Nursing: The Onset of a National Dilemma

Every year, since the last 10 years, the surge of the youth taking up Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) in most colleges and universities of the country became rampant. Why was this so? The true explanation regarding the phenomenon is still unknown but relative reasons could have been due to the point that the United States of America opened its doors to nurses internationally due to high demands in healthcare manpower.

Filipinos who were lucky enough to be hired as a nurse in the US were able to receive very good salaries, benefits and incentives from their respective hospitals unlike in the many hospitals of the Philippines. Some Filipino nurses who became US-RNs were able to uplift themselves and their families from poverty. Hence, at that time, the nursing profession in the Philippines boosted its prestige both the country and the world market.

When a Filipino nurse comes home from abroad, it really was a big fiesta like most any other oversees foreign worker (OFW). Like seamen, they brought home big sum of foreign money and when converted to the local currency, say hello to a millionaire. Spend here and there; spend everywhere an OFW would do. They would spend for infrastructures such as renovation or building of bigger houses for their family. Invest on lands and businesses so that their money would still move even while abroad. These amazing progresses caught the attention of many other families. While the US was still opening its doors to foreign nurses, interested families grabbed the opportunity by sending their children to colleges and universities to take up BSN.

After a few years of waves of registered nurses passing the board, suddenly the US experienced an economic crisis and closed its doors for foreign nurses and started its new health care reform under the presidency of Barack Obama who took the presidential seat last 2008 and re-elected  for his second term last 2012. When the halt for employment of foreign nurses in the US initiated, it was already too late because many schools in the Philippines were already producing nursing graduates at an alarming rate and the establishment of more nursing schools and the addition of the BSN curriculum in many colleges emerged as well. The US became very strict due to problems that some foreign countries were producing incompetent nurses. Many agencies and foreign employers made job descriptions harder for Filipino nurses to get an employment. With the economic crisis and the closing of its doors to foreign healthcare workers, the nursing students and the other licensed nurses in the Philippines lost a very big investment. Then, later did the Philippine government realize the distress of the presence of so many licensed nurses but very few employment opportunities in their own country for a formal nursing job.

A lot of organizations, especially the hospitals, were quandary on what to do with so many licensed nurses in the Philippines. Some hospitals, in order to help the newly registered nurses (RNs), hired some RNs to work as a volunteer staff in their institutions. While others, like the Business Processing Outsourcing (BPO) companies, opened such jobs that can fit the qualifications of nurses.

Today, almost half of the nursing population are unemployed. Some are working but not in relation to their field of expertise. Some, too desperate to go out of the country, apply as domestic helpers in the Middle East or in other parts of the world just to achieve the dreams of their families for them which was to work abroad, earn foreign money and send it back to the Philippines as remittance.

Until today, the nursing profession in the Philippines is still in its dark days. If no strategic plans will be made by both the public and the private sectors then the healthcare economy will be in peril and the unemployment rate will just go higher resulting to increased poverty.

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