WHAT is really the status of registered nurses or nursing graduates in the Philippines the past years?
For a start, nursing graduates and registered nurses are rapidly growing in a large number every year. As a result, these nurses cannot be guaranteed a job as a staff nurse in a hospital. Some are even underemployed and some tend to take on another career path.
Since June 2010 until June 2013, Philippines has produced 468,373 nurses, 59.73 percent or 279,160 are nursing graduates and 40.27 percent or 188,613 are registered nurses.
Since 2001, the Philippines has produced over 1,000,000 nurses. Most of these nurses are unemployed, underemployed, or chose another career path.
As we see it, there is a huge surplus of nurses in our country today, leading to unemployment and underemployment of nurses.
Jas Jarine Joyce, a registered nurse since December 2012 who is currently employed as a nurse in their province at Jose Abad Santos, expressed that the cause of this surplus is the decreasing demand for nurses and the increasing population of nurses in the country.
Philippine Nurses Association (PNA) vice president for program and development Patrick Simon Soria stated that there is really a huge surplus of nurses in the country, but he also expressed that the surplus of nurses who are in the unemployed ranks of the country still has a shot of earning their needed finances.
"The Professional Regulations Commission (PRC) and the Department of Labor and Employment (Dole) in partnership with the PNA are finding ways in really helping out these nurses in finding jobs and we have conducted several programs, like entrepreneurship, and we'll be partnered with Dole in launching an entrepreneurship program for nurses wherein they will be able to find alternative means of earning their needed finances," Soria explained.
The most common reason why there is a surplus of nurses in the Philippines is either the number of high school graduates that are willing to take the risk to take up Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) as their course in college or they were being forced by their parents to take up this course, but it’s more of the latter.
Eduardo Hapitan III, a registered nurse since December 2012 who is currently unemployed, expressed that nursing was not his first choice for his collegiate studies.
"Due to the influence of the overwhelming rise in demands for nurses abroad some years ago, my parents saw the potential in it. Thus, they took the liberty of enrolling me in one of the best nursing schools in the region. Basically everything went according to how my parents planned it to be," Hapitan further expressed.
Still on the rising surplus of nurses after graduation, Jeffer Joy Orteza, a college student, expressed that the government should help these nurses find a job perfect for their chosen profession.
"I feel bad for them because I know how tiring it was for them as well to finish that course, not to mention the expenses. I just hope that the government could generate jobs for them at the hospitals and at a reasonable salary so all their knowledge and skills won't go to waste," Orteza expressed.
Another common reason for the heightened unemployment or underemployment rate of nurses here in the Philippines is the lack of hospitals to hire these nurses.
As estimated, right now there are about 2,300 hospitals in the country and every hospital can hire a hundred nurses, either being a volunteer nurse or a staff nurse, but not all of these hospitals can accommodate the ones who are counted in the surplus of nurses.
Online citizens have also expressed that the surplus of nurses continues to rise because the government is not willing to spend for the construction of new hospitals in the country, which leads to the increasing unemployment rates of nurses or underemployed nurses.
But Soria stated that it is not a hopeless case for nursing graduates and registered nurses, for they can still have options to find work.
First, Soria suggested that these nurses should join training programs in major hospitals, which can enhance the skills of professional nurses and are structured according to accepted standards of nursing and are organized by seasoned and highly experienced nurses in the clinical setting.
Next is to volunteer for medical and surgical missions, which can further enhance the skills of these nurses in the field with the help of experienced nurses to guide them along the way.
Another is to apply to as many hospitals as possible. When hospitals are in need of new nurses to fill in for the vacancies, grab that opportunity to apply and be sure to leave a good impression when submitting a resume to the Director of Nursing or Human.
Lastly, nurses could attend continuing education courses and seminars. Nurses could further enhance their capabilities and learn new skills to practice in preparation for their possible work as a staff nurse in the future.
Soria then expressed that it is not yet the end for nurses to give up in finding work and there is still a bright future waiting for those high school graduates planning to take up nursing in college. (Earl Jon Africa)