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'RP nurses have no reason to be jobless’

MANILA, Philippines - A former health secretary said aspiring overseas Filipino nurses who recently passed the board exams but have remained unemployed in the country were not resourceful enough to look for job vacancies.

Dr. Jaime Galvez Tan, a professor at the University of the Philippines College of Public Health, said there is no reason for Filipino nurses to feel that there are no job opportunities for them when there remains a high demand for Philippine health workers overseas.

“Resourceful nurses go to the Internet where they can apply and be immediately interviewed through the webcam," Tan said.

Unfortunately, said Tan, even the best nursing schools in the country have not taught resourcefulness among its students.

“We are not beggars. In fact, the world is kneeling before us; Give us your nurses, give us your doctors," he said. “The vacancies are there. The US (for instance) needs 300,000 foreign nurses this year.

" According to Tan, new labor markets in Saskatchewan and Alberta in Canada have recently signed a pact with the Philippines to cater to Filipino nurses and have even offered a number of incentives to their families.

But this is hardly ever felt by Len, 22, who remains unemployed despite graduating from a top nursing school and passing the board exams.

According to her, most hospitals abroad require foreign nurses with at least two years work experience, but most private and public hospitals in the country have very few vacancies for new graduates.

Work experience needed

Faced with this difficulty, Len said she had to attend more seminars to gather more “work-related experience" to make her a more attractive applicant overseas.

Mark, Len’s boyfriend and also a nursing graduate, didn’t fare better and is now employed in a call center while waiting for any of the 10 hospitals he applied with to consider him.

Apparently Len and Mark are not alone in this plight.

At St. Luke’s Medical Center in Quezon City alone, an average of 30 nurses apply every day. But the country’s premier hospital has a nursing pool of 300 nurses who finished three months pre-hire training, while vacancy is 6-10 persons per month since Oct 2007.

Nursing pools refer to those considered qualified by hospital employers but waiting to be formally employed.

At the Philippine Heart Center, hiring has slowed down as turnover rates has decreased to 10 percent since 2006. In 2007, the turnover rate remained while the nursing pool has risen to 1,500.

At the Philippine General Hospital, waiting time is 10-12 months with a nursing pool of 200-250.

There are 100 applicants per exam conducted every 2 months – but only about 20-25 percent pass and still go over interviews. In 2007, PGH turnover rate was.83 percent.

‘Exploitation’

Meanwhile, Philippine Nurses Association National President Leah Primitiva Samaco-Paquiz said the perceived oversupply of nurses is really caused by the inability of Philippine hospitals to create additional plantilla positions for fresh graduates.

Paquiz said some hospitals are exploiting their nursing students to do the tasks that should have been relegated to registered nurses.

She proposed a short-term solution to the unemployment of Filipino nurses.

“Mag-hang sila ng mga karatula sa labas ng bahay They could hang a nurse signage outside their homes and then the community can ask for health education," Paquiz told GMANews.TV in an interview.

“If lawyers can hang their names outside so could nurses. We could also ask for consultation fees," she added. -MARK JOSEPH UBALDE, GMANews.TV



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