Filipino Healthcare Workers

"A Private Practice for This Doctor"

Titled "A Private Practice for This Doctor," this article details the career and legacy of Fayola "Fe" Mendiola, a pediatric resident at Children's Medial Center in Dallas.

From the 1950s onward, Filipinos from more financially stable families began immigrating to Texas in search of work — particularly those who had studied either medicine or nursing during their time in The Philippines. One of the first Filipino physicians to have immigrated to Texas was Dr. James Diamonon, who first encountered the Houston climate and allegedly thought, My God, I'm in The Philippines!  Nearly two hundred miles away, another physician named Dr. Fayola "Fe" Mendiola served as the only woman of ten pediatric residents at Children's Medical Center in Dallas. In a 1959 article for Dallas Morning News, author Mary Brinkerhoff describes Dr. Mendiola's family life and her memories of Japanese occupation in The Philippines.

While Filipino physicans were a valuable part of Texas hospitals, they were not nearly as abundant as Filipino nurses. This population of Filipino Texans faced a variety of obstacles in securing employment in the United States. In the early 1970s, many Filipino nurses were unable to pass their Texas board exams due to the vast differences between nursing education curriculums in The Philippines and the U.S. And since the State of Texas refused to grant these individuals temporary nursing lisences or proper study resources, the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) stopped issuing H-1 visas to foreign nurses seeking employment in Texas. The Texas Hospital Association protested this decision heavily, claiming that the loss of foreign nurses would be "catastrophic for Texas hospitals." After months of lobbying efforts, the INS revoked its action — and the number of Filipino nurses in Texas hospitals increased significantly. Some well-established Filipino nurses even began recruiting other nurses from The Philippines, inviting recruits to stay at their houses upon arrival.