CIBAC Rep. Sherwin Tugna says that the shortage is multi-dimensional hence whatever solutions crafted to deal with this problem should be grounded on this reality.
The solon categorizes “internal and external reasons for the shortage.” He posits that “External causes include global economic crises which started in the previous decade and the congestion of nursing jobs abroad.”
“Internal reasons”, he adds, “are the continued offering of nursing course in educational institutions without regard to the aforementioned external developments and the less-informed choices of students who persistently enroll in the course.”
“Nursing was a very good profession in the 1990s, with many families being able to get out of poverty because of its high returns especially if one works abroad. However, the economic crises which began at the turn of the 21st century and the condensation of positions abroad meant drastically reduced demand for nurses. Regardless of these developments, educational institutions continued to fuel the dreams of students who were slow to recognize that the profession was already past its peak.
“In essence,” the solon adds, “parents who still send their children to nursing schools are playing a game of chance. Taking up nursing today is different from, say, 10-15 years ago. While the graduates then had high employment possibilities in well-paying positions abroad, today’s graduates are hard-pressed in finding jobs related to their professions. Even interning in government hospitals is difficult with many competing applicants.”
Tugna agrees that there is an imbalance of medical workers in the country’s more rural areas. “I think this is now currently being addressed by the Department of Health with some ongoing programs. The DOH’s RNHeals, for example, employs 10, 000 unemployed nurses to work in the country’s rural areas for a year. This not only provides temporary employment to nurses but also enables them to have experience necessary when applying in the future.”
The effective resolution of the problem, the CIBAC solon argues, requires the collaboration of all societal groups including the government and the private sector. He offers that “As a developing country, we cannot influence international economic developments. What we can do is to effect out changes within our country.”
Tugna presents the following suggestions.
“First, the government, through the Commission on Higher Education, should regulate the offering of nursing in educational institutions. Supply should be adjusted to demand realities. We cannot continue churning out graduates who have no foreseeable employment opportunities in the future. Moreover, CHED should also embark on an information campaign to effectively wean the public from the perception that nursing is still ‘in’.
“Secondly, the government should continue to look for solutions in addressing the unemployment and underemployment of nurses in the country. The DOH’s programs are a good start.
“Thirdly, the CHED should promote the growth of vocational and technical courses, which have much higher demand nowadays.
“Fourth and more importantly, the government should continue working with the private sector for increased investments which would open up new jobs – not just in the nursing sector – but the whole labor sector.”
Finally, the CIBAC solon offers some advice to students and their parents. “It is clear that nursing is not anymore a ticket out of poverty as it was before. Students, therefore, should exercise more efforts to determine which professions are still marketable when they graduate. This way, their sacrifices and that of their parents won’t go to waste,” he concludes.