MANILA, Philippines -- There is no surplus of 400,000 nurses in the country, but a dearth of qualified nurses that employers abroad would hire, the recruitment industry said Monday.
The reaction was to the earlier statement of Commissioner Ruth Padilla of the Professional Regulation Commission that the surplus was enough to meet the requirements of Saudi Arabia, Canada, the United States, and Europe.
To prove his point, Jackson Gan, vice president of the Federated Association of Manpower Exporters, said that the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration has a standing, unfilled 20,000 job orders for nurses to the Middle East, Singapore, and Europe.
He said this was on top of the unfilled job orders from last year.
"While POEA has a current job order for 5,000 nurses to Saudi Arabia, it was able to fill up only 50 percent of the requirement last year. The POEA continues to receive job orders for nurses to Saudi Arabia, Norway, and Belgium," he said.
Gan explained that Filipino nursing graduates were not qualified for these jobs abroad because they were either not trained or did not have two years work experience in big hospitals. He said the Philippines did not have enough government and private hospitals with a 250-bed capacity.
"The most modern private hospitals in Metro Manila have on standby pools of nurses who want to work even as trainee nurses for free just to get the experience required by foreign hospitals. Government hospitals like the PGH [Philippine General Hospital], Jose Reyes, the Heart Center, and others have on their waiting list hundreds of nurses who want to work on those hospitals for the required training and experience," he said.
He suggested that the government increased the budget of the Department of Health for the upgrading and upsizing of provincial or regional hospitals all over the country. This will give Filipino nurses the training and experience required for local employment and deployment abroad.
Gan said the other reason why there seemed to be a surplus of unemployed nurses in the country was that nursing graduates only wanted to work in the US. He said they usually turned down offers to work in the Middle East even when competitive salaries and benefits were offered.
"Many hospitals in the Middle East have the latest medical equipment and professionals which can offer the training needed by nurses for two years and a stepping stone for employment in the US, Canada, and Europe," he said.
Some go to countries like the United Kingdom and Australia which offer study-work programs where they enroll in an accredited university for a second degree in nursing and health care while working as caregiver in care homes. They go for the eventual permanent residency after five years.
Gan said the rise of business process outsourcing, particularly medical transcription, has also absorbed nursing graduates. He said with a starting salary of P15,000 plus a signing bonus of P20,000, nursing graduates who have a working knowledge of medical terms would rather work at these call centers than get a job at private or government hospitals offering a minimum monthly salary of less than 10,000.( Inquirer.net)