From N.K. Refugee to Licensed Nurse in Japan

Near the end of March this year, we at LFNKR got some exciting news. Miss K.H., whom  we have mentioned here before (see links below), had just passed Japan’s very difficult National Nursing Exam, and she was writing to tell us of her experiences:

She says:

Thanks to the support and help that the people around me have extended, I passed the National Nursing Examination!

On March 25, 2016, the results of the Exam were to be posted on the website of the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry of Japan. Did I pass? Naturally, as the time for the results to be posted approached, the number of people accessing their website ballooned.  I tried repeatedly to log on, but their servers were struggling. Finally, after many tries, I reached the page showing who had passed. Would I be among them?  At last, after scrolling down and down, I found my number!  I double checked, and yes, it was definitely my number.  When I logged off, the first thing I did was call all the wonderful people who had stood by me for so long – I couldn’t wait to let them know the results and to thank them.  I was so excited and my hands shaking so badly I found it hard to press the numbers.

Since I arrived in Japan seven years ago, the time has passed so very quickly.  When I left my hometown in North Korea, I was wondering if I would ever come back.  After landing in Japan, I have tried my utmost to adapt to the Japanese culture.  I worked part-time jobs, and I often asked my supervisors and associates endless questions. I was hungry to learn as much as possible about Japan, especially the language.  Sometimes I got frowns or laughter in response, but I had no time to feel self-conscious.

From the moment I decided to escape from North Korea and find freedom, I decided to live like weeds live – they strongly root in any new place they land.

Once resettled in Japan, I continually ran at top speed, first graduating from night classes at a junior high school, then passing the highest level of the Japanese Language Proficiency Test, and finally entering nursing school.  During my three years at the nursing college, I had to work very hard to keep up with the tough curriculum, a job that was harder than I had ever imagined.  Occasionally I was even tempted to regret choosing to become a licensed nurse.  The on-the-job training, in particular, was tough.  I had to work from morning till evening at a hospital and then had to prepare daily nursing reports at home at night.  The volume of the reports was huge and they took up so much time that many days, I could hardly find time to sleep.  I don’t know how many times I felt the temptation to quit.

What kept me from quitting was the patients I met at the hospital.  Patients undergo high stress both physically and mentally while in hospital.  However, despite their already high stress levels, they accepted with good grace our requests to let trainees such as me practice on them.  Of course, we trainees were awkward and clumsy in helping the patients with their eating, bowel movements or wheelchair needs, but the patients were so very nice and always said “Thank you.”  So many times a patient would help me by lifting my spirits when I was going through hardships.  This was how I remained firmly determined to become a nurse.

My three years at the nursing college were filled with tears, laughter and struggles, and now I am overflowing with joy that I have actually become a licensed nurse.

In fact, I am now working at the hospital where I had hoped to be hired, and have been assigned to an operating room.  Unlike the nurses working in the general wards, I do not spend much time with patients. On the other hand, operations are serious events for patients, who naturally become very nervous.  That is why one of the important duties assigned to nurses working in operating rooms is to alleviate the patients’ fear and their insecurity as much as possible within the limited time.  Another important task is, of course, to provide necessary assistance to the surgeons during operations.

I am still just a beginner nurse, and I have a lot to learn.  With full awareness that I am now engaged in work that is closely related to people’s lives, I want to devote myself to becoming the most skilled nurse I can be.

For previous posts about K.H. And her steady progress to become a licensed nurse in Japan, refer to:

Former NK Refugee in Nursing School

Set a Goal and Tackle it for Best Results

NK Refugee Qualifies for Nursing School