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A guide to becoming an ex-pat nurse in Thailand

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A guide to becoming an ex-pat nurse in Thailand | The Thaiger

No one has a choice as to where they’re born, or even where they grow up, but once the growing up has taken place, there is plenty of choice – the world is much smaller now than ever before, and moving to a new country to start a career, or carry on an old one, has never been easier.

Thailand is a popular choice for Americans, and particularly American nurses who feel they can really make a difference in the country. The good news is that it’s entirely possible for a nurse to move to Thailand and continue to practice; although some career choices are restricted for foreigners, nursing isn’t one of them, and since there is a nursing shortage in Thailand, nurses from abroad are usually welcomed, as long as they have the appropriate qualifications and experience.

Before we look at just how to become an ex-pat nurse in Thailand, let’s take a look at why nursing is required around the world.

The Work Is Interesting

If you like the security of a job that has a set routine every day, where you arrive at the same time, leave at the same time, and everything in between hardly varies from week to week, then nursing won’t be the right career for you. If, however, you’re craving something a little more interesting, perhaps even exciting, then nursing might be ideal.

Every day is different when you’re a nurse. You’ll be presented with a vast number of challenges that you need to solve, and you’ll be testing your knowledge, experience, and strength at all points. Without knowing what or who you’re going to be presented with from minute to minute, you’ll never have a dull moment as a nurse. Yes, it’s exhausting, but it’s worth it.

A guide to becoming an ex-pat nurse in Thailand | News by The Thaiger

You Make a Difference

If you were to make a list of all the jobs in which someone can really make a difference, and in which their loss would be felt if they moved on to another workplace or quit or retired, nursing would be at the top for most people. Being in hospital is, thankfully, a rare event for most, but the fact that it doesn’t happen very often means that it can be even more frightening and upsetting if and when it does.

Without nurses, this situation would be even worse. Nurses are able to comfort patients, help them understand the procedures or conditions they have and are going through, and they treat the patients too. They liaise with other medical staff and patients’ families. They do everything, in fact, and they are the absolute backbone of any medical institute. A world without nurses would be a very difficult one to manage in.

When you are a nurse, you can leave your shift at the end of every day knowing you have made a positive impact on someone’s life. It is this feeling that will get you through even the hardest of days, and you can continue helping people for as long as possible.

There Are Many Opportunities

Nurse training can take place either online or offline. If you choose offline, in a traditional college, you’ll need to attend classes at set times, and the rest of your life will have to revolve around your studies. This might work well for someone right out of high school, or someone with no other responsibilities who can fully dedicate themselves to their learning, but it’s not right for everyone.

The advent of online learning has meant that more people than ever before are able to become nurses. They can learn in a place and at a time that suits them, and even if it takes them longer to gain their qualification, they can still earn it, and that’s what matters. They can earn it while still working full-time, while still taking care of their family, while still doing all the things that would have to be sacrificed if they went back to school instead of if they chose online learning. Because of this, there are many opportunities for people, including working abroad somewhere such as Thailand.

It’s a Calling

For some people, there really is no choice in the matter. They feel they are being called to be a nurse, and as strange as that might seem to someone who has not experienced it, it essentially means that there is nothing else they can see themselves doing; nursing is all they want and it’s what they focus on.

This combined with the flexibility of the job, the online learning aspect meaning it is open to more people than ever, the pay rates and the career progression paths (of which there are many) mean that nursing adds up to being the ideal profession to work towards and in.

A guide to becoming an ex-pat nurse in Thailand | News by The Thaiger

Why Thailand?

We can easily see why people might want to become a nurse, and why those nurses are needed all around the world, but why choose Thailand? Here are some of the reasons:

  • The People

Simply put, the people of Thailand are welcoming and friendly. You will feel at home not because of the scenery (which is unlike anything you will have seen before), but because of the people who are surrounding you. As much as gorgeous sandy beaches and a stunning climate are great, if the people you’re with aren’t friendly, you won’t want to stay. In Thailand you can have the views, the beaches, and the people too. It’s ideal.

  • Mental Health and Fitness

When you are a nurse, you need to take care of yourself. You need to ensure your mental health is kept in check because you are going to be experiencing traumas along with your patients, and you need to remain physically fit because nursing is a physically demanding job. Being in Thailand can help you achieve both aims thanks to its clean air (out of the cities, at least) and a vast range of different physical activities to take part in. It’s a country that offers a great quality of life.

  • The Cost

If you’re looking for a simple life that doesn’t cost very much but offers a great deal in return, look into going to Thailand and working as a nurse. Your skills and qualifications will be much needed, and you can live on a fraction of the budget that you would at home. Granted, the salaries are lower too, to reflect the cost of living, but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the less expensive and more meaningful existence that Thailand can offer you because of it.

Nursing in Thailand

Now that you know a little more about why moving to Thailand is a good idea (although please do your own research too – it’s crucial you’re armed with all the information you could need before making such a big move), and why nurses are needed there, you might be tempted to go. After all, even if you only do it for a year or so, it’s an experience like no other, and it’s something you’ll never forget. Read on to find out how to go about making this change.

  • Can It Be Done?

To begin with, you’ll need to know whether or not taking on a nursing position in Thailand is possible. As mentioned above, Thailand is protective of its professions, and likes to keep as many jobs for Thai-born people as possible. This seems only fair; it needs to keep its economy going. Professions such as agriculture, beauty, working with metals and precious stones, construction, driving, tour guiding, and making clothes are all out of reach for ex-pats. Nursing, however, is not. In fact, Thailand welcomes foreign nurses because there is a shortage of trained nurses in the country. Although do bear in mind that there are still some hurdles to jump over, and it’s not as easy as simply arriving in the country and walking into a hospital with your resume.

  • Speaking the Language

Although it’s not a pre-requisite as such, you’ll find you stand a much better chance of getting a job in a Thai hospital if you speak the language, or at least enough to be able to get by when talking to patients. Although you might find that doctors, other nurses, and clinical professionals do speak English because they’ve been educated to do so, normal local Thai people probably won’t, and it’s these people who, as a nurse, you’ll be trying to help most of the time. Speaking Thai will be a definite advantage.

  • Look for an Agency

The best thing you can do when you’re looking at the idea of moving to Thailand to be a nurse is to join an agency specifically for that purpose. When you do this, you’ll know that every potential job opening is a genuine one, and that all due diligence is carried out to ensure your safety and your happiness. No one wants to move many thousands of miles away only to find they’re not happy and they want to go home again.

  • Qualifications

Just like in any country, you need specific nursing qualifications to be a nurse in Thailand. You won’t be able to bypass any tests or be able to practice nursing until you have achieved at least RN status. Of course, once you arrive there is nothing to stop you from learning more, gaining additional qualifications such as an FNP, so that you can progress within the nursing field – online learning will facilitate this and you can make the most of your time and your career opportunities by having higher qualifications.

  • Work Permit

Even if you have all the qualifications and you’re part of an agency to help you find a suitable position, you are going to need the right work permits before you can obtain work in Thailand. To do this, you must apply for a visa, and this is done through the consulate, or the Royal Thai Embassy. Documents you need for this are: a passport (in date and valid), your non-immigration visa, all the evidence of your nursing qualifications including licenses, and your departure card.

Although if you’re traveling from the US you are technically exempt from requiring a visa until you have been in Thailand for 30 days (after which you do need one), if you’re planning on staying for a while, it makes sense to get this document sooner rather than later. You don’t want to be delayed in applying and then find you’re unable to work until it is obtained or, worse, that you have to leave the country altogether.

Once you have your visa, you then must apply for a nursing permit. You’ll need all the documents listed above, and you’ll need to take a test to confirm that you are competent and have the knowledge required to be a nurse in Thailand.

Is There Demand for Nurses in Thailand?

Before you go through the long application process and join an agency to become a nurse in Thailand, before you pack up everything you own and say goodbye to your friends and family, it’s a good idea to ensure you’ll be able to find a job when you arrive. The question that needs to be asked and answers is: is there is a demand for nurses in Thailand?

The answer is simple: yes. As mentioned above, the nursing shortage in Thailand means that nurses are definitely, desperately needed in the country, and this is why the barriers to employment have been reduced so significantly. Before the Alien Employment Act that was created in 2015, it was hard for non-nationals to become nurses in Thailand. When this act was passed and more people could come to the country, the pressure on the health service was reduced significantly, and this is why foreign nurses are still welcome now.

A guide to becoming an ex-pat nurse in Thailand | News by The Thaiger

Things to Think About

Despite the fact that Thailand is a stunning place to live, and it will soothe your soul when you’re there, nurses aren’t paid a great deal – this is one of the reasons for the shortage. On average, a nurse will earn around 80,500 THB a month, which is about $2,700. However, the more degrees you have, the better; high nursing salaries can be as much as 127,000 THB, which is roughly $4,200.

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Thai herb studied for alternative Covid-19 treatment

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Thai herb studied for alternative Covid-19 treatment | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Thai Herb "Fah Talai Jone"

A study on the efficacy of a Thai herb for treating Covid-19 will move forward after a trial which alternative medicine officials say had promising results. Although, the trial was basic and only involved 6 people.

Initial results show that the herb “andrographis paniculata,” or “fah talai jone” in Thai, can improve patients’ conditions and relieve symptoms without major side effects.

The second phase of the study aims to confirm whether the herb is efficient and safe in treating the patients alongside standard treatment, according to the Department of Thai Traditional and Alternative Medicine.

Following the new wave of infections last month, the department teamed up with Samut Prakan Hospital to launch a pilot study, but just on 6 patients. The 6 Covid-19 patients were given 180 grammes of the herb extracts each day. By the third day, their conditions of cough, sore throat, phlegm, runny nose, muscle pain, and headache had gradually improved.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Efficacy of Covid-19 vaccines will drop during mass inoculations: Thai virologist

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Efficacy of Covid-19 vaccines will drop during mass inoculations: Thai virologist | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Siam Rath

Thai virologist Dr. Yong Poovorawan from Chulalongkorn University, has spoken about claims that the efficacy of every vaccine available today, including Covid-19 vaccines, tend to lower after being used in mass inoculations, compared to the findings from the laboratory during human testing trials.

He recommends that people should not rely solely on the vaccines alone because uncertainty will remain during the roll out phase of the new inoculations.

“The best way to protect themselves is to practice basic safety standards as we usually do today… wearing face masks all the time when going outside and in crowded venues, regularly washing hands, and maintain social distancing.”

On his Facebook page, Dr. Young cited the case of Hepatitis B vaccines that claimed between 94-95% efficacy. But after use on mass populations, its efficacy dropped to about 80%. He believes this trend will be the same as Covid-19 vaccines.

“Although the manufacturers claim the vaccines’ high efficacy, that is just the laboratory results. In practice, several variables may cause lower effectiveness of the vaccines.”

He also says that the real effectiveness of Covid-19 vaccines, both the American from Pfizer and the Chinese from Sinopharm will be known soon after the populations of Israel and UAE have been inoculated in large numbers already.

SOURCE: Thai PBS World

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The race for a vaccine: who to look out for

Verlyn Ku

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The race for a vaccine: who to look out for | The Thaiger

Background

COVID-19 is caused by SARS-CoV-2 from the coronavirus (CoV) family. CoVs are enveloped, positive-stranded RNA viruses with nucleocapsid, including the SARS-CoV of 2003 and MERS-CoV of 2012. CoVs generally cause respiratory illnesses that could also affect other organs, and those infected have a 2 – 14 day latency period, where patients are asymptomatic. This has made it much harder to quickly detect and prevent its spread. As such, most countries have started implementing contact tracing, which is mostly comprehensive around the world now as seen below.

The race for a vaccine: who to look out for | News by The Thaiger

Source: Our World in Data

The fight against COVID-19 (Thailand)

The director of the World Health Organisation is praising Thailand for being a successful model of Covid-19 containment. This is a result of over 40 years of investments by past and present governments to improve the public health infrastructure, including recruiting public health volunteers. Thailand has initially appeared to have escaped the worst of the viruses, with fewer than 4000 cases in November 2020.

However, there was a sudden outbreak at a large seafood market in December 2020 and in order to curb the possibility of a ‘second wave’ of infection, the government has instituted nationwide restrictions and closures will go into effect from Jan 4 to Feb 1. Public schools will be shut down for two weeks, and among those businesses affected are bars, nightclubs, boxing stadiums, cockfighting rings, massage parlours, and gyms. This will be a partial lockdown to prevent the new surge of infections. Shopping malls, restaurants, beauty salons, swimming pools and public parks remain open with strict social distancing guidelines, but these guidelines may be tightened in areas like Bangkok and other large provinces.

What is a vaccine?

A vaccine is a type of medicine that stimulates a person’s immune system to produce antibodies against the virus. There are various types of vaccines, as shown in the table below, with some types still in development.

The race for a vaccine: who to look out for | News by The Thaiger

Interestingly, prior to the COVID-19 vaccines, there are no approved mRNA or DNA vaccines, and neither has ever been tested in a large-scale clinical trial for an infectious disease. This COVID crisis has been a great opportunity for these technologies to be pushed.

Types of Vaccines available

As of 3rd January 2021, there are three COVID-19 vaccine candidates that have been approved by various countries. The US Food and Drug Association (FDA) has approved Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna, while the UK has approved the AstraZeneca vaccine as well. The Thailand government, on the other hand, now expects to take delivery of 2 million doses of a COVID-19 vaccine potentially as early as February. Thailand has also signed a deal with AstraZeneca to purchase 52 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine. Furthermore, private hospitals in the Kingdom are given permission to purchase their own vaccine supplies, as long as the vaccine is approved by the Food and Drug Administration of Thailand.

There are currently more than 50 COVID-19 vaccine candidates in trials worldwide, which are undergoing large-scale (Phase 3) clinical trials before allowed to be approved for use.

Pfizer Vaccine

The first vaccine candidate against the virus was developed by Pfizer and BioNTech. On 31st December, the World Health Organization listed Pfizer and BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use. Clinical trials show it to be more than 90% effective in preventing COVID-19 in participants without evidence of prior SARS-CoV-2 infection in the first interim efficacy analysis.

Moderna Vaccine

The second vaccine approved by the FDA is developed by Moderna and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID).

AstraZeneca Vaccine

The third vaccine approved for use in the UK is the Oxford-AstraZeneca, also made in the UK. The UK Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) has authorised two full doses of the Oxford vaccine, with the second dose to be given four to 12 weeks after the first. A Bangkok-based Siam Bioscience signed an agreement with AstraZeneca in late November to make 200 million doses of the British pharmaceutical firm’s COVID-19 vaccine. This agreement will facilitate technology transfer to increase the production of the AstraZeneca vaccine. The Thailand government will secure 26 million doses of the vaccine for the locals, and more than half of this 200 million doses will be exported overseas.

CoronaVac Vaccine

This vaccine originates from Sinovac Biotech in China and contains inactivated COVID-19 viruses. Similar to its AstraZeneca counterpart, it can be stored in a standard refrigerator at 2-8 degrees Celsius. This is advantageous for use in developing countries which might not be able to store large amounts of vaccine at such low temperatures. Thailand will receive its first Covid-19 vaccines in February from Sinovac Biotech, numbering 200,000 doses. These first vaccines will go to the medical professionals, and will be given to the rest of the population in descending order of priority when the next 800,000 and one million doses of the Sinovac vaccine arrives by March and April respectively.

Comparison of the three approved vaccines

The race for a vaccine: who to look out for | News by The Thaiger
As with all vaccines,
possible side effects of both COVID-19 vaccines are injection site pain, fatigue, headache, muscle pain, and joint pain. This is not unique to the COVID-19 vaccine, as these side effects are common across vaccines, which is simply an indication that the immune system is active and producing antibodies to fight the unknown pathogens.

Vaccine Side-Effects

No long-term side effects have been recorded, but observations are still ongoing as the first batches of vaccines are rolled out. As for pregnant or lactating mothers, preliminary animal studies show no signs of harm to the mother or fetus, but this is yet to be tested in humans.

But regardless, it is not a cause for concern, because before the screening for COVID-19 vaccines before use is a very rigorous process. Before vaccines can be delivered, the vaccines must be proven safe and effective in large (phase 3) clinical trials. Afterwards, there is a series of independent reviews and an external expert panel convened by WHO to analyse other risk factors for disease. Officials in individual countries decide whether to approve the vaccines for national use and develop policies for how to use the vaccines in their country based on the WHO recommendations.

Who gets the vaccine first?

COVAX is the vaccines pillar of the Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator of the WHO. The COVAX Facility ensures global equitable access to a vaccine, particularly protecting health care workers and those most-at-risk. Only then can we mitigate the public health and economic impact of the pandemic.

Country-wide, individual governments have their own system of allocation, while following the WHO’s guidelines for vaccine distribution. Generally, the tiering system is as follows:

  1. Healthcare workers
  2. Care home residents, people over 80
  3. People over 50, young adults with health conditions
  4. All other residents

Herd Immunity

Herd immunity is a concept that if enough people get vaccinated, the population will be better protected since the virus cannot spread as quickly. Given the high transmissibility of the virus, coupled with the high latency period of 14 days for symptoms to appear, curbing the spread of the virus is essential.

The race for a vaccine: who to look out for | News by The Thaiger

Source: UC Davis

What else should we do, apart from vaccines?

While the vaccine will reduce one’s likelihood of getting ill and afterwards hospitalized, there is still no confirmation yet whether being vaccinated prevents someone from transmitting the virus. Hence, those who have already got the vaccine should still wear masks and practice physical distancing, to prevent the virus from spreading airborne.

The virus can and will likely undergo mutation, creating what we call a new virus mutant or strain. This occurs via recombination, when a virus spontaneously mutates its surface antigens, or when multiple viruses infect a single organism, and during the reproduction process, the genomes of two viruses combine. This means that great precaution still needs to be taken, and there is no telling whether we would see a mutated COVID-19 strain.

 

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