Posted by: Mer Pints | July 9, 2008

Lower Demands for Nurses Abroad; A Cause for Alarm?

If there is something that scares Filipino professional nurses and nursing students today, it is the problem on the over supply of nurses. But some 10 or more years ago they had been talking on the same problem again; enrollment in the schools of nursing then  went down for a while, but slowly it took off as more and more other countries in the world recruited nurses in the Philippines.

So what if the demand for Filipino nurses in the United States and other key labor markets abroad is slowing down. It may not take long but there will be higher demand again for Filipino nurses. And it happened, when the U.S. reopened its doors recruited more nurses to fill up the shortage of nurses in America. That’s why even doctors started taking up courses in nursing to be able to enter and work in the America.

It’s politics… I am one those who believe that even a simple hiring of nurses from countries like the Philippines encounter some local resistance and politics is at play. And the demand for nurses abroad defends on what the law makers abroad feel and think advantageous to their interest.

But is there really a cause for alarm? It all defends on how we look at the problem; past, present, and future.

Alangan naman na mag-change course na ang mga estudyante natin kahit saang paaralan pa sila nanggaling. In our culture as Filipinos, iba na iyong may nurse ka sa pamilya. Kahit ano pa ang sabihin nila, lalong dadami pa ang mga estudyanteng mag-aaral ng nursing.

Of course we have to safeguard the quality of instruction, and the quality of nursing graduates too. Having a personal interest with the profession, I for one support any action that brings and maintain to the “highest standard” the  quality of nursing profession in the country. And I am disappointed too in the proliferation of below standard Schools of Nursing in the Philippines.

With regards to problems in the employment of Filipino nurses local and abroad, of course, this is the risk that one has to think about before spending a considerable amount of time and resources in pursuing a course/profession in nursing.

Below is a news article on the subject from

Shrinking US demand swells jobless Filipino nurses



The demand for Filipino nurses in the United States and other key labor markets is falling, thus swelling the ranks of jobless Filipino nurses, the Philippine Nurses Association (PNA) said Tuesday.


“In the past two years alone, with domestic demand not increasing and global demand decreasing, many nurses are now waiting to be employed,” said Philippine Nurses Association (PNA) President Leah Primitiva Samaco-Paquiz, in a press conference Tuesday at the PNA office in Malate, Manila.


“There is already a decrease in demand for nurses, and that’s the trend for now. Mahirap po ngayong makahanap ng trabaho kahit qualified ka. Matagal. (It’s hard to find a job now, even if you’re qualified. It takes a long time.),” said Dr. Fely Marlyn Lorenzo of the National Institutes of Health, a research institute of the University of the Philippines Manila.


Lorenzo said the nursing job market slowdown began in 2006 when the demand for Philippine nurses plateaued due to a shrinking US market for nurses and a change in policy of the United Kingdom on hiring of foreign nurses.


Since the domestic market for nurses is oversaturated, nursing pools of qualified nurses in major Philippine hospitals are as high as 1,500, and employment waiting time ranges from six to 12 months.


The PNA explained that the high unemployment and underemployment of Filipino nurses is due not only to lower demand but also overproduction of nurses by Philippine nursing schools.


The nursing licensure examinations produced 37,030 nurses in 2006 and 31,275 nurses in 2007. In 2007, there were about 65,000 newly-registered nurses.


Declining quality

The quality of nursing education has also been declining, and this has affected the chances of Filipino nurses getting hired.


The PNA reiterated the need to focus on the quality of nursing education in the Philippines instead of commercializing the profession.


Billions of pesos are wasted in tuition payments by parents whose children don’t get to finish nursing education or those who cannot pass the board exams. 


Lorenzo said that there were 178,626 Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) enrollees in school year 2003-2004, but only 14,383 graduated.


“The graduation rate is a very small percentage of those enrolled in BSN. So we have to ask ourselves, what happened to all those enrollees? Many students are admitted in the nursing program, but so few graduate. Quality is the problem,” said Lorenzo.
According to Lorenzo’ estimate, P34.2 billion were wasted from 1999 to 2006 by Filipino families whose children didn’t get to finish nursing schools. In public schools, the waste is much lower: P19 billion from 1999 to 2006.


This huge amount spent for a nursing education, she said, could have been used to educate young people in other courses.


In support of CMO 5

Since quality nursing education is a critical issue, the PNA declared its support for Memorandum Order No. 5 of the Commission on Higher Education (CHED), which seeks to ensure safe, ethical and quality nursing practice.


Out of 460 nursing schools, 341 have already implemented the new curriculum. The new curriculum is supposed to improve the quality of Philippine nursing education by honing critical competencies in safe and high quality health care for patients.


“The new curriculum is a very laudable, significant step. We totally support this. But it doesn’t mean that this is the only one. This is one clear step that CHED has taken for quality education,” said Dean Josefina Tuazon of the UP College of Nursing.


No to Practical Nursing Program

However, the group is not in favor of the CHED’s insertion of the Practical Nursing (PN) Program through a proposed ladderization of the nursing curriculum.


“It has been packaged as the easiest way to go abroad, but it’s a dead end program because there is no local demand and no foreign demand [for it],” said Tuazon.


The PNA raised three major points on why they oppose the practical nursing program:

  • there is no local demand nor positions for practical nurses within the Philippine Health Care Delivery System, particularly in the light of the oversupply of nurses and subsequent unemployment of graduate nurses; 
  • there is no global demand for foreign-trained practical nurses, only professional nurses;
  • there is no licensure of practical nurses provided for in the Philippine Nursing Act (RA 9173), thus, the institution of practical nursing programs has no legal basis.

“Why not maximize the nurses we have? We have nurses who have not passed yet. What’s the point of creating another layer or category of nurses,” said Tuazon. “Address the surplus situation first. Find jobs for those who are already out there, the licensed nurses, instead of coming up with a new one.”


She stressed the need to maintain the Philippines’ good brand of nurses by ensuring high quality of nursing education through the new curriculum.


“This is the time to fix it [curriculum] so that we can maintain our advantage. We should ensure that the brand of Filipino nursing is maintained and kept,” added Lorenzo.


 US market

Paquiz also related the bad experiences of two new Licensed Practical Nurses (LPN) graduates who could not find jobs in the US, contrary to the promises of practical nursing schools in the country.


“They claimed that they were misled by their respective schools since they spent almost US$5,000 or almost P200,000 more to complete courses on Prior Learning Assessment and Recognition (PLAR) for international applicants,” Paquiz said.


She said the graduates were also informed that there is enough demand for LPNs in the US.

“Nursing leaders and educators decry the commercialization of nursing, of luring the unknowing public into enrolling in LPN training programs and poor quality education programs. Ensuring quality and safety of nursing practice through various nursing education and practice reforms will counteract blatant commercialization,” said Paquiz.




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