Group lauds government action on nurse shortage

Helen Flores - The Philippine Star
Group lauds government action on nurse shortage
Third year nursing students of University of Perpetual Help System receive their caps and pins during the university's 43rd thanksgiving and commitment rites at Ernesto Crisostomo Palanca Hall in Las Piñas City on June 21, 2023
STAR / Edd Gumban

MANILA, Philippines — Various public-private programs of the government have addressed the shortage of nurses in the country, according to the Private Sector Advisory Council (PSAC)-Healthcare Sector Group, calling it a “quick win” for the government.

The Clinical Care Associates (CCA) Upskilling Program – a collaboration of the government and the private sector launched last year – has produced around 300 graduates, PSAC Health Sector lead Paolo Borromeo said during a meeting at Malacañang on Thursday.

He said the 300 CCAs have already been hired by various hospitals all over the country.

“That’s an instant addition to our nursing population,” Borromeo said.

He said the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) has also allocated P20 million for the board reviews of 1,000 CCAs this year.

As of Feb. 20, there are 304 CCAs enrolled in both private and public hospitals, Borromeo said.

“So instantly we have a thousand just like that. So I characterized that as a big win,” Borromeo said.

About 7,000 to 10,000 nursing students graduate in the country every year, Borromeo said.

He said CCA recruitment would continue for the nursing board examination this November, adding that PSAC would also roll out the program for the 2025 board examinations.

The program is being implemented by the PSAC along with the Department of Health, CHED and the Private Hospitals Association of the Philippines to facilitate employment for underboard nursing students.

Students will become CHED-certified and are qualified to work as CCAs in health care industries under the program.

Borromeo also cited the Enhanced Master’s Nursing Program aimed at producing more nursing instructors in the country.

Under the program, the three-year Master’s Nursing Program was shortened by CHED to just one year to enable those who graduate from the program to be eligible to teach.

PSAC is eyeing to roll out the master’s program starting academic year 2024-2025 in 16 higher education institutions, he said.

Borromeo said PSAC is also pushing for a pilot memorandum of understanding with Austria through the help of the Department of Migrant Workers and the Department of Foreign Affairs.

Under the MOU, the Austrian government will provide scholarships, faculty support as well as back the adopt-a-school/hospital scheme.

Other PSAC initiatives include the Underboard Certificate Programs, Balik Nurse Campaign and the National HRH Masterplan.

Borromeo said discussions are ongoing between Technical Education and Skills Development Authority and CHED for the Underboard Certificate Programs, while the advisory body still has to define the program specifics for the Balik Nurse Campaign and would explore pilot launch in the Middle East.

During the 4th PSAC Health Sector Group meeting at Malacañang last September, the President directed concerned government agencies to work with PSAC on their various initiatives and recommendations to address the shortage of nurses in the country.

According to reports, nurse shortage in the Philippines has reached 127,000 and is expected to more than double to 250,000 by 2030.

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