino healthcare professionals.

To help them land their dream jobs abroad, they found an ally in the OET Test, an English test designed to mirror the language used in healthcare workplaces.

The OET Test was introduced over 30 years ago “to provide robust training, development, and assessment of the English communication skills that healthcare professionals need to excel in the global healthcare stage.”

Hundreds of thousands of healthcare professionals in more than 100 countries have benefited from it — May included — equipping them with world-class language expertise that aligns with international standards.

“I want to encourage healthcare professionals to be equipped with the foundational skills, like language mastery, for a fulfilling career wherever it takes you,” said May, global ambassador for OET. “Having excellent command of medical English can open new doors of opportunities while allowing healthcare workers to connect deeper with their patients and deliver impeccable care.”

The OET Test assesses healthcare professionals in reading, writing, listening and speaking using real workplace scenarios and healthcare terminology. These results accurately reflect an individual’s ability to communicate in an English-speaking healthcare setting, offering medical workers boundless options for practice and competency here and abroad.

Why english proficiency in healthcare matters

At the OET launch: (From left) Krizelle Kilicaslan, regional manager, OET; Sujata Stead, chief executive officer; Arnell Ignacio, OWWA administrator; Tom Keenan, regional director–APAC, OET

Partnering with OET, May aims to spotlight opportunities for Filipino talents by championing the importance of English proficiency in healthcare. This initiative aims to bridge the cultural barriers and help healthcare professionals realize their true potential in delivering high-quality healthcare services globally.

At the recent launch of OET’s partnerships with healthcare organizations in the country with the theme “Advancing Healthcare Communication in the Philippines: OET’s Role in Enabling Collaboration,” company leaders underscored its mission to empower healthcare professionals.

They spoke to OET’s latest collaborations with the Philippine Nurses Association (PNA), Dr. Carl Balita Group of Companies, and a number of Philippine universities aimed at equipping Filipino healthcare workers with world-class language skills and extended career opportunities abroad.

“At OET, our goal is to enable healthcare professionals to have the English language and communication abilities required to provide exceptional and safe care wherever they chose to work,” said Sujata Stead, CEO of OET. “We are honored to collaborate with outstanding local partners to support Filipino healthcare workers in furthering their careers while advancing healthcare access and outcomes across the Philippines.

Various initiatives will be launched as part of the partnerships. Future CPD-accredited seminars on OETs expert-developed English language learning at minimal to no cost are also on the horizon.

“Through our partnerships with local medical organizations, we’re delivering healthcare workers the tools to connect with patients, understand their needs, and provide care that transcends cultural barriers,” noted Krizelle Kilicaslan, regional manager of OET. “It’s about empowering Filipino healthcare professionals with the confidence they need to thrive in any environment.”

“Ensuring patient safety and delivering quality care means healthcare workers must have an excellent command of medical English,” enthused OET global ambassador May, who was in Manila for the launch. “In the spirit of innovation and collaboration, let us remember the importance of everyone’s crucial role in our ultimate goal: to enhance communication among Filipino healthcare professionals and improve the quality of healthcare, not only in the Philippines but across the globe. Let us use the knowledge to enhance healthcare communication to a higher level,” added May.

Communication is the heart of healthcare. It’s how medical practitioners understand patients and provide comfort in difficult times.

“Equipping healthcare professionals at all levels with strong medical English skills allows them to connect on a human level and deliver care that changes lives,” added Kilicaslan.

* * *

Learn how OET can help you. OET fairs are slated on Dec. 2, 1 to 5 p.m. at the Phil.

Nurses Association Inc.; Dec. 3, 9:30 to 12 noon at Trinity University of Asia in QC; and on Dec. 4, 9:30 to 12 noon at the University of the Assumption Domus Mariae in Pampanga.

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