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Nurses in the sky hailed on International Nurses’ Day

May 15, 2021 Itchie G. Cabayan 432 views

Compassion, empathy and altruism are just some of the many words that would best describe one of the oldest and most noble professions in the world— nursing.

Even before the pandemic turned our world upside down, every 12th of May, people around the world celebrate their heroism and bravery and for often risking their own lives in the line of duty.

According to, there are around 500,000 nurses in the Philippines. Each year, some 38,000 new nurses join the workforce providing adequate health care among Filipinos, especially important in far flung municipalities.

However not all nursing graduates end up in hospitals or clinics as some have chosen a different path, just like our allstar cabin crew who are making good use of what they learned in the nursing profession by way of taking care of our valued guests in the sky.

As they say, once a nurse, always a nurse. Beyond doing what is right, it’s a calling that one must heed especially in dire situations like the global pandemic.

Cabin crew Frances Nicole Esmilla started her career as an Occupational and Telemedicine Nurse for a network of multi-specialty medical clinics before becoming a Patient Experience Officer of a well-known hospital in Taguig for four years. Part of her daily work routine was to ensure that patients have a smooth experience during their stay in the hospital, either for checkup or medical procedures.

Like many other hopefuls, Nicole also dreamed big for her family. Realizing that she could make this reality come true and enjoy traveling at the same time, she shifted career to pursue her dream of becoming a flight attendant. In July 2018, Nicole officially became part of AirAsia’s Inflight team.

For Nicole, the only difference between being a cabin crew and a nurse is that she performs her duties 33,000 feet above sea level. Part of the duty of a cabin crew is to ensure the safety of the passengers and prevent or assist with any medical situations. Being a registered nurse makes Nicole one of the most capable people inflight.

In fact, she recalled an incident where a passenger approached her for help during one of her flights to Incheon. “The Korean passenger was very pale and he looked like he was going to pass out at any time. I let him lay on the floor with my trolley bag under his legs and monitored him until he felt better. He was very thankful for the immediate assistance that I gave him. It makes my job more fulfilling, Nicole said.

Like Nicole, Cabin crew Reichelle “Reich” Esguerra worked for two years in a world-class hospital before becoming a flight attendant. She claims being a nurse was beyond just being her passion because taking care of a patient’s wellbeing brings her great joy and fulfillment. She admits to sometimes being tired and exhausted at the end of her shift, but the smiles from the patients whom she had already made friends with became an invaluable reward for a day’s work.

Reich considers her shift from the four corners of the hospital to the cabin a part of God’s plan to her. Now she is serving a much better purpose with pride.

“There was this one experience during an international flight where a passenger was complaining about having difficulty in breathing and blurred vision”, she recalled in her four years as a cabin crew.

“While all cabin crew are well trained in first aid and handling medical issues inflight, knowing that I was also a registered nurse on that flight, my colleagues immediately turned to me for first aid. I calmly assessed the passengers’ condition and attended to her needs until we reached Manila. For a minute, it felt like I was still doing my rounds in the hospital because of how much the passenger thanked me”, she added.

The ongoing Covid-19 pandemic has severely impacted the aviation industry with fewer flights due to travel restrictions. With its core value of putting people first, AirAsia has opened up various opportunities for employees to upskill and maximize their other potentials.

In the case of Nicole and Reich, they know they have to share their knowledge and experiences so others won’t fall ill to the virus. Sadly for both of them, they also lost people they love during the pandemic.

Nicole said, “During the pandemic my father passed away and I felt so bad that I wasn’t able to take care of him because of the lockdown. The pain of losing someone you love especially during this difficult time made me decide to give back to those who are in need of medical help.”

“COVID 19 took away my sister. I am now channeling my energy in a positive way and have decided to become a medical support volunteer. I hope I’ll be able to live the legacy of my sister through caring for others”, Reich said.

They may have traded their scrubs for cabin crew uniforms, but as a nurse they will always be ready to respond whenever the situation calls for it.

Aresounding salute to all nurses on this International Nurses Day for braving the odds and taking the frontline in the combat against COVID-19. Indeed, your dedication in saving lives is far beyond comparison.


Jokjok (from Coralyn Pasimio of Nueva Ecija)— Sa isang turo-turo… Customer: Manang, may langaw sa arroz caldo ko! Anu ba naman ýan?/ Tindera: Hellow! Sa halagang five pesos anong ini-expect mo? Manok?!?


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