Job Prospects for Filipino Nurses Decline

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The law of supply and demand has caught up with the nurses again. As the 65,000 board exam takers fend off anxiety brought by the test given in June 1 & 2, 2008, a gloomy cloud hovers over their job outlook. Employment is reportedly down. And there’s a bottleneck which impedes hiring of nurses at home. Against the rosy job predictions of the past, there’s slowing in work recruitment. The chart shows fewer jobs are available abroad, hopefully just a transient trend that will go away.

In 1999, there were 27,000 student nurses in various schools nationwide. The number ballooned to 453,896 in the next 7 years—an incredible increase, in response to the bright prospects of a nursing career, in spite of the ban against opening of more schools, for fear of diploma mills.

The expense of pursuing the four-year course isn’t cheap. It’s about 300,000 pesos. The amount doesn’t include the bells and whistles of nursing: pocket-moneys, reviews, licensure tests, language proficiency exams, NCLEX, CGFNS certifications, and visa screens which could easily double the price of the country’s most popular course. Would-be nurses spend generously for the requirements, mostly to prepare for jobs abroad. Yet, in spite of the prohibitive cost, the Commission of Higher Education (mindful of the deteriorating quality of education) wants to extend the nursing curriculum for another year.

It’s the promise of green bucks and the lure to live overseas which drive many Filipinos into the profession. They’re motivated to work and immigrate in alien places, dreaming of situations different from what they have at home. Encouraged by the government, a huge number of them join the country’s army of willing workers who are relied upon, by their dollars, to shore up the nation’s economy.

The Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) the government agency which oversees the assignment of workers abroad isn’t happy with the southward retreat of jobs. Though probably the numbers are inaccurate since a good number of nurses sneak outside the country outside POEA’s purview, the agency’s data have nonetheless revealed a compelling picture:

The POEA data show a decline in deployment of new hires. From a high of 13, 822, deployed new hires in 2001, deployment decreased to 8,528 in 2006. Significant drops in deployment of new hires happened in the following receiving countries— Saudi Arabia: from 5,626 in 2004 to 2,886 in 2006; United Kingdom: from 800 in 2004 to 139 in 2006; US from 373 in 2004 to 133 in 2006; Kuwait: from 408 in 2004 to 191 in 2006; Qatar from 318 in 2004 to 38 in 2006.” Abs-cbnNews.com (06/01/08, Romero, P.)

Passing the boards is a requisite for local employment. If about half of the number of test examinees (32,500) passes the licensure test, many of them would find it hard to land a job. There are those who’re way ahead in the pile waiting for vacancies even in non-nursing jobs such as in call centers, medical transcription and computer technology. They’re likely to default on the time-table to be productive and miss the opportunity to assist their loved ones who are heavily invested in their future. ==0==

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