International nurses reunited

An international nursing recruitment by Epworth HealthCare has led to a chance reunion, between two mates, rekindling their 20 years friendship.

In the early 2000s, Cary Bognalbal and Mik Bonto formed a close friendship when they studied nursing together in the Philippines.

Although they were in different years, they came together in the college’s chess club.

“I love playing chess and we went to the same chess club at college and that’s how we met,’ Cary said.

“For us, chess was a way to socialise. We met a lot of friends playing chess and went to other schools to compete.”

After graduating, they went their separate ways, 16 years ago, Mik migrated to Melbourne and he joined Epworth in 2021. Cary worked in the Philippines for almost a decade, then he nursed in the United Kingdom for the next two years, before answering an international recruitment ad to work at Epworth Richmond.

“Epworth sponsored me to come to Melbourne and I have a working visa to work at Epworth Richmond,” Cary said.

In a bizarre coincidence, they didn’t just end up working in the same city, or at the same hospital. They were rostered to work together in the same orthopaedic ward at Epworth Richmond!

Once Cary had his first roster, he was surprised to see Mik’s name and immediately sent him a message.

“Mik confirmed he was working in the same orthopaedic ward. I was shocked and surprised that we would be in the same ward. But of course, also happy.”

Mik said he couldn’t believe it.

“I haven’t seen him for nearly two decades and to reconnect again is exciting.”

Cary said when they first caught up in Melbourne, discussion of chess soon followed.

“Mik invited me to his house and when I arrived, he asked if I wanted to play chess. We are now looking at playing in local tournaments,” Cary said.

Mik says chess and nursing have similarities.

“Both nursing and chess are similar. You use your analytical skills and problem solving too.”

Cary says he has fallen in love with Melbourne.

“I love Melbourne and I love the sun. Melbourne has amazing people and it is an amazing city”.

In 2022, Epworth HealthCare recruited more than 850 nurses and midwives. 51 registered nurses, including Cary, were recruited from overseas.

Careers at Epworth

Future employees

We value our people and their careers. We care about giving our people support and flexibility to thrive and contribute. Come join us.