Nurses' group confirms 'fees'-A A +A
Monday, January 24, 2011
DAVAO CITY -- The Philippine Nurses Association (PNA) in Davao admitted it has been receiving complaints about training fees demanded by some hospitals in exchange for experience certificates for nurses.
However, the PNA also clarified that there are hospitals accredited to offer training courses in specialized fields, and these require training fees.
Roger P. Tong-An, PNA governor of the board, said they have been receiving complaints but those complaining have not done these formally, nor have they identified the hospitals responsible.
"These nurses should name names and I assure them that their identities will be kept confidential," Tong-An said.
He said, however, that the complainants should know the difference between the post-graduate programs offered by hospitals to nurses who want to specialize, which require training fees, and the alleged practice of some hospitals that use these paying nurses as regular staff nurses and do not pay them any salary.
"We are not against hospitals that have real training programs for nurses in a specialized field, kasi legal yan, because those are post-graduate courses that they really needed, but some hospitals are using these nurses to augment their staffing needs," he added.
From what he has been apprised of, Tong-An said some hospitals offer training programs and yet the nurses undergoing training are made to report for work and are given rotating schedules without pay.
"We are planning to have these hospitals punished if they are still not going to stop doing this," Tong-An said.
According to him, hospitals have to apply with the Board of Nursing to offer programs for specialization. A set of requirements have to be complied with as well. The board will then decide whether to approve the application.
During the Arroyo administration, he said, the Executive Order 897 that allows the recognition of registered nurses' training and practice as equivalent hospital work experience for employment purposes was pushed and immediately took effect in June 2010.
But the unscrupulous have turned this into a disadvantage for the nurses, many of whom are just too willing to pay for the experience certificates.
"We have been fighting for this for a long time already. After several presidents of the country, its seems our prayers will be answered now," he said in Filipino, referring to a Senate inquiry spearheaded by Senator Pia Cayetano, who sought professional associations to submit and present the nurses' complaints in order for the Senate to take action on this matter.
Tong-An advised nurses not to resort to this kind of practice in getting a certificate of employment and to fight for their rights instead.
No volunteer nurses
Meanwhile, Southern Philippine Medical Center (SPMC) chief Dr. Leopoldo Vega said they do not accept volunteer nurses in their hospital, although SPMC is a hospital that offers specialized training for nurses.
"We train these nurses because we want them to enhance their skills, because there is a big difference between being in the academe and being a clinical nurse. We want them to be quality and competent nurses," Vega said.
The training is structured, modular and is time-bound, where supervisors from the hospital follow their every step toward becoming efficient and proficient nurses.
"A new graduate nurse and a new board passer will be lost in the real world, that is why our training will help them acquire proficiency that we can be proud of," Vega said.
He added that an on-the-job training for students in an office is much different from training in a hospital.
"The medical world is more complex. We cannot permit nurses with no skills because this is a very sensitive field and we are taking care of people's lives and mistakes are irreversible," he said.
Uncalculated mistakes can cost a life. Wrong dosage of medicine can be fatal for patients. There is a big divide between a new-graduate nurse and medical practitioners--that is why the hospital offers the paramedical enhancement skills training, he added.
He said the fees they collect from the trainees are used to defray some expenses incurred by the infirmary during their training, like certificates of training completion, office supplies and room accommodation, along with the payment for electricity consumption and other medical equipment used for the training.
The training fees range from P1,500 to P2,000 for nurses who wish to be trained in the ward and P2,500 to P3,000 for trainees in the ER, delivery rooms and the surgical departments of the hospital.
The training is from three to four months. The trainees' performances are regularly being evaluated and they also have to pass aptitude tests.
"Trainings that are not time-bound and do not have a curriculum is a different story, and nurses made to work without salary is exploitation," Vega said.
He is urging every board passer to take enhancement courses to update their skills to be proficient in the medical field that they have chosen.
OJT and staff nurses
While the nurses' skills training in SPMC was explained by the chief of hospital, some nurses who went through the training still have something to say about the fees collected.
"Dili na dapat sila magkolekta kay mao lang gihapon ang trabaho sa mga naga-OJT ug sa mga nagatrabaho didto (SPMC should not impose fees, as the job of an on-the-job trainee is just similar to that of a regular nurse)," said Rhea Aguilar, a nurse at SPMC.
"There should be no fees asked from trainees because it is an advantage for them. They do not need more people to hire because of the trainees. Their workload also will be lessened because there are a lot of trainees that can help them take care of patients, not unlike before--the ratio is 1:20, one nurse for twenty patients," one Sheril Carongay Bagaslao, a nurse and a former member of the PNA here, said.
Sun.Star tried to get in touch with Tess Magno, human resource officer of San Pedro Hospital, but failed.
In earlier reports, the Department of Health and the Commission on Higher Education are looking for ways to give accreditations to hospitals that provide training for nurses. (Carmelle Marie Harrow of Sun.Star Davao)
Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on January 25, 2011.