Nurse glut made worse by apathy & self-interest


Almost everyone knows it is coming. The nation produces about 100,000 licensed nurses per year. The joblessness of 400,000 board-certified nurses is expected as students enrolled in the course has surged to more than 450,000 since 2006 in the Philippines which can only employ 60,000.

But few people want to talk about the nurse problem—either they are apathetic or they just wanted to move ahead on their own. There has been inadequate public national debate on the issue, in the government and even among interest groups. Perhaps, they are intimidated.

The apparent lopsided popularity of nursing didn’t dissuade students against choosing the course, among them, second-courser doctors who wanted a shot at higher paying jobs abroad, even if they had to downgrade their positions in the healthcare ladder. Acceptable to many, they had their career plans on hold, wasting away time before they could be productive. They believe the situation was only temporary; once they escape their jobs for high paying jobs abroad, it would be OK.

But we’re seeing the full-blown effects of failure in planning and labor-allocation. The exceedingly high number of unemployed nurses translates into millions of lost productivity. Since overseas labor is a major leg that shores up the Philippine economy, the impact of joblessness is staggering.

The Education Department was slow in averting the mass unemployment when it recognized the folly of loosely permitting new schools to open until its ban 2004. Legislators sat on the side (even allowing their relatives to join the nursing tide) without coming up with solution(s) to the profession’s freak overrepresentation in the workplace.

In a matter of few years, positions filled up, leaving thousands without jobs. Like beached whales in the sand, nurses with plans to work as overseas foreign workers (OFWs) quietly looked at their situation with worry and trepidation, hoping the bottle neck of employment would ease up. For survival, others had taken local jobs in alternative professions. On their own, they wonder what the government could do to alleviate their plight.=0=

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