The Australian Filipina takes great pride in highlighting kababayans who are doing great work that benefits the Fil-Aus and the wider community, as well as whose achievements give inspiration to our readers.

It is great to collaborate with organisations to connect with their officers and members who fall in this category.  One of these organisations is FiND, which stands for the Filipino Nursing Diaspora (FiND) Network is a group that is on the rise and with great vision of extending help, up-skilling, empowering, and inspiring Filipino Nurses around the world.  FiND's Executive Director, Jerome Babate has been instrumental in introducing us to our achievers.

One of the exemplary FiND research officers is CJ Cabilan who was born in Cebu. CJ is the eldest of four siblings and completed her primary and secondary education there.  She has been in Australia permanently since 2006 where she completed her nursing and research degrees. She now works as a nurse researcher in one of the best emergency departments in Australia. Her current passion is leading a developing research programme on occupational violence.

*What made you decide to come to Australia and what was the process of you migrating to Australia?

My parents decided for us to live in Australia permanently from 2006. I think they grew tired, probably costly for them too, of flying us over during the long summer break during 1998-1999. I wasn’t heavily involved in the process to be honest; but I felt their frustrations during and the wait.

*What would you consider to be the best parts and achievements of coming to Australia?  

 Two notable experiences: first is the infrastructure for research; second ismentorship.

 I had the opportunity to complete my Master of Philosophy for less than $100 per semester as a domestic student. I’m currently doing my Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) for around the same amount, where I get to complete a research programme and advance my research skills under the mentorship of established experts in nursing and research.

*On the flip side, what difficulties and challenges did you face and overcome?

 My biggest challenge was the “I’m just a nurse” nursing culture. It was self-limiting. When I was in that mindset, I saw myself as incapable, irrelevant, and invisible. However,I was able to overcome that by shifting the way I saw myself; the way I perceived nurses’ role in health care.

 We nurses are a big deal. We form the largest health workforce. We spend more time with patients. We are vital decision-makers in patients’ care.

 As soon as I shifted from “I’m just a nurse” to “I am a nurse” - I felt capable to lead. I had the motivation to make a change and to innovate. 

* If you are able to change something you experienced or you did in the past, what would they be? What else do you wish to achieve in life/your profession?

 I have a different outlook than most. Yes, I’ve made boo-boos (mistakes); but for me, regrettable experiences, errors of judgment, or failures are necessary steps. No, I would not change anything.

 Let’s use an analogy. If you think of products on the market today, they were preceded by prototypes. Reflecting on my experiences, I needed those flawed versions of myself to figure out who I need to be and what I want to be known for. 

I desire for permanency of the occupational violence research programme I am leading. To use the tip of the iceberg analogy, the tip is the occupational violence in emergency departments; the sunken part of the iceberg is the societal and organisational determinants of violence. I’m just at the tip of it.

* What positions you have held in Australia and brief description of what they entail?  

Two roles: first as a clinical nurse, then as a research officerAs a clinical nurse I was working in a general surgical ward; then, I got into chronic pain nursing.

 My current focus is on nursing research, so I’ve had to put my clinical on hold. As a research officer, simply put, I help put the evidence in evidence-based nursing. That entails being a wrecking ball that breaks barriers of innovation; the bridge that links between evidence and practice; and a mentor to those wanting to do research.

 To your readers who are nurses, please follow my Instagram page @researchmate_info  In this page, I share my knowledge, nursing-relevantstudy findingsto help promote evidence-based nursing, and highlight occupational violence against nurses.

*What research work article that had been published and the main topic/subject of  your Doctor of Philosophy studies?

 As a research officer I get to study different topics, but my passion is occupational violence. Occupational violence is a major issue in health care particularly for nurses and in our emergency departments. We think that nurses are at risk because we spend more time with patients; but I also think that it is so because there are more nurses who are women. Essentially, I am arguing that there is an aspect of gendered violence.

Nurses get verbally abused on a daily basis. About 1 in 5 nurses have been physically assaulted at work. Irrespective of verbal or physical violence, it impacts nurses’ well-being and their productivity.The frequency of occupational violence and its impacts are the impetus for my work on prevention.

For my PhD, I co-developed a brief, digital risk assessment tool with the nurses so we can proactively manage patients who are at potentially violent in emergency departments. Through this tool and a coordinated management plan, we would be able to prevent occupational violence incidents and mitigate its detrimental impacts. The tool will be operational on Dec 7, 2021.

 A follow-up study will be conducted to evaluate how it changes occupational violence incidents and other important clinical outcomes. I received the Queensland Advancing Clinical Research Fellowship for this work as well. I am pretty motivated, but more so that there is commitment to fund for the project.

* What advice would you give kababayans who maybe having difficulties in settling in their new home country or in their studies?  

I have two. First, find a good mentor who can motivate you.

 Second, find someone who disagrees with you. Disagreements allow you to think more analytically and reason better. 

*Lastly, how do you define success?

I like to borrow from Dale Carnegie, who I share a birthday with. I quote him, “Success is getting what you want”.  Right now, I want nothing more than a safer workplace for my colleagues. In that respect, I cannot say I am successful yet, I’m just getting started. 

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CJ's interview by Radio Tagumpay is being aired on Triple H 100.1 FM, on Monday, December 6, 2021.  Radio Tagumpay airs on Mondays, 2-4pm and can be streamed at real time here.  

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