As nursing jobs become scarce, 88,750 brace for the next board examination

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The nursing profession is often equated with tender loving care (TLC,) a trademark of compassionate service. In the Philippines those who are sick have reasons to be happy for they have more than the nurses they need. There is a surplus of nurses competing to take care of patients.

Nurses are desperate to grab employment in the nation’s crowded healthcare system. Four hundred thousand (400,000) are reported to be jobless; a wave of newly licensed professionals will join them after the next board exams. With the highest number of examinees in history, a total of 88,750 nurses will sit for the Philippine Regulations Commission (PRC)-administered licensure test on November 29 and 30, 2008.

Carmencita Abaquin and Marco Sto. Tomas of the Board of Nursing are happy about the advances in testing computerization. Having recovered from the cheating scandal in the June 2006 test, the exam administrators insist that the well-guarded computers will do the job. They promise that the conduct of the forthcoming licensure will be “leakage free.” Those who configure the computers aren’t expected to rig the reault. They assume the machines and testing materials are tamper-proof.

Yet, there’s a big problem that looms behind the effort to prevent cheating. Nurses are badly in need of work. Job recruitment has been slow. They can’t volunteer in hospitals because there is almost no vacancy even if many hands are willing to work for free. Having spent time, talent and treasure to become professionals, the nurses don’t have jobs mainly because of government indifference and neglect.

Four hundred thousand (400,000) unemployed young nurses translate into a disgusting waste of labor capital. The staggering number is a monumental setback to those who offer their career for the country’s most popular profession. In financial terms, this is a blow to the campaign to send workers abroad for more dollars intended to boost the local economy. The government seems disengaged, proudly slow to react to the problem.

As in the past, the blame and anger spread in all fronts, but nothing effective to correct the labor crisis has been done. The government’s labor allocation policy has failed. Unable to protect the nursing profession, Philippine lawmakers, labor planners, school administrators, and licensure officials haven’t acted to the satisfaction of the public.

Counted among the country’s reliable cash cows, the poor silent nurses are mercilessly brushed aside now that there’s little need for them inside and outside the country. The docile professionals, unable to vent their frustration, pathetically wait for the day when they’ll be able to find work. Sadly, the day isn’t coming anytime soon—for there’s hardly anyone to help them. Together with the unemployed, a fraction of the 88,750 board examinees is about to rush for jobs that aren’t there. (Photo Credits: glenmcbethlaw; uberdoog; allwaysNY) =0=

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