Honor: A Key in Honest Public Administration

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People always discuss about accountability and ethics when in an argument about public administration or anything that concerns the government. Yet, often forget about the importance of “honor” in public service.

Honor is defined as moral integrity or the esteem accorded to virtue or talent. In Filipino language, it is known as “dangal”, “karangalan”, or “kapurihan”. Without honor, a person has no ethical directions and thus thinks little on being accountable for his actions. According to Shafritz, Russel, and Borick, they stated that:

“Honor comes before ethics because a person without honor has no moral compass and does not know which way to turn to be ethical.”

Honor, in ancient times, was an important characteristic that must be visible to a person if he wanted to involve himself in public affairs because those perceived to be honorable were considered as trustworthy in public operations. Today, the word “honor” or the adjective “honorable” is rarely used in real life. Honorable people can most often be seen or read about in novels or movies but rarely in today’s society. Are the present government officials truly trustworthy? Well, it may be true because the people, who have the power to put them in office, voted for them. Or, maybe everything is all due to power, money, and prestige?

There was once a story about Abraham Lincoln who walked miles through the snow to return a book by a promised date. His word to return the book on time gave the full faith of his whole self to keep commitments. This was truly an act of honor, because he lived up to his word. This is a very important issue when it comes to our modern politicians. Every election season, numerous promises are made. Like a child’s wish list to Santa Claus, that’s how much a modern day politician’s promises looks like. However, once they are in office, where are those promises? Gone with the wind like a child’s balloon.

All who work for the government understand that they have a moral obligation to the people they serve, public trust. Anyone who works for the government must be honorable, in principles, values, and importantly in words. Section 1 of Article XI of the 1987 Constitution provides that, “Public office is a public trust. Public officers and employees must at all times be accountable to the people, serve them with utmost responsibility, integrity, loyalty, and efficiency; act with patriotism and justice, and lead modest lives.”

References:

  • New Websters’s Standard Dictionary Vol.1, Kimball Enterprise 2006. P.453
  • Shafritz, J., Russel, E.W., and Borik, C. (2013): Introducing Public Administration, 8th ed. Pearson Education, USA.
  • Section 1 of Article XI of the 1987 Constitution.
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Government’s Response Towards The Marginalized Profession

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RNheals join now!

NARS: The Feeble Response

Finally, in 2009, the Philippine government launched a program to address the increasing number of unemployed nurses in the country. President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo said the government would spend P500 million for the program called NARS.

Under the Nurses Assigned in Rural Service (NARS) program, some 5,000 to 6,000 nurses will be hired by the government to serve as “warriors of wellness” in poverty-stricken areas. They will be assigned in their hometowns and will be tasked to implement the following (1) initiate health and nutrition programs and first line diagnosis (2) to inform communities about water sanitation and health surveillance (3) immunize children and their mother. They shall also serve as roving nurses for rural schools. This program will enable nurses to gain the necessary training and experience needed for overseas employment. Hired nurses will work for 6-12 months and will receive a monthly allowance of P8,000 plus P2,000 counterpart fund from the local government units. In the Multi-Sectoral Jobs Summit at the Heroes Hall in Malacañang, President Arroyo said the NARS program mainly targets fresh nursing graduates who have passed the board examination but lack work experience to find jobs abroad.

Meanwhile, Health Alliance for Democracy (HEAD) Secretary General Geneve Rivera said short-term measures such as temporary and low-paying jobs will only cause bigger problems not only for workers, but also for the economy.

“It only provides temporary jobs for nurses. They are only given six months to one year to work. After that period, they won’t have jobs again, and the provinces will again lack nurses and health care professionals,” she said. “Our nurses will be getting very low wages. According to the Nursing Act of 2002, a nurse’s beginning salary should be P15,000 or salary grade 15. The government’s offer is P8000 from the national government, and a P2000 stipend from the local government. It’s way too low. And we all know that the local government doesn’t have enough budget to provide compensation,” she said.

As much as what General Geneve Rivera said was right, the program was one of the only solutions that the government can do at that present situation. It was a feeble response made by the government but it was better than no solution at all. Unfortunately, the program had its loop holes and issues. Such as, (1) distribution of stipends was terribly late; (2) some local government units, although a collaborator with the program, didn’t mind or give much attention to the nurses employed under the NARS program; (3) besides having work descriptions, nurses were dreadfully abused by their supervisors in terms of work and reports.

RN Heals Logo

RN HEALS: A Labour Band-Aid

The program, as any other programs by a certain administration was abolished but the next president, Benigno Aquino III who took office last June 2010, still continued the essence of the program but with a new name and with some modifications. The restructured program was called RN HEALS.

The RNheals Program was planned and implemented to continue the aid for unemployed and marginalized registered nurses (RNs) in the country. The program started as the exact NARS procedures but when the second batches of nurses were employed, they changed the policies due to troubles in orientations and supervision. Thus, instead of the 6-month hospital and 6-month community, it became a 1-full year of either hospital or community healthcare service. While the rest of the policies remained kind of the same from the previous ones.

Weighing Efforts

Despite the below minimum stipend that each employed nurse is receiving per month, the program has helped a lot of nurses.  The program truly enriched the knowledge, skills and attitude of its participants. RNheals nurses were able enjoy the idea of working and gaining per month. They were able to learn more and involve themselves in the various programs of the government relating to health and social welfare.

The ideal setting of the program was that every year, nurses will be assigned in various healthcare facilities. Some will be assigned in the hospitals while some in the rural health facilities. The application is done on-line and successful ones will receive a reply from the DOH human resource department.

Once the assigned number of nurses per area is occupied, the DOH offices of every place will conduct an orientation for the successful applicants and this is the time when work descriptions are specifically discussed and the persons to be familiar with throughout the program. The nurses will also be lectured on the DOs, DONTs and benefits. This 2-day orientation period also includes the contract signing to make things official. After the 2-days orientation, the nurses in each area will meet with their DOH representatives for the instructions on how to go about and the rest is history.

Every end of the month, the nurses must provide an accomplishment report of the things he did. It could be the number of pre-natal and post-natal clients, mothers and children vaccinated seen and served, and new cases of community diseases recorded such as dengue, tuberculosis and measles. The nurse is obliged to pass this and have it signed by its immediate supervisor in the area.

Every month this will be the routine of the nurse until he finishes the whole years’ worth of duty under the RNheals program. The nurse will also participate in LGU celebrations of its city or district. The nurse will work in assigned barangay stations as his area of responsibilities. He will do this until the end of his 1-year RNheals service.

Unfortunately, things were not what they seemed. In some regions, the LGU doesn’t support the program with its share of added compensation and demanded more work from the RNheals nurses. The LGU used the RNheals as regular casuals giving them work that are not listed on their job descriptions.

Additional experience by helping out in some work not listed in the accomplishment tool is okay but forcing to do it is just sad and as if the LGU is doing its part in supporting the program. Also, the stipends of the RNheals nurses are always delayed. Example, the September stipend can be obtain somewhere after not just 2-3 weeks but 1-2months of waiting.

The most troublesome part of the issue is when the RNheals nurses are obliged to travel at far flung areas to ride and walk on the mountains and the less visited of barangays. This is known to be one of the essence of the program but as mentioned, the LGU themselves are not supporting the program thus it is very risky for the participants. Furthermore, one of the reasons why the program was created was to produce competitive nurses locally and globally, but sad thing is that in abroad it is not considered as work experience. Lastly, it was stated that after the RNheals program, the nurse will be a priority in terms of employment in other agencies of the government but still it’s the same treatment as before. After the program, it is game over. No more post-implementations like job opening fairs, continuous special services or new employment opportunities for its participants. After a full year of service for the government, they are back to their former situation, unemployed.

Nursing: The Onset of a National Dilemma

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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.

Meging Paths: The Gap Between Theory and Practice Among Professional Nurses

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Last March 17, 2013, I attended a seminar organized by the MAN graduate students of Central Philippine University that was held at Lawaan, Roxas City. The speaker was a MAN who discussed topics about the essence of a nurse, the issues and challenges within the profession.

She introduced her discussion as she quoted that nurses are an integral part of a country’s national development since they constitute the greatest part of any healthcare delivery system that helps to maintain productive human capital. – Parks, Longsworth & Espadas, 2011.

Issues related to nursing that were discussed were about nursing students, nursing faculty, nursing curriculum, practice issues, financial/political issues, etc.

How are we able to bridge the gap between theory and practice in nursing? The speaker pointed out some strategies:

  • knowledge sharing
  • faculty development
  • technology education, hands-on, experience and support
  • nursing informatics

What are the challenges that revolves around the nursing profession nowadays? They are:

  • The Competitiveness Race to the ASEAN Communities 2015
  • International Educational Standards
  • Pillars of Education
  • ASEAN 2015 RACE
  • UN Millennium Development Goals
  • 3 Behavioral Competitiveness
  • Welfare Skills Qualifications

The discussion was a lively one because the speaker was able to relate trends and today’s dilemmas with the audience. Attending these kind of seminars are very beneficial for nurses to expand and update their knowledge regarding the nursing profession. Learning only ends when you are 6-ft. below the ground, said the speaker.

Poster Design Guest Waiting Chit-chat The speaker and the professor. DSCN3285 Host and hostess DSCN3289 DSCN3292 DSCN3293 DSCN3297 DSCN3296 DSCN3305 DSCN3308 DSCN3309 DSCN3310 DSCN3312 DSCN3313 DSCN3314 DSCN3326 DSCN3330 DSCN3333 DSCN3335 DSCN3339 DSCN3341 DSCN3342

School of Graduate Studies

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It’s back to school for me and this time it seemed that I had freedom on choosing this one.

As a nursing graduate, everybody would expect me to enroll into the MAN (Masters of Arts in Nursing) curriculum but I didn’t. I enrolled myself in the MPA (Master’s of Public Administration) in one of the well-known universities here in our city, instead.

Yes, I know that it’s way too far from my profession but that’s what make things more interesting. After all, I know for a fact that I would not be a nurse ’til retirement and it’s truly evident that career opportunities for Nurses in the Philippines is pretty dull.

Here are the PROS and CONS between MAN and MPA, for me as a NURSE:

Master of Arts in Nursing (MAN)

PROS

  • For those who can’t get a job after passing the board, this is one of the most productive options.
  • Enhanced credibility as a proficient nurse, especially for the resume.
  • I am straight on my career path.
  • Gain a higher level of specific nursing knowledge, skills and attitude.
  • Increased chances of being hired as a staff nurse in a certain hospital right after I undergo their months up to years of voluntary work or hired as a trainee nurse first.
  • Clinical Instructors wannabe.
  • For those who dream to replace head nurses, nurse supervisors and chief nurses with lousy management skills towards their co-nurses.
  • For those who dream of establishing their own nursing care facilities in the future.
  • This is where most nurses level-up their expertise at a certain field of nursing such as Maternal and Child, Nursing Service Administration, Community, Psychiatry, Oncology, and many more.

CONS

  • Your classmates are all nurses, period. (narrowed professional relationships)
  • Don’t enroll yourself if you have already been forced to take up Nursing and barely survived! Learn from your regrets!
  • Just a thought..(“It’s faster to go abroad if you’re a nurse”)…reality is that it’s *$#% hard to go abroad and get a decent work as a nurse unless you already have relatives who are OFWs or currently residing abroad. For those who don’t have relatives as such, options are to pay agencies a big sum of cash just to migrate and find work or illegal recruitment methods.
Master in Public Administration (MPA)
PROS
  • A new field of study for nurses thus very interesting.
  • Meet different professionals from different sectors and agencies.
  • You will get an idea of the business of the government and why a lot of people really involve themselves in politics.
  • Being a broad study will make you more suitable and adaptable to employment in the government.
  • Thus, for those who want to work in the government especially if one or both parents are already government employees or politically involved.
  • For those who no longer wish to go abroad but to stay in the country, find a regular job and grow old with that job.
CONS
  • “Poker face” for nurses who have little or no knowledge in concepts involving government and/or politics.
  • Thus, you should double-time in studying if you want to survive the curriculum.
  • You need to be involved in government affairs in order to relate with the topics.
  • This is not a definite credential that you will be one of the top candidates for recruitment in the government (as you’re not aware, gov’t recruitment is strongly influenced by politics)
There you have it. I am currently on my first semester so I am still on the learning and discovery process. If it ends well, then this might be a kind of good information or interesting direction for fellow nurses like me, especially new RNs.

“There will be a lot of decisions to make and paths to choose from but the most important thing is that you’re happy and having fun!” -Bakhaw Boy

Teresa Ferraris Magbanua “Visayas’ Joan of Arc”

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As we are celebrating the National Heroes Day, I would like to share one of my most looked up Philippine Heroes.

Teresa F. Magbanua is the sole Filipino woman ever documented in Philippine history to have led soldiers in the Visayas, specifically Iloilo. She was a brave and inspiring woman who fought for liberation against the Spanish and American soldiers and finally the Japanese.

She was born on October 13, 1869 at Pototan, a small town of Iloilo. She was born with well-heeled parents hence was able to afford to earn a teaching degree and taught in her hometown.
She belongs to a family of revolutionaries thus during the colonial times, she volunteered her services where she became an outstanding horseman and marksman. She led a group of soldiers in the Battle of Barrio Yoting, Capiz in early December 1898.  She also outfought the Spanish troops at the Battle of Sapong Hills near Sara.
On the later parts of her campaigns, she suffered a great grief from the early death of her brothers, General Pascual Magbanua and Elias Magbanua, at the hands of traitors.

After fifty years of being idle, she returned to the battlefield where she financed a guerilla resistance movement. The movement consisted of liberators together with the Allied Filipino soldiers of the 6th, 61st and 62nd Infantry Division of the Philippine Commonwealth Army. In addition, the 6th Infantry Regiment of the Philippine Constabulary and the Ilonggo guerrillas against the Japanese in the Battle for the Liberation of Iloilo. She was customarily referred to as the “Joan of Arc” by her fellow soldiers.
After years of services in the battlefield, she migrated to Mindanao and lived the remaining times of her life with her sister Maria in Pagadian, Zamboanga del Sur, where she died at some time in August, 1947.
Her inspiring contributions:
  1. Teaching by example. In particular, she taught love of country and courage to defend freedom and liberty when she volunteered to become part of the Philippine resistance against the Spanish, American and Japanese forces. She was imbued with the spirit of volunteerism and heroism at the time when her country needed it. Thus, making a sterling example to the Filipino people.
  2. Dedication to duty and service when she fought the American and Japanese forces for the same reasons that she fought for against the Spaniards.
  3. Women can lead men in battle. She literally broke the stereotype of a woman who stays at home and takes care of the family. In the case of Teresa Magbanua, she sacrificed her hours for the family for her country. For this effort, she could be easily said to be a pioneer or one of the pioneers of Philippine feminist movement.
  4. Women can lead in the battle against tyranny and oppression. 
  5. Without saying it literally after she said, “The situation in a country at a particular time creates its own breed of heroes and heroines,” anyone can be a hero at his own time, in his or her own way.
  6. Lastly, the greatest legacy she has made for the Filipino people was her fight for Philippine freedom and democracy as shown by her actions. According to Gregorio (Gregorio, 1976), “The important role of a teacher is (to serve) a bulwark of democracy (Gregorio, 1976). The state of Philippine education and society during her time contributed to the creation of a woman with the fighting and saintly spirit like Joan of Arc.
References:


“I want our people to be like a molave tree, strong and resilient, standing on the hillsides, unafraid of the rising tide, lighting and the storm, confident of its strength.” – Manuel L. Quezon
“The Filipino is worth dying for” – Ninoy Aquino

“Instead of aspiring to be a mere province, aspire to be a nation; develop an independent not colonial mentality; resignation is not always a virtue it is a crime when it encourages oppression. There are no tyrants where there are no slaves.” – Dr. Jose Rizal