I Love You, but Nursing is Still the Biggest Regret of my Life.

You never wanted to be a nurse. Never.

Gasp! Well, don’t scream yet. Read on.

This is the truth – We never really wanted to be a nurse. Most of us were forced by society, by our families, by culture — yet nursing isn’t really what we wanted to do in the first place.

We were just lured with the false promise of “nursing will get us to the U.S.” – the land of milk and honey.

Yet it’s not true. Most of us are stuck here now in the Philippines with broken promises…


There’s so much to tell, but first…

A History.

My older brother, my hero, graduated high school and (surprise, surprise) my father forced him to take nursing. Diligent, brave, resolute — he refused. Hell broke loose and he got kicked out of the house. He literally was out of the house for four months!

He lived in a friend’s dorm. Everyday I stopped by and gave him a big part of my allowance. He had nothing, he needed it more than I did. I was crying for months. My family was falling apart. Every single day he would hug me, “I’m sorry for doing this to you, little sis.”

“It’s okay big bro, it’s okay.”

When my turn came, turned 16 and graduated high school. Daddy dearest ordered me to take up nursing.

“Yes, daddy.”


I love my family. But I don’t want to be a nurse.

I’ve always loved my family, I never stopped loving them. But I have to go against my father’s wishes.

I’m sorry, dad. But I don’t want to be a nurse.”

Christmas 2009. My dad broke down in tears. My aunt (who was a pediatrician in the Philippines but is now a nurse in Las Vegas) calmly and meticulously explained to my father the real situation of the nursing world — the nursing world was bleak.

“I’m so sorry my dear, Ambria. I’m so sorry.”

“It’s okay, dad…”


The Aftermath.

My brother (I always thought he was smart), flunked every subject he had just to prove to my father that he can’t be controlled. Everybody called him a failure.

He failed at first. Then he failed a lot. Then a lot more.

He found his true calling. He’d always been a natural at computers. Everything was easy for him. He bought a programming book and started his adventure — just for fun. He now has his own condo, living comfortably having an online job as a web programmer.


The Secret.

I never lied to anybody. But I have a secret. I got my 10 year tourist visa a long time ago. 2009, I lived with my aunt in Vegas for six months.

It’s a beautiful place. The Bellagio fountain is spectacularly beautiful. The Blue Man group shocks and stupefies. Sunset park is so beautiful. My hubby loved fishing in Lake mead. Vegas is a beautiful desert.

If you’re curious, I’m not rich or anything. This lady beautifully perceived how I got my visa.

For the shorter story, somewhere along my mind-numbing call center job, my hubby and I decided to save. We saved half our pay every month. And after two years of hard work, we were able to present our “show money” to the embassy and decent amount of proofs, paychecks that we are doing fine in the Manila and won’t overstay.

Stamped. Approved. Viva Las Vegas.


The Experience Abroad.

Here’s the hard part — explaining to people the reality. I’ve met nurses there. A whole lot. Is America really the land of milk and honey?

I’ve met dozens of nurses there. I’ve noticed something — I’ve noticed nursing is just like any other day job. Day jobs are what keeps you from doing “that thing” you really love to do.

I noticed their tired, weary faces “life abroad, hayyy.” They were empty, hollow voids. Filling a big hole in their lives with shopping, get togethers and farmville.

Don’t get me wrong, their lives are still a million times better than ours (I wasn’t born rich, so yeah, better than mine).

But still… something’s missing.

And after a few years of burning out — they start to question. Is this all there is to life? Am I doing all the things I should be doing? Something’s missing…

Something is missing… Where do you think midlife crisis comes from?



The Cold Hard Truth.

I will be mean here. Like a mother spanking a child — it’s for your own good.

You never wanted to be a nurse. You just wanted to use nursing to go abroad.

You. I’m talking to you. You, who are about to slap me. I’m sorry, but I’m talking to you. I have to say it.

People want to go and build a life abroad. And nursing will take them there.


Way back when you were young, you wanted to be an engineer, you wanted to be a doctor, a lawyer. You wanted to be a movie star — the most hunkable of hunks, the most stunning of actresses.

You wanted to be a stewardess, a young adventurist, flying across the ocean, wondering where the plane will take you next. You want to travel the world! You could be a pilot, controlling the massive flying contraption, master of the 747. You are 40,000 feet above the sky, everyday, whereas grounded humans only wish they were.

Point is, we dreamed of becoming doctors, lawyers, engineers, astronauts, cowboys, movie stars, super-models – but nobody dreamed of becoming a nurse!

If you did, good for you. I’m happy that you got what you wanted. I’m Serious.


The Sad Truth.

Calm down, calm down. We’re almost there. I know you want to crucify me now but — listen.

If 20 years ago, America declared they needed teachers instead of nurses. There would (instead) be a million unemployed teachers, getting a real heart-warming fulfillment every time a student says “thank you. And getting a surge of joy when the cutest little pre-schooler hands them an apple.

I’m sorry. But it’s the truth.

But now, there’s instead (and I’m one of them) millions of unemployed nurses stuck here in the Philippines.


You Learned to Love Nursing.

Nursing is your second, third, fourth love. Well, it might be.

My first love is cooking, then blogging, then “coffee-ing,” then movies, then maybe nursing. If nursing gave me comfortable life abroad, I would be truly grateful for it. And “learn” to love it. Then again, if teaching, cooking, blogging gave me comfortable life abroad, I’d be truly grateful for it too. (And learn to love it too)

Blogging is my second love, and third is coffee, then movies. If I were to own a cafe or work in a movie house OR be a nurse abroad — I would love it, but the first and biggest love, cooking, will always be missing.


What’s the Point?

I had a visa, living in Vegas, my aunt offered me an under the table care-giver job — Why, oh why did I leave?

What’s the point? I’ve dreamed of going to the U.S.A. and my dad thought nursing will take me there. I’ve gotten a visa on my own so far (call center agent, who knew?). The whole purpose of nursing was to get me to U.S.A., but I’m already there — so what’s the point?

Salary? Lot’s of opportunities there. You could actually do what you love for a change.

Why didn’t I take the caregiver offer? Because I know for sure it would make me miserable. I was already there, why not cooking instead?

My hubby, baby boy and I each have ten years tourist visa. U.S.A. is a beautiful place for vacations. But living there? I don’t know… that’s another story.

As for me, my cooking will pay for our vacations someday. See Vegas again, then L.A., the off to New York to get pictures at Empire State Building, Statue of Liberty — for Facebook. Exclusively for Facebook pictures only.

Then cross those off the bucket list and off to visit France, Italy and Australia. I firmly believe my cooking will take me places. Lots of beautiful places.


Your Dream is a Guarantee.

Why am I really, really, really sure I’d be a successful cook someday? Because dreams do come true.

This is not fairy tales, “the secret” or “law of attraction” thing, this really has a scientific explanation behind it. (Really).

It’s simple. You work harder for it. You work more hours for it.

If you’re a receptionist, you’d do an okay job, work only 40 hours a week. But when you get home, you’d spend the remaining countless hours doing your passion (let’s say writing), you’d spend countless blissful hours perfecting your writing. Every single word has to be perfect, every letter counts.

I work 40 hours a week at a call center, but when I get home, I spend hundreds of hours experimenting on new recipes. The buying of new ingredients is already a delightful experience. The cooking itself, the smelling of the aroma, the tasting and the biggest smile from my hubby when he eats it — It feels like heaven.

That’s how I know cooking is my life. My life, dream, my passion.


I get lower pay as a call center agent  working 40 hours a week. How about if I get paid as a chef working a million hours a year?


You Will do Your Passion No Matter What.

When I was in Vegas, I felt like I was close to my previous dream of becoming a nurse. But all that’s in my head was cooking! I dreamed when I get good pay from nursing, I’d use it to buy a nice kitchen, with all the varieties of ingredients and cookwares. I dreamed of using nursing to put myself into a culinary university.

I was going to be a cook no matter what!

Once I graduated from culinary school, I would’ve left nursing and pursued cooking either way. I was born to be a cook. God made me that way.


The Stories.

My uncle, the best handyman I’ve ever met, is a hotel manager. On his days off, he makes the coolest carpentry, projects, car restorations I have ever seen. He’s good at everything!

“Why do you do it?,” I asked.

“Because I love it.” He replied.

You will do your passion whether you get paid or not. It’s too bad my uncle never turned his life around to fully do what he loved.

 You will always do your passion whether you get paid for it or not…


My brother, ever the black sheep — the drop out, the failure — is now our most successful family member. He is a full blown web programmer, and is very, very happy.


My uncle quit as an Engineer in California, and opened his car repair shop. “It’s simply what I love to do,” he said.


My cousin in Vegas is now a full-pledged freelance writer. Why is this amazing? Because he never read a book in his life! He doesn’t read! (Prior. And except gaming mags and playboy — so he says).

At 25, he was going nowhere. A college drop-out, unemployed, broke. A friend of his suggested “work-at-home jobs.” He started experimenting at elance, odesk etc. He was good at it! He was a natural at writing. He then landed big jobs at demand studios and textbroker. He now earns more than his dad (hotel manager) while completely staying at home all day.


We were meant to do something in this world.

God brought us here for a reason, for a calling. If we were to go against our passion, we would be incomplete. There will always be something missing. You will always find yourself filling a void.


You will never get tired of your passion.

50 years from now, I will still love cooking — everyday. I might’ve appreciated nursing, but after a few years, I would have gotten in to a personal crisis and shifted to cooking. I’m thankful for my call center job, but I can’t do this for ten more years!

Pacqiuao has 3 to 4 (?) years left in boxing? But when he turns 60, he will still be watching great boxing events ringside. And own his fight promotion or boxing gym.

Michael Jordan is done playing, but will still be an owner or a part owner of a team when he’s 75.

Imagine where you are now. What’s your job? Can you do it for the next 40 years?

Probably not.


Our dreams will succeed.

When customers first taste my cuisine (someday), the mouthwatering flavor will rinse through their mouths, exploding flavors will make them relish in passion. The perfect mixture of sweet, spicy and sourness will rock their world.

Why? Simple. It’s because they’ll notice the thousands of hours spent in it. The careful, meticulous passion spent in every recipe — they will notice it. They will notice the hard work. They will love it and come back for more.


Sure there will be trials.

There will always be trials. It’s super hard to get started but — you will never give up.

When you’re doing something that’s NOT your passion, and get only a few bucks for it — you’ll give up easily.

“I get low pay as a bank teller, so I quit.”

But even if I get low profit in my restaurant, I’ll still smile and cook. Why? Because I don’t know what else to do. I can’t imagine myself doing something else.

When your passion is cars, you will keep your auto-shop alive no matter what, because what else are you gonna do? Cars are all you live for.


I love you.

I don’t know you but I’ve been through the same life beating you’ve gone through. I’ve been beaten, bled out, left to rot in the sun… I’ve been there. All the questions, doubts, persecutions – what am I going to do with my life? Is this all there really is? Am I doing the right thing? Can I do this for the next 40 years? – I’ve been there.

You, who went (or about to go) through it — remember, I know how you feel. I love you.

I wrote this down NOT to make you give up nursing, I wrote this down to make you think about “the other important aspects of life.”

Like what I’ve said as my first plan — I would’ve used nursing to buy me a great kitchen, put me in culinary school and later open up my own little food place.

Use nursing, DO nursing but remember – keep your dreams alive.




About ambria

A nursing graduate. Works at a call center and teaches English to Koreans during weekends. Hey, we do anything we could to survive right? I'm putting myself to a culinary school. I want to have my own restaurant someday, wish me luck!

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  1. The Biggest Mistake of my Life was taking up Nursing
  2. I Love You, Your Dreams Will Come True
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  • http://www.shasha.tv Sharcoaleyes

    Now, this one I like :)

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_ES4DKPQK4PQUT3WEXUJ5X6GARU Ambria


  • http://saraidefoe.blogspot.com Jolina

    This got me very confused. :)

    • Ambria

      I call this article a success then :) Your heart is showing you a new path a try out :)

      • Rico garcia

        your blog admittedly created a stir in the nursing profession and you digged the repressed feelings of many nurses out there including this writer. i will not try to justify and reason out why i took up nursing but just to re assure nurses that your article is not entirely true and indeed nursing is a true calling.

         you did mention that most nurses did not want to take up nursing. maybe true but you know in high school you don’t choose which course you ‘ll take. at this phase most are still unable to decide. courses are of course set upon by your parents or whoever is bankrolling your studies and in those times nursing really was the “in demand” course. who would want to enroll on BS so and so when back then BSN is the way to sure job placement and lots of dollars. it is also very true that the community puts weight in your decisions. eventhough nursing is not the thing now, still most students study courses in IT and maritime courses. in their hope of landing a job abroad like nursing before. 

        now  that we are nurses we don’t have to forego our profession just to follow our hollow dreams. the best thing is add your passion to nursing and the result would be awesome. 

        some try to justify that they learned to love nursing but you are correct in saying that deep inside you still yearn to do what was your dream. others say nursing is the noblest profession because you can not afford to make mistakes and making the same in giving care to patients. you can not also automize results like factory production lines. in your culinary hobby you can make mistakes  with your ingredients but not with a 0 .9 NaCl drip with inotropes. 

        speaking in general you forgot to mention in your blog: fate, happiness, love, family, prayer and God in relation to your quest for that inner peace.  there are variables that you can not escape. they all play part in what we do and will do. also it depends on how you see things. sure i also have my dreams before and still with me. i have no regrets, i am where i am now. contented in what i have and the future? we never know what will happen. anyway thanks for your blog, it is interesting. ciao

  • patoque

    yoU aRe the BesT authoR I LOve yoUr post madam Great!!!! Walang halong kaplastikan u are superb I salute you more blessings to come and thanks for posting this one I’m going to read a lot of your post now :) tagos tagos ang mga blogs mo I doappreciate it a lot thanks once again

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_ES4DKPQK4PQUT3WEXUJ5X6GARU Ambria

      Thanks! You got me inspired. I originally plan to write only once a week, due to my super busy life. But then again, I’ve gotten great responses — I should write more!!

      Thanks for this comment!

  • Lenard

    Sorry to be the Devil’s advocate here, but I found the post to be a bit jumpy and got confused in the way the story was presented.

    - I assume you graduated nursing, but did you ever pass the boards? Cos by the time you went to LV your call center job paid for the trip. This part got me confused.
    - I was also confused as to why you would compare a tourist visa (single or 10years) to a nurse’s working visa?
    - you stayed in the US for 6 months which means at one point you applied to have your visa extended. Why? We’re you looking for a job there?

    I am also surprised that you were able to assess and generalize OFW (nurses) in the US by interviewing (or interrogating in your own words) a dozen or so people. It also seems like that the part of Las Vegas you were in eh malungkot lahat Ng Pinoy sa lugar na yun. I am also impressed with the fact that your were able to interview newly arrived, 1 year, 2 years and more than 2 years in your 6 month quest but havent met anyone that is completely happy and satisfied with their life abroad.
    - you also generalized that NO ONE wanted to be a nurse when they were young.
    - your comparison of boxing and other “jobs” to cooking is way off, and just like you people could still play basketball or box till they grow old if they choose to.

    - your presentation of cooking as your passion is somewhat perplexing. Do you mean it as a hobby or profession? Your article seemed to justify cooking as a hobby and haven’t tackled about you pursuing it as your profession and main source of income.

    - Skype doesn’t hire non-diploma holders or non degree holders for their programming and IT positions not do they give visa assistance let alone get someone in a different country and fly them to their HQ.

    Anyway, your writing style is very interesting made me read the whole article. Maybe some more editing and composition and presentation of ideas. Remember of you are trying to prove a point never generalize until you have facts which would be hard for non measurable items like dreams, beauty etc. so try to stay away from that. Also assume that your reader does not know you do when you for background make it concise to avoid confusion. :)

    Good luck on your blogging and cooking. :)

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_ES4DKPQK4PQUT3WEXUJ5X6GARU Ambria

      Wow, so long. Let me try my best here.

      - After I passed the nursing board, I told my father it was hopeless and found a call center job instead. (he was furious) I was a call center agent for 3 years before I went to LV.

      - I didn’t. tourist and work visa are different.

      - no extensions. 10 year visa “up to 6 months” at a time. When we got to LV, the customs interviewed us a little, and stamped “6 months”

      - my aunt really pushed me to apply for “sponsorship work visa” to a bunch of hospitals and care homes. That’s how I met so many pinay nurses there.

      - Sorry for generalizing the few dozens I met with everyone – my mistake.

      - I did quote there, “if you did, good for you. I’m happy you got what you wanted.”

      - I used boxing and basketball to prove, that even if their bodies can’t do it anymore, they’d still find some way to be around it. Manny has his boxing promotion? and Jordan is a team owner? They love their sports.

      - I said a bunch of times I’m in culinary school and would try to have my own resto after that. Unless you’d give me money to “immediately” build my own resto, it would be a hard road. Building a business is hard, but I’m willing to take the challenge. Sorry for not having my own resto yet, but I’ll definitely let you know when I get one.

      - I don’t know. But he was my brother’s close friend. He really is in California right now, he said he got it through skype. that’s all I know. I’ll message him in FB, I’ll ask the details.

      - I know. I’m not a professional blogger like you. I need more practice. I only write blogs once a week. maybe I’ll get better after a few years. but as of right now, “dreams” are all I want to write about. Sorry, but I won’t stop writing about dreams.

      I’ve just inspired a lot of people, maybe more people need to write more about “dreams,” huh? or is it “non measurable” like you said?

      Fact: I will get my dream someday. I will have my own foodplace someday and nothing you say will stop me.

    • Mik

      buTi nga pinag aaral sya ung iba hindi…hmmp

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  • vian

    life is meaningless without JESUS…

    • Iwamotoyuri

      yeah right ! :)

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  • AC

    My mom made me love nursing. I’ve always wanted to become a businesswoman or go to a culinary school. My mom told me I should take nursing for my own good, then she’ll let me do what I want after college. Time pass, clinicals, thesis, case study then graduation. Then when I got here in CA, I realized mother knows best talaga :) hehe.. I think i can say, in the long run, I fell inlove with it <3 :) of course i still dream of goin to cullinary school, but then nursing changed my heart. So no regrets for me. :)

    • AC

      Oh btw, i like your blog :) Keep it up!

    • Ambria

      You could still go to culinary school during the weekends – it’s a fun project :) Take advantage of federal aids (unless you really have very high salary, then you have to pay :) )

      But then again, going to cooking school and showing off your cooking skills on family gatherings, xmas, holidays — is a good way to show off (joke)

      oh, and thanks!

  • Pingback: » The Biggest Mistake of my Life was taking up Nursing

  • Templar

    Edited: be civilized please.


    • Ambria

      Get out of your mom’s house first before you start arguing with me.

  • Guest

    I don’t want to sound mean, but this post was really not written well. You kept jumping from one topic to the next, never really finishing each topic at all. Four paragraphs in and i already lost interest.
    Try to practice on your writing style. Present your story as one continuous flow…

    • Anonymous

      OMG, a contradiction. How do you practice on your own writing style? That’s right! By writing some more. duh :)

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_ES4DKPQK4PQUT3WEXUJ5X6GARU Ambria

      OMG, a contradiction. How do you suppose you practice on your writing style? That’s right! By writing some more… duh. Thanks anyway :)

  • Bryan_eusebio_21

    I took up nursing for one year and finally decided that this is not the course I wanted so I shifted to HRM. Good thing family and friends are supportive. <3

  • Bryan

    I took up nursing for one year and finally decided that this is not the course I wanted so I shifted to HRM. Good thing family and friends are very supportive. <3 Well, when I was in fourth year high school, I didn't know what course to take until summer of that school year. It was the time when batch mates would go out and scout for schools and enroll at a certain course and there I was, no decision yet. I can say that Nursing is 50% my choice and 50% my parents choice. They didn't even forced me to take but they actually encouraged me to take what course I like but they suggested nursing as a good course. And since I didn't really what I wanted that time, I enrolled at Nursing. And there, I finished two semesters of stress and studying. Sure I enjoyed it though with the company of my friends, Until my mom actually gave me a sort of an ultimatum. If I enroll for the summer classes (summer classes are required) then I must finish nursing because it's not a joke. The tuition fees and everything are not a joke so I better stay or else, I'll waste all of their money and all of my time at school. So after almost 4 months of battling in my kind, I finally realized that I wanna do things in life that doesn't belong to the nursing field. Now I'm actually taking up HRM and I'm enjoying my culinary subject! It fun and it's enjoyable. Thanks for sharing this story Ms. Ambria and hopefully meet you soon! :)

    • Ambria

      Thank you, Bryan. Long live to us, cooks! (culinary subject is super fun!)

      Follow your heart and everything will be fine.

  • Chickeekay

    It hit me- bull’s eye. Though I hate to admit it, I still regret that I took up nursing. Like of most of us who ‘had no choice at that time’, I felt like I have wasted my time on something I have no interest on. However looking at it from an optimistic view, I am somehow thankful that I did it anyway. You know what they say that when you do something you don’t really want, you got to realize what you really want. :)

    • Ambria

      So, have you started your ‘hobby’ yet? What is it? :)

      • Chickeekay

        I am currently honing my skills in photography. I love arts. I love telling stories. I love keeping memories. I originally wanted to take up mass communications in college. But now I’m using my savings from my nursing job to buy camera gadgets.

        If I may add, I read your article “Honesty will make even the Toughest of Men Cry.” It made realized that it wasn’t the really the act of taking up nursing that I regret. It was my lack of courage and persistence to pursue my dream.

        • Ambria

          yeah, me too. The whole reason I wrote these articles was to make people realize that they still need to pursue their “real” dreams.

          Not the dreams injected to them by society. :(

          Thank you for reading, and I know you’ll succeed at photography someday. Send me a link to your portfolio when you get one :)

  • Chickeekay

    Good or bad writing style… it doesn’t matter (Well, at least for me.)
    A great deal of comments means you have stirred a great deal of minds.
    You are one effective writer. Keep writing!

  • ranz

    hey, your blog was like an arrow that hit my wandering mind..such a great blog..it steered me to think of what I really wanted to be in life..Im also a Nurse but unfortunately I still was not able to apply what I’ve studied for 4 years (sorry for my poor english XD)..It’s been almost a year since I passed the Board Exam..but Im still here unemployed as a nurse..Yet I found ways to earn and help my family..Accidentaly, a friend introduced me to Network Marketing (MLM). at first, I was pessimistic about it because I never wanted to do that thing called “networking” (some say pyramiding)..but goodness gracious I earned at least 6 figures in a span of 4 months by doing it..unfortunately, I burned out and thought about what I finished..I thought about the License I dreamed for…Now, I’m seeking about what I really want..Options came into my mind, whether to study again (Masters or taking up Medicine) or seek for other opportunities that pay huge salaries…or to continue nursing and go abroad..I thought about my passion (music and playing with my band, and Im also fond of reading and researching medical related topics/articles) But, there is one certain thing that pulls me back in practicing nursing: my hands that are shaking (tremors) when I face new or critical moments.I need to build my confidence… I really love to practice my profession as a nurse…but some factors (such as my tremors and pagiging bingi at times) halt me in pursuing it..because we’re talking about patients’ lives…I need your advice….thank you!! I enjoyed your blog!!

  • Justine

    Thank you for posting this! I completely agree you need to do what you love!