Demand for RP nurses overseas slowing down

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Demand for RP nurses overseas slowing down

Post by Admin on Thu Jul 10, 2008 10:50 am

Demand for RP nurses overseas slowing down
By Katherine Evangelista, Kristine L. Alave
INQUIRER.net, Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 19:37:00 07/08/2008

Inquirer.net

MANILA, Philippines -- Filipinos aspiring to jump on the nursing bandwagon should think twice because the once burgeoning demand overseas has begun to wane, according to the Philippine Nurses Association (PNA).

“Many licensed nurses are now underemployed or unemployed as a result of changes of policy in destination-countries, the current situation of oversupply, and quality problems, among other things,” the PNA president, Dr. Leah Samaco-Paquiz, said in a press conference yesterday at the PNA headquarters in Manila.

The past few years have seen an exodus of Filipino nurses abroad to care for the aging baby-boomer population in the United States and the United Kingdom in exchange for higher pay and the possibility of gaining immigrant status.

Because of the great demand for Filipino nurses, colleges and universities have added nursing courses to their curricula to cash in on the wave.

According to Paquiz and other PNA officials, however, nursing is not a lucrative profession anymore and students who think they can use it as a passport to greener pastures abroad are seriously mistaken.

“Go into nursing for the right reasons. If you are thinking of going into nursing to be able to go abroad or because your family is pressuring you, then it is not the time,” said Josefina Tuazon, dean of the University of the Philippines’ College of Nursing.

“This is not a good time unless you go to a school that takes care of its graduates,” Tuazon said.

Plateau

For the past two years, the demand for nurses in key destinations like the United States and the United Kingdom has declined, Paquiz said.

“This started in 2006, when the demand for Philippine nurses [hit a plateau] due to US visa retrogression and UK policy change, which signaled the shift to [hiring] homegrown health workers instead of recruiting from overseas,” she said.

The Philippine market for nurses, meanwhile, is now “oversaturated” allowing employers to be “highly selective” in hiring healthcare providers, she said.

Because of the slowdown in overseas postings, the domestic market is now seeing a glut in nurses.

Fely Marilyn Lorenzo, head of the University of the Philippines’ Institute of Health Policy and Development Studies, said major hospitals like Philippine General Hospital and St. Luke’s Medical Center had a backlog of nursing applications and a waiting time of 6-12 months.

But the drop in overseas demand has neither stopped certain nursing schools from accepting enrollees nor dampened the enthusiasm of students to enter the profession, she said.

Lorenzo said that in 2006, 397,195 students graduated with a nursing degree, up from 296,000 in 2005.

St. Luke’s, for instance, still gets 30 applications daily, she said.

The PNA defended the new nursing curriculum being implemented by the Commission on Higher Education through Memorandum Order No. 5, saying it ensures a “safe, ethical and quality nursing practice.”

The group said the new curriculum will “improve the quality” of nursing education in the Philippines.

The CHEd order directs nursing schools nationwide to add new subjects and increase hospital hours for students. Nursing schools have begun implementing the new curriculum this school year.

Shortcut to profession

PNA officials blamed the “commercialization” of nursing for the oversupply of nurses and the promotion of the practical nursing course, which some schools describe as a shortcut to entering the profession.

The practical nursing course is not accredited in the Philippines and is equivalent to a vocational course, they said.

Lorenzo said the PNA was questioning the quality of practical nursing courses offered by some schools because no regulations had been set for such a course in the country.

In other countries, practical nurses work under the supervision of registered nurses. Some of them can be described as nursing assistants.

Lorenzo questioned the curriculum of the practical nursing program which, she said, includes subjects on how to operate microwave ovens and washing machines but does not have important subjects like anatomy and physiology.

According to the PNA, institutions advertising practical nursing as a way to work overseas are misleading students.

Paquiz said she had spoken with two practical nursing graduates who failed to get work in the United States, as had been promised by their school.

She read an excerpt from their letter: “Being a licensed practical nurse is definitely not a way to enter the US, as what is being claimed by practical nursing schools in the country. Like us and a relatively increasing number of fellow Philippine-educated [practical nurses], we cannot be issued working visas or immigrant visas by the US.”

CHEd’s failure

The PNA is opposed to CHEd’s plans to “ladderize” the BS Nursing program to accommodate the practical nursing course.

Paquiz said the “short cut nursing” program was irrelevant since there is no demand for practical nurses locally or abroad.

The PNA also lamented the failure of the Commission on Higher Education (CHEd) to close down mediocre nursing schools.

Lorenzo, citing a recent Commission on Audit report, said the CHEd had failed to close down even one fly-by-night school.

“Sadly, not one nursing school was closed by CHEd. We think some of these schools are very active in false ads,” she said.
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