Pinoy nurses ‘sought-after’ in Australia

From left: Nick Zhang, Korene Abangan, Brenda Dore and Prince Lopez of EduX Training Center. /CONTRIBUTED
From left: Nick Zhang, Korene Abangan, Brenda Dore and Prince Lopez of EduX Training Center. /CONTRIBUTED

THE demand for Filipino nurses in Australia has steadily been rising as the country suffers from an aging population that needs professional care.

According to EduX Training Center chief executive officer (CEO) Prince Lopez, Filipino nurses remain a stand-out because of their strong educational background, excellent command of the English language and, more importantly, their naturally caring and hospitable nature.

“Whenever we get employers, they are looking specifically for Filipino nurses,” he said.

This prompted Lopez and three other Australian-based educators Brenda Dore, Korene Abangan and Nick Zhang to open EduX Training Center in Cebu to make reviews for the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX) and Objective Structured Clinical Examination (OSCE) accessible to Filipino nurses.

EduX Training Center is located in Krizia Building, along Gorordo Ave. Cebu City.

Besides NCLEX and OSCE reviews, the training center is also offering Certificate III in Individual Support (Ageing) program.

Lopez, who is now based in Australia, said what differentiates their school from others offering the same is the two-week boot camp in Australia for those taking OSCE. Filipino nurses will need to pass both NCLEX (theory part) and OSCE (practical part) to land jobs in Australia’s healthcare sector.

According to the University of Sydney, Australia is getting older, faster. By 2026, more than 22 percent of Australians will be aged over 65 — up 16 percent in 2020, which was already double the 8.3 percent at the start of the 1970s.

According to the Committee for Economic Development of Australia, Australia needs at least 110,000 aged care workers by 2030.

“There’s really a massive shortage of nurses and assistants in nursing (AIN). Also because these care workers are aging,” said Dore, adding that the average age of AINs in Australia is 40 years old.

In terms of salary rate, Australia is one of those that offer competitive compensation. The starting salary rate of AINs ranges from 55,000 to 65,000 AUD while nurses’ entry-level salary stands from 85,000 to 90,000 AUD per year.

Meanwhile, Certificate III in Individual Support (Ageing) is also another sought-after program.

“This is an Australian qualification delivered in the Philippines, of which graduates will gain leverage in terms of applying for international caregiving jobs,” Lopez explained.

Certificate III in Individual Support (Ageing) is a popular qualification in Australia that prepares individuals to work in aged care settings, providing person-centered support to older people.

According to Lopez, they can use this certification to work in other countries like the US and the United Kingdom, among others.

Other programs offered by EduX Training Center are job-ready programs, IELTS/ PTE Review, Professional Development Short Courses and Personal Development Short Courses.

Last year, Migrant Workers Secretary Susan Ople said there was a “huge” demand for Filipino nurses abroad.

But the exodus of nurses, numbering 316,415 as of June 2022, has resulted in the shortage of nurses in private and government hospitals across the country.

In January 2023, Rolly Villarin, vice president for programs and development of the Philippine Nurses Association (PNA) Cebu chapter, requested more than 1,000 newly inducted nurses to be patriotic and serve the country first.

“This number is already a big help in addressing the shortage of manpower in the hospitals. We are facing a shortage of nurses,” he said.

In October 2022, the Department of Health reported a shortage of 106,000 nurses and other healthcare workers that are needed to man both public and private health facilities all over the country.

In the first three months of 2024, 6,879 nursing graduates took the US licensure examination for the first time, while a record-breaking 36,410 nursing graduates took the test last year.

The primary reason they are leaving is the much higher pay they can earn overseas.

Jacob Erm Jericho Dolino, public relations officer of the PNA Cebu chapter, told SunStar Cebu in January 2023 that nurses in private hospitals in Cebu were reportedly paid P16,000 to P20,000 a month, while nurses in government hospitals were paid P32,000 to P33,00 based on their salary grade.

The median pay of registered nurses in America was $70,000 per annum (P4,039,000 based on May 18, 2024 exchange rate), or $33.65 (P1,941.605) per hour in 2017, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Quezon City. Rep. Marvin Rillo, vice chairman of the House committee on higher and technical education, passed House Bill 5276, which seeks to boost by 75 percent the starting base pay of public nurses.

“Congress must substantially upgrade the starting base pay of our nurses now if we want to retain at least some of them for our public hospitals,” he said last May 12.

Under his proposed law, the starting pay of government nurses will climb to P63,997 per month from the current rate of P36,619.

Sen. Sonny Angara also filed Senate Bill 638, which proposes to raise the entry-level pay of public nurses to P51,357 per month. / KOC

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