All finished but nowhere to go?
THAT DOES IT - Korina Sanchez (The Freeman) - June 30, 2014 - 12:00am

The results of the most recent nursing board exams are out, and the country has eleven thousand, two hundred plus new nurses. Nine of the Top Ten placers come from the University of Santo Tomas, which I'm sure is making the university proud, as it should. The families of those who passed are celebrating, especially the proud parents who worked hard to give their children the education they need to make it in this world. But once the celebrations are over and the euphoria has died down, the question must be asked. Do these new nurses have jobs to go to? The celebration may be short-lived. 

There still exists a glut in the nursing profession, where there are more nurses than hospitals or clinics for them to work in. While the schools churn out graduates every year, we do not see an increase in the number of hospitals or clinics to accommodate them. I believe the only centers opening are dialysis centers because of the growing number of end stage renal disease cases in the country. But you need specialized nurses for that, which translates to more time training. Something most nursing graduates do not have the luxury of. So most end up in call centers, while waiting for doors to open.

It doesn't help that most hospitals and clinics are also picky when it comes to hiring nurses. They would prefer nurses who have graduated from the more recognizable colleges like UP and UST, or at least from colleges based in Metro Manila. Discrimination does exist even in this profession. There may be a glut of nurses, but nurses are sorely needed in other parts of the country, not just in Metro Manila or the other big cities. The trouble is that aside from location, salary comes into play when looking for a job, and the rural areas just cannot match that of Metro Manila, what more of other countries.

Which brings us to working abroad. But gone are the good old days when the US was hiring foreign nurses left and right. Even doctors with practices in Metro Manila took nursing courses to be able to work in the US for much better compensation and working environment. But that has stopped in its tracks. And while nurses are still needed in the US, there is no telling when the hiring of foreign nurses will commence.

There are countries that are open to foreign nurses, but these are the non-English speaking countries like those in the Middle East and Japan. An obvious problem with communication exists, which may be a minor issue. But most of these hospitals or health centers require applicants to have at least two years working experience here before even applying. With the glut, that is hard to achieve. Some hospitals charge nurses to train with them, giving them the two years they need. But again, money is something not all graduates have the luxury of as well.

It would be nice if the country could absorb all its graduates and employ them all over the country, with decent wages for them to no longer entertain working abroad. But that is a dream for all Filipinos, not just the new nursing graduates. A dream that is well beyond our reach.


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