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Saturday, March 15, 2008

Shortage of Nurses in the Philippines? But Why?

You go into college, work on getting yourself into internship, more work during duties which require you to do case studies on top of your graveyard shift. On Saturdays and Sundays you go to your course audit from 8 am to 5 pm and on Sundays at 10 pm you gotta rush to the hospital again for your duty. Before your graduation, there's the stress of having to complete your cases to submit them to file for your transcript of records as a graduate. You attend your review and take the board... and then what? Normally, the hospitals hardly hire new graduates.

Such is the plight of the nursing graduate in the Philippines. I was at Tiendesitas last night with 6 of my former classmates. Among, there was only 1 who had not passed the board exam but only another 1 is going to start her pre-employment training at the Medical City. The other 5 are still jobless. Why is this so?

While the Philippines continuously complains of not having enough nurses, the graduates continue to search for the elusive nursing jobs in the country. Is it really so bad? One doctor commented that we do not have nurses because we do not want to take a chance on the fresh graduates. But that really is easy to solve. My recommendations to address this issue are:

1. Hospitals, PRC and perhaps the DOH should collaborate and come up with a recommendation to increase the nursing course from the present 4 years to 5 or 6 years once more. This will provide more exposure to the nursing students and give them the opportunity to master their craft. I personally feel that the 4 years is not enough for me. Thus, even with my license which I got by earning a good score during the board, I'm still planning to undergo training for about 3 to 6 months before actual hospital work.

2. CHED should monitor the number of students in each nursing class. A good ratio of students and teachers would be somewhere between 21:1 to 30:1 students. 40:1 is manageable but not really good. Beyond this, you cannot expect quality learning anymore.

3. There should be more training hospitals. Ok, so there are schools that take pride in having tertiary hospitals as base hospitals. But, in reality, these tertiary hospitals hardly give opportunities to the stundent nurses to handle their clients. Usually, the most you can do is to get their vital signs and administer medication apart from bedmaking and spongebath which are more the function of nursing aids these days.

4. Another option is to require the nurses to take additional outside trainings like perhaps from the PNA in lieu of the additional exposure in school which for now is probably hard to implement.

These strategies although very crude are aimed at allowing the new nurses to get hired soon after graduation and will at the same time address the issue of shortage of competent nurses in the Philippines.

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