THE Commission on Higher Education (Ched), Department of Health (DOH) and the Private Sector Advisory Council (PSAC) signed on Wednesday, July 19, 2023, a Joint Administrative Order (JAO) for the implementation of guidelines for the Nurse Workforce Complementation and Upskilling Program.
Under the program, underboard nursing graduates will be utilized to complement the current supply of licensed nurses in both public and private hospitals while upskilling them to pass the Nurse Licensure Examination (NLE).
First-time takers of the licensure exam, retakers and those who want to return to nursing may enroll in accredited higher education institutions for the nursing board review classes which will be funded by the DOH and Ched.
Private and government hospitals agreed to pay for the fees of their clinical care associates.
The program aims to address the nursing shortage in the country following the order of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.
Despite the lifting of a moratorium on the opening of new nursing programs to which 54 Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) have already applied for, it is still not enough as it will only be able to produce 2,052 additional nursing graduates by 2028.
“Only about 50 percent of nursing students pass the licensure exam; we have to look for the other 50 percent. How can we help them pass the licensure exam? We have to give them opportunities for re-skilling and upskilling, and assist them pass the licensure test. If we are able to do this, we can immediately produce new nurses, we don’t have to wait for four to five years to increase the nursing manpower. We can have more nurses within the year,” Ched chairperson Prospero de Vera III said.
Health Secretary Ted Herbosa said the signing of JAO is a significant milestone of collaboration and hard work for the government and private sector in response to the growing demands for healthcare workers.
The DOH will serve as the lead agency for the implementation of the program.
"This program serves as an embodiment of our commitment to all our healthcare workers, especially to our dear nurses, in providing them with the services and benefits that they truly deserve. Ang lahat ng ito ay tungo sa tuloy-tuloy na pagsasakatuparan ng Universal Healthcare (UHC) sa bansa (All this is toward the continuous realization of Universal Healthcare in the country),” Herbosa said.
“Aligning with the Department’s 8-Point Action Agenda, the DOH ensures that health workers' welfare and rights are recognized and valued. This will aid in the further fulfillment of the UHC promise,” he added.
Herbosa said only about 50 percent of the country’s 511,173 licensed nurses are currently practicing their profession in the Philippines.
He said the others were either working abroad or in other industries not related to healthcare.
Earlier, Herbosa said the country may no longer have nurses after three to five years if the government will not do something to make them stay instead of working abroad due to higher pay. (SunStar Philippines)