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Filipino nurses still rule the roost in US

Jose Katigbak (The Philippine Star) - September 28, 2008 - 12:00am

WASHINGTON – Their influx into the United States may be leveling off or in decline according to anecdotal evidence, but Filipino nurses still rule the roost when it comes to patient satisfaction.

Health professionals are in great demand in the US and the Department of Health and Human Services calculates that by 2020 the country will need about 2.9 million nurses but will only have 1.8 million, a shortfall of 1.1 million.

Filipino or Filipino-American nurses are the best ambassadors of the Philippines because the impact of their quality care is immediate and there are many of them spread in the thousands across the US.

There are current indications that some nurses from the Philippines are not as eager to come to America as before because of the lure of other countries, which pay in euros, tighter US immigrations rules, coupled with the fall of the dollar and tougher competition from other ethnic groups.

As a result of continuing overseas demand, the Philippines produces more nurses than ever but many nursing schools are no more than diploma mills, said Alice Andam who hails from Misamis Occidental and is head of the metropolitan Washington DC chapter of the Philippine Nurses Association of America.

She said she has noticed that more nurses who come from the Philippines now are less proficient in English than they used to be and even more worrying, less experienced.

“They would be better off staying back for a year at least after graduation to polish their Taglish to English and gain practical bedside experience,” she said.

Andam, however, admits she cannot blame new graduates from wanting to immigrate immediately to the United States to start earning dollars.

Between 12,000 and 15,000 nurses and other medical professionals reportedly leave the Philippines each year for better-paying jobs abroad. Many end up in the United States.

Though the value of the dollar has dropped to the peso in recent years – from P55 to P46 to the dollar – it is still attractive to work in the US.

Nurses generally work 12 hours a day, three days a week pulling in about $25 an hour or between $45,000 and $50,000 annually. With overtime they can easily make $60,000 a year, 10 to 15 times what they make in the Philippines.

ALICE ANDAM ANDAM DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES DOLLAR FILIPINO MISAMIS OCCIDENTAL NURSES PHILIPPINE NURSES ASSOCIATION OF AMERICA PHILIPPINES TAGLISH UNITED STATES
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