Caring for people with medical needs can be an overwhelming task. But for Filipino nurse Mary Jane Tupas, providing patients with care is not just a job, but a passion.
Born and raised in Kalibo, Aklan, Tupas is the lone Filipino official at the prestigious Mohammed Dossary Hospital (MDH) in Al Khobar, Saudi Arabia. She is the director at the MDH’s Nursing Department, earning recognitions from both Saudi and Filipino communities for her contributions in the field.
But before she reached her stature today, Tupas never thought of being nurse.
“Stewardess was my dream job. But my ambition to work abroad pushed me to take the profession of where I am right now,” she told the Filipino Life.
Tupas, who graduated from St. Gabriel College in Kalibo, was only 21 years old when she first worked in Saudi Arabia as a staff nurse in Monopoly Clinic in Saudi for five years.
After gaining experience in the field, she expanded her boundaries and worked in the bigger environment where she knew she can leave a mark in her profession. So she joined MDH in 1993 as a staff nurse where she was assigned in the ward and was consequently promoted as an infection control nurse.
But her advancement did not stop there. She was then promoted as a quality coordinator, then as a development officer, until she became the Nursing Department’s directress, a position she held for 14 years now.
Being the youngest and first Filipino to lead the department, Tupas said that she felt intimidated with other nationalities that were more senior and more “deserving” than her.
“I was challenged by many nationalities. Because there were more senior nurses before me yet they gave me the position as the director of the nursing department,”Tupas said.
“There was a time where they had a petition to remove me from my post and have wanted other nationality but me,” she added
But that did not bog her down. Tupas proved to the MDH community that she deserved the position by being a good example to her colleagues and by increasing her knowledge about the profession.
“I think the method I did to keep a good comradeship within my workmates is that I have the patience to understand them, the determination to educate them and the discipline to good attitude,” Tupas said.
She also took up Master’s Degree in Business Administration, went to different countries to train, and even attended various seminars.
“I’ve met people from different communities and nationalities through that experience. You really can get a lot of information and lessons from them,” she said.
Aside from her notable recognition as a Filipino nurse in the Kingdom, Tupas also leads various Filipino organizations. She is the president of the OFW 5th Congress as well as the Ro Aklanon Saudi Arabia, an organization of Filipinos from Aklan; and the founding president and adviser of the Philippine Nurses’ Association Eastern Region, Saudi Arabia.
In 2007, Tupas was awarded the Natatanging Bagong Bayani Blas F. Ople Award, the highest and most prestigious international award to the OFWs who foster goodwill among different peoples in the world, promote the image of the Philippines and contribute to the socio-economic development of their communities and the country. It was given by then President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and was held in Malacanang.
She was also featured in the Dubai-based Ilustrado Lifestyle Magazine as a Woman of Substance in 2013.
“It has always been my passion to help others. And I believe that God destined me to be a nurse in order to share the values of caring for one another,” she said.
But despite all the accolades she received, Tupas said that she owed everything to the Saudi and Filipino communities who duly acknowledged her skills and capabilities as a migrant nurse with the support provided by the MDH family headed by Mr. Abdul Fettah Enayal, Director General.
“Do your best to love your neighbor whether they are good to you or not. Don’t expect anything in return,” she said.