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Thread: Nursing now an ailing profession

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    Nursing now an ailing profession

    From Global Nation: Nursing Now an Ailing Profession -, Philippine News for Filipinos

    PAANO na kami?" (What’s will happen to us?)” asks an anxious Genevieve “Bing” Lorenzo in serious concern over published reports that the once burgeoning overseas demand for Filipino nurses has begun to wane.

    This part-time private pre-school teacher is currently enrolled in a Metro Manila hospital cum nursing school with “high hopes” that she would be able to work abroad in four or five years, preferably in the United States, where one of her siblings is based. This 24-year old Nueva Ecija native is now having second thoughts about finishing her course.

    Sometime in July, Dr. Leah Paquiz, president of the Philippine Nursing Association (PNA), said in a news conference that Filipinos aspiring to jump on the nursing bandwagon should think twice. “Many licensed nurses are now underemployed or unemployed as a result of changes of policy in destination-countries, the current situation of oversupply and quality problems, among other things,” Paquiz explained.

    A slowdown in overseas postings for nurses, particularly in the US and the United Kingdom, has resulted in a glut of nurses in the local market, PNA officials said. Nursing is no longer a lucrative profession and students who think they can use it as a passport to greener pastures abroad are seriously mistaken, they added.

    Josefina Tuazon, dean of the University of the Philippines College of Nursing, advises prospective nurses to “go into nursing for the right reasons. If you are thinking of going into nursing to be able to go abroad or because your family is pressuring (you), then it is not the time.”

    Higher Education Commissioner Nona S. Ricafort agrees. “At this point, we’re not encouraging Pinoys to join the nursing bandwagon,” she says. “Sad to say, the foreign demand for our nurses has hit a plateau (due to US and UK government policy issues). Most of the hospitals there have put a freeze on hiring nurses.”

    Big hospitals like Philippine General Hospital in Manila and St. Luke’s in Quezon City have a backlog of nursing applications and a waiting time of six to 12 months. But Ricafort strongly believes that “the slowdown will only be temporary. Nursing jobs will be available again soon. We’re very confident about that.”

    Reports from the US, Japan and some European countries describe a crisis in hospitals there, notes this CHed official. “With these countries’ aging populations, there’s a need for nurses. Who will take care of their old folk?”

    With a projected enrolment of 497,214 students during the current school year, nursing tops the list of college courses here, according to records of the Commission on Higher Education’s Office of Policy, Planning, Research and Information.

    Also in the Top 20 list of most popular baccalaureate programs are hotel and restaurant management (134,688), computer science (100,760), criminology (96,991), information technology (95,353), accountancy (89,564), management (82,882), elementary education (67,204), English education (52,336), electronics and communications engineering (48,252), marine transportation (45,034), computer engineering (43,388), civil engineering (39,202), business administration, management and accountancy (37,773), economics (33,656), industrial technology (33,470), public administration (32,810), commerce (29,897), community development (28,769), and business administration (28,479).

    An additional 817,688 students are enrolled in other college courses, including the “least popular ones like agriculture and fisheries which our country really needs,” notes Ricafort.

    “With the intense pressure to globalize all our professions, meaning they must jibe with the demands of industry and labor, there’s the need for an honest to goodness review of our tertiary education curriculum. This calls for a paradigm shift in the curriculum from being supply-driven to market-driven in terms of content and structure,” she adds.

    When Patricia Sto. Tomas was Labor Secretary, she pointed out in an earlier employment summit that there were “many jobs available in the market, but we do not have the right people who are equipped with the skills and knowledge that match national and global labor demands.”

    In the same forum, then CHed chair Carlito Puno observed that higher education institutions were producing “graduates who do not match the labor demand.”

    “Let’s face it, not all college students are meant to take four-year courses. Why? Because not all of them can pass the board exams being administered by the Professional Regulations Commission. They should get real,” says Ricafort.

    The CHed officer-in-charge stresses, “the answer to this is the ‘ladderized’ tertiary education program, an initiative of President Macapagal-Arroyo.

    “Under the ladderized program, there are no dropouts. The curriculum is designed to allow flexibility. You may exit from one course and finish another. It’s not like old times when parents would insist that their children finish a four-year course because no one would employ them if they don’t have a college diploma. Not anymore.”

    President Arroyo earlier issued Executive Order No. 358 which provides the mandate and legal framework for the implementation of the ladderized program in tertiary schools.

    To date, all the 111 state universities and colleges nationwide are currently offering ladderized courses that allow learners to switch from technical-vocational education and training to college courses, and vice versa.

    “But there’s a problem—only an average of four to five courses have been ladderized,” says Ricafort. She adds however that she’s confident that by school year 2009-2010, most courses would have undegone the same process.

    In the private sector, less than a third of the over 1,500 colleges and universities have so far opted for the scheme. Lawyer Gonzalo Duque, president of the Philippine Association of Colleges and Universities, notes: “Some schools have reservations about the concept. They see it as putting the cart before the horse, or implementing the program now and asking questions later.”

    Adds Duque, brother of Health Secretary Francisco Duque III, whose family owns the Lyceum Northwestern University in Dagupan City: “There are more important things that need our attention, like the problems facing the nursing discipline.”

    According to both CHed and the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (Tesda), ladderized education gives learners two distinct advantages: “They can ascend successive job platforms, get employed, earn money to further their education and acquire more skills and work experience. And they need not repeat previous and overlapping subjects. Their tech-voc competencies can be credited as units under a related college degree program and vice versa.”

    That is why, nursing students “may opt to go for the two-year practical nursing or nursing aide courses,” says Ricafort, who has been appointed by President Arroyo as oversight commissioner for the ladderized education program. Aside from nursing, HRM, technical teacher education, computer science and IT, over 50 college courses have been ladderized.

    The CHed is currently developing other courses for inclusion in the program, including dentistry, optometry, pharmacy, medical technology, liberal arts and music education, among others. However, “there are college courses like law and medicine that may not be ladderized. Well, at least in the near future,” says Ricafort. “But we remain optimistic. Former Justice Bernardo Pardo, who heads our law technical panel, says they’ll look into the matter.”

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    Re: Nursing now an ailing profession

    tama yan!

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