Filipino nurses find life sweet in rural RHAs

Joan Duhaylungsod (front) and other nursing recruits from the Philippines attend a ceremony at the Manitoba legislature on Thursday.

Joan Duhaylungsod has had to make a lot of adjustments since leaving the Philippines seven months ago for a nursing job in Pilot Mound.

She left family and friends and a tropical climate in a Third World country for a sparsely populated -- and much colder -- country halfway around the world.

While toiling in a long-term care facility in rural Manitoba, she's also had to spend months studying for an exam that would allow her to work as a registered nurse in the province -- a test she passed in October.

On Thursday, she and two dozen other Filipino nurses attended a ceremony at the Legislative Building marking the success of a government nursing recruitment program that has eased the staffing burden on rural health care facilities.

More than 120 Filipino nurses have arrived in Manitoba this year, already exceeding the government target of 100. And 102 of them have already passed their Canadian registered nurse exam. The others, more recent arrivals, will write their exams in February.

"We are really very lucky and we are really very blessed for having this opportunity," Duhaylungsod said, speaking for her colleagues.

Health Minister Theresa Oswald said the province has added more than 2,000 nursing positions over the last decade, but it still needs more. That's especially true of rural areas, where the new recruits are working.

"These nurses who have travelled from the other side of the world to work here in Manitoba are making a real difference to families and to patients in over 20 communities," Oswald said. She said their presence has not only eased staffing pressures, but provided the communities with a morale boost.

Jason Marchand, an executive with the Brandon Regional Health Authority, said 20 Filipino nurses his region has been allotted have kept beds open, spurred training programs and given staff an opportunity to take a vacation. Brandon is one of four rural RHAs that have received Filipino nurses.

The Philippines trains many more nurses than it needs each year, and thousands have emigrated around the world to find jobs.

Duhaylungsod, 23, has been a nurse for three years. She, like many of the others who have recently arrived in Manitoba, will be sending money home to help out family members.

"There are so many people there who cannot even buy Tylenol. And here (health care) is free," she said Thursday.

Duhaylungsod said she's been warmly accepted in Pilot Mound and experienced no discrimination at work. She is one of two recruits who have found jobs in the town.

"My adjustment was a little bit easier because of the people. They're just so nice," she said of the south-central Manitoba community.

Adjusting to the weather has been more of a challenge, though. "When I say cold, it's just an understatement," she joked.

Japan accepts nurse applications

By JC Bello Cruz -
The Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) Wednesday announced the start of the recruitment of the second batch of caregivers and nurses under the Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement (JPEPA) on the Movement of Natural Persons.

POEA and the Japan International Corporation of Welfare Services (JICWELS) said applicants for nurses must be BSN graduates with board license at least three years experience.

Applicants for caregivers must be graduates from any four year course and certified as caregiver by the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA); or a graduate from nursing school with no board license.

The POEA said qualified applicants must personally submit the following documents to the Manpower Registry Division, ground floor, POEA Bldg, Ortigas corner EDSA, Mandaluyong City or register online at A detailed resumè; diploma; transcript of records; Professional Regulation Commission license; employment certificates; valid TESDA certificate; original and photocopy of first page of valid passport; and one 2×2 picture.

“Qualified applicants from Cebu and Davao shall personally submit the above mentioned documents to the POEA Regional Offices in these regions,” POEA said in its website.

The Japanese government earlier said that it expects the arrival of the second batch of Filipino nurses and caregivers next year under the JPEPA.

Kazuhiko Shimizu, deputy director for Second Southeast Asia Division of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA), said that the first batch of caregivers had already started their training in Japan.

Thirty Filipino candidate caregivers were sent to Japan last Sept. 27.

Under the JPEPA, Filipino nurses and caregivers have to take a two- to four-year school course in Japan. They must also pass the licensure examination to be certified care workers in Japan.

152 nursing schools face closure for poor board performance

By Rainier Allan Ronda
A total of 152 nursing schools face closure for registering poor passing percentages in the nursing licensure examinations over the past five years.

However, Emmanuel Angeles, Commission on Higher Education (CHED) chairman, said the 152 nursing schools will be given another chance in next year’s nursing examinations.

“It’s a warning for them,” he said.

“This is a wake-up call to our nursing schools to shape up or phase out. They are challenged to improve their quality.”

The 152 nursing schools were found to have performed below the national passing rate of 46.14 percent for the past five years, Angeles said.

Metro Manila has the most number of erring schools among the 152 poor performing schools: Arellano University-Manila, Arellano University-Pasay, De Los Santos-STI College, De Ocampo Memorial College, Dominican College, Dr. Carlos S. Lanting College, Emilio Aguinaldo College, J.P. Sioson General Hospital and Colleges, La Consolacion College Manila, Las Piñas College, Martinez Memorial College, Mary Chiles College, Olivarez College, Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Pasay, Perpetual Help College of Manila, Philippine College of Health Sciences, Philippine Rehabilitation Institute Foundation, Southeast Asian College, St. Jude College, St. Rita Hospital College of Nursing and School of Midwifery, STI College-Recto, the Family Clinic, Unciano Colleges and General Hospital, University of Perpetual Help-Rizal, and World Citi Colleges, Quezon City.

Calabarzon has 23 schools in the list; Central Luzon, 20; Ilocos Region, 16; Bicol, 14; SOCCSKSARGEN, 8; Northern Mindanao, 7; Zamboanga Peninsula, Davao Region and Cordillera Administrative Region, 6; Cagayan Valley and Central Visayas, 5; CARAGA Region, 3; and Eastern Visayas and Mimaropa Region, 1.

Earlier, Angeles said 177 nursing schools were found to have poorly performed in the nursing licensure examinations.

“To be fair to all the schools, we had to do a lot of verification,” he said.

Angeles said any mistake might cause unnecessary worry among students and parents and harm the reputation of the schools wrongfully identified.

Among the 152 schools, nine had already stopped offering their nursing course, and five schools had stopped operation altogether, Angeles said.

Next year, CHED will enforce a rule that schools whose performance in licensure examinations is below five percent for three consecutive years would have their permits revoked and their concerned program phased out.

Angeles said CHED is determined to crack down on poorly performing schools to ensure that higher education institutions offer quality education.

“With this move, we are helping not only the parents and students to carefully choose the nursing schools they go to, but we are helping our economy by minimizing frustrations and wastage among our nursing graduates when they take the licensure exams and make sure that they only get quality education from schools that prioritize quality by adhering to world class standards that we are now imposing,” he said.

Angeles said CHED is now looking into poorly performing maritime schools.

The PRC has given them a list of 38 maritime schools that fared poorly in licensure examinations, he added.

CHED will also check maritime schools offering accounting programs, Angeles said.

Group seeks Saudi exemption from exams for RP nurses

By JC Bello Ruiz
The Philippine government should ask Saudi Arabia to exempt Filipino nurses from the requirement to take the “prometric” exam to work in the country, the Migrante-Middle East said Friday, noting that the oil-rich country is the one that needs the services of Filipino nurses.

Migrante said the new qualifying exam required by the Saudi government is “an additional burden to Filipino nurses going to the Mideast.”

“The implementation of this new Saudi labor policy should not only be delayed, but should not be implemented at all by the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA),” Migrante-ME regional coordinator John Leonard Monterona said in a statement.

POEA Administrator Jennifer Manalili had earlier asked Saudi Arabia to delay the implementation of the prometric exam, the equivalent to the licensure exam taken by nurses in the Philippines, to allow the government to prepare procedures for RP nurses planning to work in the Middle East countries to meet the new requirement.

“The POEA and the Department of Labor and Employment (DoLE) should demand from the Saudi government the non-implementation of the prometric exam as it is only an additional burden to our already low-paid OFW nurses hoping to land a job in Saudi. And the POEA/DOLE would be in a better position to negotiate its non-implementation as it is the Saudi government that needs our OFW nurses,” Monterona said.

“Even if it is to be shouldered by respective employers, the amount will eventually be passed on to the hired nurses by deducting the amount from their salary, like the US$25 Overseas Workers’ Welfare Administration (OWWA) membership fee which should be paid by the employers, but being charged by OWWA to every departing OFW,” he added.

Monterona warned that the prometric exam would face “stiff” opposition from OFW nurses.

Saudi Arabia is the biggest market for OFW nurses, according to the POEA. Last year 7,955 nurses were deployed from 6,266 in 2007.

The prometric exam is now required by the Saudi Council for Health Specialties before one could work as a nurse in Saudi Arabia.

The exam may be taken in Saudi or in test venues in the Philippines.

In the Philippines, the accredited testing center is Thomson Prometric, Ateneo Professional Schools, 130 H. Dela Costa St., Salcedo Village, Makati City.

The examination is scheduled Tuesday up to Friday, with a fee of $90.

Pinoy nurses fill vacancies in specialised areas in UK hospitals

by Rose Eclarinal, ABS-CBN Europe News Bureau, London

SALISBURY, England - The United Kingdom nursing work force is ageing and British nurses are leaving the country to work in the United States and in recent years, in Australia.

These are some of the contributing factors for the shortage of qualified nurses in the UK both in the National Health Service or NHS and the private sector.

The UK faces the so-called graying of the population of the nursing work force and the younger ones are not interested in the nursing profession because they have more options for jobs that offer better pay and working condition. Those who leave the county to work elsewhere are driven by better pay and living conditions.

This is not the first time the UK has to deal with this problem. In the past, it has also turned to foreign nurses to do the job its peoples have pushed aside and snubbed.

Pinoy nurses for export

While the UK is in need of more nurses, the Philippines continues to produce nurses for export. Philippines is one of the biggest suppliers of overseas nurses to the UK, trailing behind is India, Britain’s former colony. UK’s overseas recruitment of nurses was criticized by the Brits because it is said to be designed as a short-term solution although it has helped the UK health sector manage the crisis.

The Salisbury District Hospital in Salisbury also turned to overseas recruitment to fill the vacancies in the hospital. Recently, it recruited some 17 OR (operating room) or theatre nurses from the Philippines.

“In the past two years our experience advertising for theatre nurses nationally and in Europe had very little success. Our reliance on agency nurses was high. We have now filled our vacancies in theatres, however we do have to look to the future and plan the workforce. There are a number of retirements in the next five years and recruitment will continue. Having established the current workforce we intend to recruit in this country and Europe,” said Colette Martindale, Surgical Directorate of Salisbury District Hospital.

She said there is no plan for another trip to the Philippines, however, that could also change. She also added that there is no preference over Filipino nurses but they chose to go to the Philippines this year because they knew ‘there was a reliable field of candidates.’

“There are still a high number of unemployed nurses in the Philippines. We have recruited from there in the past and we know the quality of work is good and the retention rate is good,” she added.

Nurses in specialized areas

Outside of any particular specialties, nursing has been removed from the ‘shortage occupation list’ by the UK Home Office. This means that employers with band 5 and 6 nursing posts have to prove that the vacancies could not be filled by nurses who are residents or nationals of the UK or of countries of the European Economic Area (EEA).

Salisbury District Hospital has advertised the vacancies for 2 years but there were no takers from the UK and from EEA.

The gold mine that the UK has found in the Philippines in early 2000 is still an attractive source to this date, providing work force for the UK health sector.

The 17 nurses that filled the vacancies at the Salisbury District Hospital have now started the Overseas Nursing Program. Nurses who were trained outside the EEA are required to pass the program and be registered at the Nursing and Midwifery Council or NMC.

“We have to undergo the classes and we have two days study at City College London. Nagpupunta sila dito. Para talagang school. Para ma-meet namin yun standards of nursing dito. At saka may different laws here as compared sa Pilipinas. Ang dami ditong laws na nagpo-protect sa patients so kailangan naming malaman yun,” said 24 -year- old Cathleen Lagtapon.

A pittance of a salary back home

Nursing work in the UK has always been attractive to Pinoy nurses because of the significant increase in their salary once they work in the UK.

“That’s one of the reasons I took up nursing because I wanted to work outside of the country. I really want to experience the hi-tech operations to further my career as an OR nurse,” said Lagtapon.

She was working as an OR nurse in Bacolod City earning a salary of P9,000 a month. As a nurse in training in the UK, she would receive a salary of 18,000 pounds annually or around P122,000 per month. Once registered with the NMC, there will be an increase of up to £5,000 in her annual salary.

Raising three children and working for a government hospital in the Philippines, Reynaldo Boy decided it was time to go where the grass was greener.

“Kasi nung una okay naman ang work ko sa Pilipinas. Since nasa government naman ako, ayos naman ang suweldo. Then later, nag high school na anak ko, I began to think na parang kulang ang kikitain ko dun,” he said.

With so many nurses in the Philippines seeking employment abroad, he considers himself lucky. He said however that as a father, there are trade-offs. He now has to get used to the long distance parenting set-up he has conceived for him and his children.

“Hindi ko na sila mababantayan dun. [Pero] yun naman talaga ang purpose nung pumunta ako dito to give them a better life. Pag nakapag-ipon ako, pwede kong makuha sila. Kung di ko man makuha, yung naipon ko, pwede kong ipadala sa kanila para sa studies nila-- to give them a better future, para makapag -aral sila, maging good citizen din some day,” he added.

Work ethics and family values are just some of the qualities that endear Pinoys to their British employers.

‘Compassionate, caring and hard working’

“I have found the Filipino nurses to be caring, compassionate, intelligent and hard working. They treat patients with respect and kindness. They have strong family values and they are driven to protect and provide for their families. Once adapted into the culture and way of life in a UK hospital they are encouraged to develop and become leaders in the future,” said Colette Martindale.

For Lagtapon and Boy, the opportunity to work abroad, to further their career as nursing professionals and provide a better future for their families are now happening. They are very grateful for this chance and the fact that unlike many others who came here, they didn’t even pay an exorbitant amount. They said their dream to work in the UK only cost them P15,000 for fees. But whatever social cost the nurses have to contend with in the future, for now they are happy.

“I want to keep pinching myself kung nandito talaga ako,” said Lagtapon.