Filipino nurses sought in Bahrain

MANILA, Philippines –  Bahrain is hopeful to fill up its urgent need for nurses with Filipino medical professionals —this is the good news that the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) announced recently.
Meanwhile, Bahraini Social Development Minister and Acting Health Minister Dr. Fatima Al Balooshi will communicate with the Embassy the Kingdom's health manpower requirements as soon as possible.
The Bahraini government expressed that Filipino medical professionals are highly regarded in Bahrain because of their professional competence.
In a recent meeting with Philippine Ambassador to Bahrain Ma. Corazon Yap-Bahjin, Dr. Balooshi , in addition,  promised to look into the possibility of facilitating the recognition of the Filipino doctors' credentials as medical specialists .
The Philippine government is optimistic that Filipino doctors will also be able to practice their profession as such and receive remuneration corresponding to their professional and educational qualifications.

6 Filipinos back from Libya

MANILA, Philippines—Six more Filipinos trapped in the violence-racked Libyan city of Misurata arrived in Manila on Thursday night, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said Friday.
The DFA also said seven Filipino nurses earlier reported missing in Libya have been accounted for, with five of them returning home with other Filipinos from the strife-torn north African country.
The six Filipinos, five of them nurses and an engineer, were fetched and rescued in Zitlin by Philippine officials led by Foreign Secretary Albert Del Rosario after being trapped in Misurata for 23 days.
Zitlin is the town closest to Misurata, Libya's third largest city. From Zitlin, the group traveled to the capital of Tripoli, then crossed the country's border with Tunisia.
With the six were three other Filipinos who were earlier brought out of Tripoli through the Tunisian border and flew out of Djerba on Tuesday, the DFA said.
The Filipinos were welcomed on their arrival by DFA officials and by a representative from the International Organization for Migration.
The six Filipinos were identified as Evangeline Garcia, Evjoalyn Calam, Catherine Galue, Valerie Joy Ventura, Celeste Canbangay, and Vincent Sanchez.
The nurses also confirmed that two other nurses, Bernadette Pavurada and Lilian Rosales, had sent them an e-mail saying they are safe and are now in Benghazi. They were part of the group of nurses working at the National Oncology Institute in Misrata who were earlier reported missing.
In the morning of March 18, Libyan government forces stormed the area where the six Filipinos were residing and camped beside their residence, just across the street where opposition forces were stationed, they told the DFA.
“What followed were days of non-stop fighting,” the DFA said of their ordeal.
“The Filipino workers were unable to leave because snipers from either side readily shot anyone seen on the street,” the DFA said.
“The nurses tended the wounds of the soldiers. Two of them said that they had to break into an abandoned pharmacy across the street to get medicines and tools to treat and even perform surgical procedures on the casualties,” the DFA said.
Their service prompted Libyan government troops to transfer the Filipinos to a safer place. “Twenty-three days later they found themselves in Zitlin, the town closest to west of Misrata where they were rescued by embassy officials,” the DFA sai

Why Do Nurses Eat Their Young?

More and more Nurses are getting involved and looking for solutions that will end the scourge that has persisted for so many years and tarnished the good work and dedication of all Nurses everywhere.
Have you heard that phrase before? I graduated my Nursing Program way, way, back in 1955 and it was around even then. The perpetrator is usually a senior nurse with longevity but could be a new graduate bursting with new knowledge and techniques and anxious to give them a workout or it could be a Supervisor or someone with a higher or lower rank than the victim. Regardless who is creating the problem it is interesting that old cliché is still around in this the 21st Century.

I first encountered it when as an eighteen-year-old nursing student who had never been in a hospital had no idea what a hospital ward looked like. I was born at home, and my tonsils were removed on my Grandmother’s kitchen table when I was five. That was way, way, way, back, in 1935. So imagine my surprise to learn the "Ward" my Mother talked about when she had my brothers and sister, was not a long hallway with beds on either side, as I had envisioned, but a long hallway with rooms on both sides and it even had a kitchen. Yes, I remember it well.

We spent the first three months of our training in the classroom learning the basics of bedside nursing-bed making, vital signs, bed baths, enemas, along with medical terminology, anatomy, and other basic preparations for our initiation to "The Ward". We never got further than the lobby of the Hospital and the Cafeteria until the end of those first three months. Finally, the day came with the notification our schedules were changed. Starting immediately, we would spend four hours in the classroom every morning and four hours on the Ward in the afternoon. After class, we reported to our assigned Ward, and introduced ourselves to our R.N., Supervisor.

Miss G. was about four feet, ten inches, tall and weighed about ninety-eight pounds. She looked impressive in her starched, white uniform, white stockings, white, polished, shoes with clean, white, shoelaces, and perched on top of her head a starched, white, crinoline cap with a ruffled edge, with a black band around it. She wore her accessories with authority. Her school pin perfectly placed on her right chest, her nurses’ watch with its black, leather band and her black, winged, glasses, which she wore at the end of her nose so she could look directly into your eyes when she spoke. She was a retired Army, Staff Sergeant, probably in her middle thirties, and Single. Yes, I remember her well.

It was the first day of my first four- hour shift. Everyone gathered in the kitchen while the R.N. Supervisor dished out the diets on to a tray, from a warming cart, which we took to the bedside. I was assigned to feed a very ill young man, hooked up to an I.V. and too ill to feed himself. My patient had a bowl of Pea Soup, a glass of water, a cup of hot tea, a packet of sugar, and a glass straw. This was my first patient and the first time I would feed someone. I was scared to death.

I rolled his bed up, placed a napkin on his chest, told him my name, what I was about to do and asked him if he was comfortable. He nodded his head. I placed the glass straw into the bowl of pea soup and brought it to his lips. He was too weak to draw the soup up through the straw so I told him I would get a spoon and I would be right back.

Once in the hallway I forgot which way to the kitchen. I started back toward the Nurse’s Station and ran into Miss G. "Where do you think you’re going?" she said. "I’m looking for the kitchen." I said. "You mean to tell me you’ve been here an hour and a half and you don’t know where the kitchen is?" I looked at her with total surprise. "Yes.", I replied. She gave me directions and I was on my way.

There were lots of cupboards and drawers in the kitchen and I had no idea where they hid the tableware. I started opening drawers when I heard a sound behind me. Miss G. was standing in the doorway watching me. "Can you tell me where they keep the spoons?" I asked. "Don’t they teach you anything in that classroom? You were just in this kitchen. You don't remember where the spoons are. What kind of nurse do you think you will be if you can’t remember from fifteen minutes ago?" That was my intro to Miss G. and it was just the beginning. I finally got back to my patient but by that time, the soup was cold. I went back to the kitchen to get some warm soup. I’ll give you three guesses who was there and what happened next. The first two don’t count.

That was fifty-eight years ago. Do nurses still eat their young? Yes, they do and there is plenty of evidence to support its existence right here on the internet. Just go to any Nurse Blog or Forum and you will find page after page of comments from nurses, young and old, male and female, R.N.’s, L.P.N.’s, C.N.A;s, all venting their frustrations about the treatment they endure from NURSES WHO EAT THEIR YOUNG. Why do they do it? They do it because they can.

Fortunately, there is hope for the future. Due to Nursing Forums like this one, more and more Nurses are getting involved and looking for solutions that will end the scourge that has persisted for so many years and tarnished the good work and dedication of Nurses everywhere. Now if only someone would start teaching "How to build a team" or "Teamwork is the answer" that would be a place to start.

I Want to be a Nurse, I Want to Make a Difference

My inspirational patient
During my clinical rotation in the nursing home, I was assigned a gentleman in his 70's (we'll call Mr. Smith), as my patient. Mr. Smith had severe Alzheimer's disease, which had progressed very quickly. He had gone from sailing solo from the coast of Maine to the coast of Florida, to not being able to remember his name or that he could no longer walk, in just a few short years. This was even more depressing when I learned that he was a retired geologist, who had implemented clean drinking water systems in third world countries.

Today, he just sits in his chair, day in and day out. He can no longer care for himself, and due to what the Alzheimer's has done to his mind, neither can his wife. She visits every couple of days, but he doesn't recognize her. In his room, are a few pictures of he and his wife and of his sailboat. Although these pictures were only taken a few years ago, his looks have totally changed. Mr. Smith has a history of being combative and gets nervous when around a lot of people. Mr. Smith doesn't get a lot of attention from the staff for these reasons. I made up my mind that I was going to spend as much time interacting with Mr. Smith as I could and hopefully make a difference to him.

This was going to be difficult because Mr. Smith has trouble communicating, he is hard to understand because he mumbles and stutters. Even when you can understand him, he answers inappropriately or get tripped up on his words, get frustrated and shut down. Four days of reading his magazines to him, pointing out pictures and making small talk, had left me feeling pretty useless. He almost seemed to look right through me and I never felt like I was making a connection.

On our fifth day together, the day went like all the rest. I took him outside to sit in the courtyard, smell the fresh air and flowers and listen to the birds chirping. I helped him eat his lunch and complete his ADLs. We sat in his room, looking at his magazines and talking, of course talking meant that I was doing all the talking and he was just looking off into the distance.

When it was almost time for us to leave for the day, my instructor came into the room and spoke to us for a moment, kneeling down in front of Mr. Smith. When he left the room, Mr. Smith surprised me by saying, "He's a nice man, isn't he?" He said it so clearly and with so much meaning, it caught me off gaurd. I told him that I thought he was a nice man too. Then Mr. Smith did something I never expected and will never forget. He turned and looked me in the eyes, touched my chin and said, "And you're just the sweetest thing."

That was such a heartwarming and sentimental moment, I had to choke back a tear. I'll never forget Mr. Smith and our time together. He confirmed my desire to be a nurse so that I can help someone. To help that someone, who so many have given up on.

I really got through to him, I really made a difference.

The Ethics of Managing Your Personal Time

Ethics involves more than how we treat our patients; it involves how we treat our coworkers as well.
There’s a lot said about ethics in nursing, and much of it -- most of it, probably -- pertains toward the ethical treatment of patients. Not charting meds you haven’t given or procedures you haven’t done, admitting your med errors and setting about to mitigate the damage just as soon as you realize you’ve made an error, truth and honor in communicating with other members of the health care team. Those are all examples of nursing ethics and I won’t denigrate their value. But it seems to me that managing your personal time is as much about ethics as any of those other topics.

Nursing, especially hospital nursing, is a job that must be covered 24/7/365. Nights, weekends, holidays and the night of the biggest blizzard or biggest tornado of the year notwithstanding, our patients must be cared for. If your nurse manager is getting married and everyone wants to be there, someone still has to work. If a valued colleague is being buried and everyone wants to be there, someone still has to work.

I will never forget the day a popular night nurse was being married and 7 of the 13 nurses scheduled for the night shift developed sudden cases of the flu. Six of them were front and center trying to catch the bouquet when the manager snapped a picture . . . and all of them were sitting in her office on Monday morning signing letters of reprimand.

Most of us have so many hours of sick time. We’re supposed to use it to cover actual illnesses, although many have extended that to cover mental health days as well. That’s great if you can manage it. Our hospital’s attendance policy is so strict and so unreasonable that it mandates coming to work sick even while the written policy explicitly forbids it. If you’re disciplined for using more than three sick days a year and you’ve already had food poisoning, an abcessed tooth with a fever of 104 and a child who broke their arm jumping off the roof just as you were leaving for work, you’re either going to come to work with the flu or risk being disciplined. You’ll probably base your decision less upon how contagious you might be and more upon how many occurences you’ve already had, where you are in the disciplinary continuum and how much of a rule-follower you are.

It seems to me that ethics ought to be about managing our personal time off -- and I’m mostly talking about sick calls here -- in such a manner that you’d be happy to explain your decision making process on “Sixty Minutes” , to your priest in the confessional or to St. Peter. If you’re not sick on Christmas Day, please don’t call in sick and force the rest of us to work short. None of us want to be there on Christmas, either, and we’d appreciate a chance to sit down for lunch to enjoy the potluck we’ve all contributed to. If you’re not scheduled off the day of the unit picnic, and you can’t arrange to trade shifts with someone who isn’t interested in going, please show up for work. Calling in sick that day is just not cool. Nor is it ethical.

If your water heater explodes giving you second degree burns, by all means, call in sick. That’s what sick time is for. But most people never have that experience and I find it difficult to believe you’ve had it happen three times so far this year. Ditto with the death in the family excuse. How many grandmothers did you have, anyway? Even if we counted step-grandparents and great grandparents, eight seems to be a bit excessive.

It ought to go without saying that we treat our co-workers with honor and integrity. Unfortunately, it needs to be said.

Don’t blow off your call shifts. Saying “I forgot” just does not fly -- especially the second and third time it happens. If you’re not in the ER or the funeral home, come to work on your scheduled Christmas and Thanksgiving and if your grandmother isn’t dying, don’t say she is so you can avoid work. There are times it sucks to be a hospital nurse and come to work when everyone else is having a good time. That’s what we signed up for, though, so that’s what we ought to do.

Compassion: A Dirty Word

Language evolves, sometimes in unanticipated directions. The word "compassion", once used in a positive manner, now seems to be used mainly in bemoaning it's lack.
I’m beginning to feel as though the word “compassion” is a dirty word. Maybe it’s the way people use it these days. It doesn’t seem to be about an actual feeling of empathy toward a patient, family member or even a colleague. It seems to be more about “ME ME ME.” The word is used more as a bludgeon to impugn someone’s character, motives or behavior than as a descriptor. It’s used to induce -- or to attempt to induce -- feelings of guilt rather than to praise or validate.

“I’m pregnant and I don’t think I should have to bend, lift, take isolation patients or work twelve hour shifts. My co-workers aren’t helping me at all. Where is the compassion?” (Perhaps the co-workers are tired of being dumped on, of doing all the bending, lifting, taking isolation patients and doing 12 hour shifts while Princess is languishing at the nurses’s station complaining about her nausea and regaling all with tales of her latest OB visit.)

“A mistake was made and a patient didn’t die, but they’re firing me anyway and I can’t get unemployment. Why no compassion for me?” (Of course *I* didn’t MAKE the mistake -- it just happened. Or if I did make it, it was because the charge nurse was mean to me, my Granny is in the hospital, I didn’t get much sleep because the neighbors were so noisy and no one taught me how to give meds anyway. Just a wild guess, but no compassion for you because you’re so busy feeling sorry for yourself that you’re not taking personal responsibility for MAKING the mistake in the first place, and you don’t seem to grasp the potential ramifications of the mistake.)

“The nurse wouldn’t give me extra water after that doctor made me NPO, find a charger for my cell phone or a bed for my girlfriend to spend the night with me. She/he was polite and professional and all, but she/he wouldn’t put out the warm fuzzies and the pillow fluffing. That nurse has no compassion!” (This usually comes after the patient in question has verbally and/or physically abused the nurse and questioned his/her parentage and sexual proclivities. Nurses, being human and all, aren’t usually inclined to go above and beyond for people who aren’t nice to them.)

“You are all MEAN! You’re just jealous because I’m so much younger, smarter, better educated and more beautiful than you. It’s true that nurses eat their young. And I thought nurses were supposed to be compassionate!” (Is it really “eating your young” if the “young” is so obnoxious, entitled, lacking in basic social graces and self-centered they cannot interact as adults and professionals with the adults and professionals around them? Trust me, Honey, if you were nicer to those old, fat, dumb, uneducated and ugly nurses who work at the same place you do, you might not have cause to complain about they way they treat you. Not that that would stop you from complaining anyway . . . . .)

“It has always been my dream to be an ER nurse, but you people are all scaring me! I never want to be as jaded and cynical as you! You should all quit and find another career because you have no compassion!” (Yes, it is my mission in life to avoid scaring anyone reading a vent thread and I’ll hop right on that change of career thing -- as soon as the mortgage is paid, the bills go away and I have time and money to go back to school to learn to be something that requires no compassion!)

It’s been a long time since I’ve seen anyone use the word “compassion” in a positive way. It’s getting so I cringe when I see the word in type or hear it -- usually in a complaint because someone didn’t get everything they wanted or felt entitled to.

PH: 1 of 3 countries on Norway’s watch list for health personnel

By Macel Ingles, ABS-CBN Europe News Bureau
The Philippines landed on Norway’s state authorization office watch list for being a problem area when it comes to recruitment of health workers.
In a recent report by Norway’s national broadcaster NRK, it was revealed that an employee of the Statens Autorisasjonskontor for Helsepersonnell (SAFH) sent a letter to the health department alleging that many foreign health workers have slipped through the control of SAFH and had been authorized to work in Norway despite lack of medical training and qualification.
The letter also said that the Philippines along with Serbia and Romania had the most number of applications from health personnel with dubious credentials to work in Norway.
Confronted with the report, acting SAFH Director Jørgen Holmboe denied any knowledge of the letter and said that his office only has few cases of applications with dubious credentials.
However, he admitted that his office is overwhelmed by the number of cases being processed by the office. The SAFH has 20 employees and processes 22,000 applications for authorization to work as health personnel every year.
Hølmboe took over from SAFH’s former director Per Haugum who stepped down from his office in May this year after heavy criticism from the health department following media reports of cases of foreign health personnel authorized by SAFH to work despite lack of proper health education and training credentials.
Reacting to the report, Philippine Nurses Association-Oslo President Cesar Dela Cruz told ABS-CBN Europe in an email interview that he disagrees with the report.
“Since I began working as a nurse in 2001, I only knew one (Filipino) who applied for licensure with a falsified board certificate,” Dela Cruz wrote.
Filipino nurses Alfredo Morte and Rosemarie Ruiz who were interviewed by NRK in the same report confirmed that a number of Filipino nurses in Norway do not have proper medical credentials to work as health personnel.
“I don’t understand why these Filipinos continue to ruin our credibility in the media without any move of contacting us in the PNA so as to discuss these things and find solutions among us Filipinos. I strongly challenge these people to show us concrete evidences and I promise that they’ll get my support,” Dela Cruz further wrote.
However, Dela Cruz said that PNA is willing to cooperate with Norwegian authorities if they are deputized to do so. He also said his organization will support the call for withdrawal of visas and work permits to personnel found to have submitted fake papers to the authorization office “after they have undergone due process.”
“I can say that they can be threats to the health system of Norway and at the same time a shame for our nation,” Dela Cruz added.
Norway recruits thousands of nurses from the Philippines each year. The Philippine embassy in Oslo is currently negotiating for a bilateral agreement with the Norwegian government for the recruitment of health personnel.

CA orders freeze of 41 bank accounts

By Rey G. Panaligan
The Court of Appeals (CA), on request of the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC), has ordered a freeze for 20 days on the 41 bank accounts of an overseas employment agency on charges of illegal recruitment.
Ordered frozen were the bank accounts of the Makati City Base International Students Advisors 4U, Inc. (ISA 4U) that specializes on a “study and work program” for Filipino nurses and other professionals for deployment in the United Kingdom.
The CA identified the accounts of ISA 4U as those in the Metropolitan Bank and Trust Co. (Metrobank), Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corp. (HSBC), Banco De Oro (BDO), Philippine Savings Bank (PSB), Citibank, and Union Bank.
In a resolution written by Associate Justice Japar Dimaampao, the CA said that “…the obtaining facts and circumstances tellingly demonstrate a well-founded belief that the bank accounts in the names of respondents are related to or involved in an unlawful activity or money laundering offense.”
The freeze order, the CA explained, would prevent the banking institutions from allowing ISA 4U to withdraw, transfer, or deplete the existing funds in the accounts.
The banks were directed to submit to the CA and to AMLC a detailed return within 24 hours from receipt of the resolution stating compliance with the freeze order and specifying relevant information on the bank accounts.
The CA set a hearing on the AMLC’s request at 2 p.m. on May 5 “to determine whether or not the instant freeze order should be modified, lifted or extended.”
ISA 4U was charged with illegal recruitment in a complaint filed by the Philippine National Police-Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (PNP-CIDG).
The PNP-CIDG said ISA 4U is a domestic corporation engaged in providing advisory, marketing consultancy services of training courses, college courses and university courses of other foreign countries. - via

What nursing will be like in the FuTuRe!

In a time where our economy is shaky, government is uncertain, and a customer service driven terminally ill health care system, we all tend to wonder out of fear and anxiety what our field will be like in the future.

Let's face it ladies and gents, at the rate we're going at I don't believe many of us will be retiring as soon as we'd like to as our careers continue on unnaturally, many years from now I can easily see the following:

1) It will become common place for 90 year old nurses to be hoofing it up and down the halls of the med/surg floor comments such as, "Is it time for my lunch break yet? I'm having Jevity 1.5 tonight!" and "Damnit, go get the charge nurse I'm leaking embalming fluid again." are certain to be heard. Hospitals will have long been smoke free, but to show compassion to their nursing staff with COPD smoke breaks will be replaced with 2 ten minute nebulizer and Solu-Medrol breaks.

2) To receive health care in this town is to revieve health care YOUR way! That's right, ER's will have a drive through option! I can just hear it now...
"Hello sir, I would like a monitored telemetry bed for the #2 Pneumonia and CHF combo with a large dose of Avelox, a medium dose of Lasix with extra duonebs. And my daughter would like a non telemetry bed for the nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain triple, Dilaudid and Phenergan only please, oh and let's make her admission a 23 hour obs, she's got a date tomorrow night."

3) Nursing Homes will be exactly that, homes for nurses who are too demented to continue working, they'll still be allowed to dress in scrubs and be encouraged to continue "working" within the safe confines of an ill-reputed rest home. Picture all the granny nurses feeding their doll babies ice cream saying things such as "You'll eat your full liquid diet and like it, sonny!" The staff will actually be security guards charged with the duty of keeping us under control, after all by this point we nurses will have become quite violent after all the crap we've gone through.

4) Back at the hospital, fall risk assessments will be for employees only. Hospital visitors will be encouraged to assist any nurse they see with an armband that says "FALL RISK", please assist that nurse to the next room so that she/he may continue performing their duties on the next patient SAFELY!

5) Risk Management will be renamed "Disc Management" in an attempt to help all the aching backs of their loyal health care workers and to determine "who's at risk for slippin' a disc!"

In all seriousness, I do worry tremendously about never being able to retire, working until I'm literally too feeble physically or mentally to work anymore, and about the general state of health care. However, I do find that making light of it makes the worry less intense. Please feel free to add your vision of what futuristic health care will be like!!!

Nursing Ethics: About The Weather

What happens when the nurse who doesn't believe in calling in sick......calls in sick.
Come to think of it, I guess this could have been called "Bashed by Bronchitis", or "Flattened by the Flu", because elements of both illnesses have reared their ugly little heads during the past few days. It started out as a head cold and quickly evolved into fever, sore throat, body aches, and a cough that's turned my chest into raw hamburger; in short, I feel like I've been run over by a truck. While it's nothing like the pneumonia I had in February of 2010 (actually, there isn't much that IS like that, thank God), after spending this entire winter feeling like something the dog found under the house, I am, quite literally, sick and tired of being sick and tired.

I've long prided myself on my stellar immune system, which used to be strong enough to fight off the squirrels in the front yard. While everyone around me was dropping like flies, I soldiered on, taking care of the sick and the weakened, my invisible coat of armor protecting me from all invaders. I figured that I owed it all to being a nurse; after all, we get exposed to just about everything under the sun, and if it doesn't kill us, it makes us almost invincible.


Which has made it increasingly difficult to stick to my policy of never calling in sick unless I can't get my head a) out of the toilet, or b) off the pillow. Today, I wasn't totally flat on my back, but the potential consequences of spreading my pestilence to the residents and staff at my ALF were too horrible to be contemplated......and if truth be told, I really didn't relish the prospect of having to exchange my warm, comfy sweats for chilly polyester and making that 40-mile commute.

Now, calling in sick---even when I'd have to get better to die---is harder for me than giving a speech in front of a roomful of people. I lay there in my recliner, cell phone in hand, rehearsing my excuse over and over again, feeling as guilty as if I were sneaking off to the beach instead of being genuinely ill. And when I finally scared up enough courage to hit the speed-dial button (it's "2" on my Favorites list) and talk to my boss, he........wasn't in yet. I wound up talking to the marketing director, who said something like "Oh, my gosh, I didn't even recognize your voice---you sound TERRIBLE!" and promised me she'd let him know that I wasn't coming in today.

Instantly, I felt even worse: what if she forgot to tell him? What if he thought I just didn't bother to show up, like the last nurse who worked in this building? This is my dream job, I don't want to lose it by being considered a no-show, maybe I should just pull myself together and go in anyway.........

Next thing I knew, it was two hours later. I probably would've slept even longer had I not begun coughing up what felt like part of a lung, and wheezing so audibly I could barely hear myself think. I wished for a dose of the wonderful cough syrup they gave me when I was so sick with the pneumonia last year. I wanted to reach down my throat and scratch until it bled. My tongue itched. My teeth were furry and disgusting. Even my husband didn't want to kiss me. My son, the CNA and newly-minted medication aide, suddenly appeared and loomed over me with his six-foot-one-inches, peering at me with a practiced eye: "Mom," he said cheerfully, "you look like crap."

"I love you too," I retorted. He was the one who'd caught this bug from his fiancee and promptly passed it along to his aunt, his dad, and now me.......and yet, he hadn't missed a day of work. So why did I feel so lousy then?

"That's because you're older and you're a diabetic," he pronounced, looking extraordinarily pleased at his expert assessment as he pecked me on the forehead. "You've just got to take better care of yourself, Mom. Gotta go to work now, see you later!"

I wanted to smack him for his impertinence, but I was moving too slowly to do more than swat at him as he sailed out the door. Smart-aleck kid.....he's got just enough medical knowledge to be a huge PITA. Can't imagine where he came by it. But when I dragged my sorry carcass into the bathroom and got a good look at myself in the mirror, I had to admit he'd been right about one thing: I did look like crap. More to the point, I looked like something the dog had not only found under the house, but tossed around the yard for awhile, buried, dug up again, and deposited on the living-room rug.

This evening, I'm feeling marginally better......still sneezing and wheezing and freezing, but now that the gunk in my lungs is breaking up and I've been able to eat some soup and toast, I think maybe I just. might. live.

Anybody know where I can get my hands on some Phenergan-with-codeine cough syrup??

University's student visas halted

A university has been suspended from sponsoring foreign students after concerns were raised that the student visa system is being abused.
Glasgow Caledonian University is the first university to have its international licence suspended by the UK Borders Agency (UKBA).
It is understood concerns were raised over the amount of time nursing students from the Philippines were spending working during their course following an inspection by UKBA last week.
The university now has 28 days to demonstrate to the Home Office that it has addressed the concerns or it may have its licence revoked.
Phil Taylor, UKBA regional director in Scotland and Northern Ireland, said: "I can confirm that Glasgow Caledonian University's tier 4 licence has been suspended following concerns about abuses of the immigration system.
"Highly trusted sponsors bringing in international students must ensure that they are attending the course for which they are enrolled and that they are complying with the requirements of the immigration rules. The UK Border Agency makes regular checks on sponsors, and where we find evidence that they are not fulfilling their duties, we may suspend their licence."
New rules governing student visas, including stricter entrance criteria and limits on work entitlements, came into force in the UK on Thursday.
A Glasgow Caledonian University spokeswoman said: "GCU (Glasgow Caledonian University) is co-operating with the UK Border Agency to address issues specific to a group of international students on the BSC nursing (professional development) and we expect to have these resolved in the near future.
"As conversations are ongoing, the UKBA has asked the university to implement a 28-day suspension of our processing of immigration paperwork, as their processes require.
"While we feel that this action is disproportionate, we are working with them to fully understand the issues and implement any changes needed as a result. Our duty of care to our students is our absolute priority and they have time and again recognised that by voting us top in Scotland for international student support. We are proud of that and will ensure it remains the case as we make any changes requested of us."
Copyright © 2011 The Press Association. All rights reserve

Pinoy nurse, teen win Twitter Shorty Awards

Filipinos were among the winners in the 3rd annual Shorty Awards, said to be the “Oscars” of Twitter, according to The New York Times.
The Shorty Awards gives recognition to people and organizations doing short-form and real time social media content.
The winners are chosen based on the number of votes garnered on Twitter and the votes cast by members of the Real-time Academy of Short Form Arts and Sciences.
In the new “Nurse” category this year, the Nurse of the Year Award was to be given to someone they said is “making a difference through social media.”
Two winners were picked for this category. One is Matthew Browning, chief executive officer of
The other winner is Filipino nurse Ronivin Pagtakhan, an educator.
Pagtakhan, who teaches nursing at Mapua, uses Twitter to help other people.
“Para sa akin, sa tingin ko, kaya ako napili kasi nakakatulong talaga ako sa nursing profession,” he said.
Pagtakhan is happy about the international award as it can help uplift the image of the Pinoy nurse.
“Sana sa pagkapanalo ko na ito ay makatulong ako sa image ng Pinoy nurses para naman makakuha pa tayo ng mas maraming mga job opportunities kasi alam kong marami tayong nurses na walang trabaho,” he said.
Aside from Pagtakhan, Ann Li of “PBB Teen Clash” also won a Shorty Award.
The teen won in the fashion category. – Report from TJ Manotoc, ABS-CBN News

First newspaper for docs, health care professionals out soon

To keep doctors, nurses and other health care professionals abreast of all new developments which impact health care delivery in the country, FAME Inc. is coming out with Vital Signs, the first of its kind newspaper for them.
Vital Signs will include opinions, commentaries and views of respected leaders in the medical profession and government who all share the common vision of better health care for all Filipinos, especially those belonging to the marginalized sectors.
The list of columnists of Vital Signs include Sen. Edgardo Angara; Health Secretary Enrique Ona; former Health secretary Esperanza Cabral; Dr. Oscar Tinio, president of the Philippine Medical Association; Dr. Ramon Abarquez Jr.; Dr. Saturnino Javier; Dr. Anthony Leachon; Dr. Maya Santos; and Dr. Cynthia Cuayo-Juico.
The newspaper will feature articles and commentaries from some of the country’s top doctors and medical practitioners.
This would also allow doctors and other health care professionals to know what their respected colleagues say on current scientific, socioeconomic, political and other issues that impact healthcare in our country.
It will also serve as a medium for local medical societies to disseminate updates regarding their advocacies and activities.
“We hope to empower doctors, dentists, nurses and other health care professionals with scientific, socioeconomic, legislative and other news which are relevant to their practice,” says Dr. Rafael Castillo, Vital Signs editor.
He added that the insights and opinions of respected columnists can also help guide the readers of Vital Signs in various decisions they need to make as health care stakeholders aiming to improve the practice of their respective professions and health care delivery in the country.
Vital Signs comes in three sections. The main section contains hard news and commentaries, opinion columns, activities of hospitals, medical organizations and the pharmaceutical industry.
The second section is called Hippocrates which contains scientific and clinical updates, nursing updates, and medical issues and controversies.
The third section, called Off-Duty, is the lifestyle section which includes articles on dining, travel, fashion, motoring, finance and sports.
Vital Signs is published by FAME Inc., which also publishes several full-color glossy magazines such as H&L (Health & Lifestyle), Zen Health, Travel Plus, DiabetEASE and Disney. - via

Filipino nurses working in Wales tell their stories

Katherine Casaban-Rose
Katherine Casaban-Rose
Last year 8,500 nurses and midwives came from abroad to work in the UK, many from countries such as India, Pakistan and the Philippines. This year, with foreign recruits set to outstrip the number of newly-qualified British nurses for the first time, Clare Hutchinson spoke to nurses who travelled from the Philippines to work here in Wales
KATHERINE Cabasan-Rose was 26 when she first moved to the UK a decade ago.
At first it was a strain to leave family and friends behind but the money, she said, was worth it.
Ten years on and 36-year-old Katherine has a Welsh husband, a five-year-old daughter and earns a decent wage as a ward manager at the burns unit at Morriston Hospital in Swansea.
It is a far cry from life in her more “primitive” homeland, where the average monthly wage for a nurse is around 700 Philippine Pesos, the equivalent of £100.
Katherine trained as a nurse in Tuguegarao City, in the far north of the country.
Nurses in the Philippines, she said, are trained to work hard and fast because of the sheer numbers of patients who come through the country’s private healthcare system on a daily basis.
Emphasis is on getting the patients “in and out” and it is this work ethic, and the attraction of wages, that makes the Philippines such fertile ground for NHS recruitment.
When Katherine moved to the UK after three years in Saudi Arabia she saw it as a stop-off point on her way to the USA.
“I wanted to move to the UK because I thought it would be easier to get to the States from there,” she said.
“I came straight to Wales and when I arrived I found I liked it – wherever you go people smile and chat with you.
“I went to New York for a holiday to see what it would be like working there and the people seemed to be snappy and I thought, ‘maybe I don’t want to work here after all’.”
Katherine now lives with her Welsh husband Andrew, 39, and their daughter Elizabeth in Llandough, near Penarth, where she plans to stay until she and Andrew retire, after which they will spend their summers in Wales and winters in the Philippines, because, she said: “The one thing I can’t get used to here is the weather.”
She stays in touch with her classmates from Tuguegarao City on Facebook and finds them scattered around the world in countries as far-flung as America and Australia.
When Katherine first came to Wales, she said, the language barrier was hard and it was sometimes difficult to mix socially with her non-Filipino colleagues.
But now on a works’ night out she is happy to be the only non-drinker and on a recent international day at her daughter’s school she spent 20 minutes telling the children about the Philippines and letting them taste its traditional dishes.
She said: “I’m happy here because I have been given a good opportunity, we have a good standard of living and I have friends here.
“It is an opposite culture to back home, which is a bit primitive, although it is becoming more Westernised.
“I go home every year because it is the only time I can see my family, but it is like my mum says, ‘love your life, but don’t forget us’.
“I do love my life and I love my job – as far as I’m concerned it is the best job in the world.”
Jaime Menor moved to Wales from his country’s capital, Manila, in 1999.
The dad of one, who works in the intensive care unit at the University Hospital of Wales, took a job in the UK for financial reasons.
It is part of Filipino culture for working people to help their families by sending money to parents, cousins, aunts and uncles – whoever is in need.
Jaime, 38, who lives in Llanrumney with his Filipino wife Mary, 31, and their four-year-old son Elijah, said: “I responded to the recruitment drive at the time primarily for financial reasons, because the wages here are much better than back home, and also as a way to help my family.
“I was apprehensive to start with because I didn’t know what to expect or what life would be like here.
“I knew it would be an expensive place to live, but the worst thing for me was being away from my family.”
When Jaime arrived in the UK he came straight to Cardiff, where he has stayed ever since.
“It is very good here,” he said.
“Cardiff in particular is not a big city but it has a cosmopolitan life and at the same time you can get out of the city and experience the country.”
When it comes to his work, there are some striking differences between the private healthcare system in the Philippines and public NHS in Wales.
“Obviously you are treating people with the same conditions and in similar ways, but you find that because in the Philippines it is all private, once you get better you are out of there because the longer you stay the more you spend.
“Here, because of the NHS, you stay as long as you need to.
“As a nurse working in the Philippines you just treat people and discharge them, but here you are looking at the total needs of the patient.
“You look at how old they are and ask will they cope? Are they living alone? Are they safe? If they aren’t then you talk to certain agencies. And, of course, there is lots and lots of paperwork. That is what I found difficult adjusting to at first.
“It is much better here in the UK, but I think we can still improve, for example waiting lists for surgery are still very long, but then if it is something acute, if you are unwell, you can go to the emergency unit and get treated straight away, which is wonderful.”
Up until January, Jaime was working at the smaller intensive care unit at Llandough Hospital where, he said, he had a good relationship with his colleagues.
He said: “We really enjoyed each others’ company and we knew each other very well.
“There has been a bit of a change and I work in the Heath now and I am having to get used to new people and new equipment, but everyone is very helpful and supportive.”
Jaime’s wife Mary, who is also a nurse, moved to the UK four years ago after the couple met in the Philippines during one of his annual visits.
But while both have family back home, they have no intention of leaving their adoptive country.
“I have invested too much here in Wales,” said Jaime.
“I have got a mortgage, a little boy, I know people here and I’ve established friends – Filipino and Welsh.
“We are more or less settled and I think this will be it, although if I win the lottery I will buy a much bigger house.
“I’m an adopted Welshman and I’m here for good.”

Nurses recruited to offset shortage

Recruitment agencies are to hire hundreds of nurses in coming months after a surge in demand from new health care facilities caused a nationwide shortage.
Nurses are being recruited from countries including the Philippines, Lebanon, Jordan, Syria and India to staff new medical centres as well as three hospitals opening this year in Sharjah, Fujairah and Ajman.
Dr Sanjiv Malik, the executive director at DM Healthcare Group in Dubai, said the expansion in health care required not only more workers, but workers with new skills.
"New hospitals are opening and there are new specialities coming up in the UAE," he said.
"Ten years ago, people used to travel overseas for treatment, but health care is becoming bigger and better here."
The recruitment drive complements efforts to woo Emiratis into the sector by combating perceptions of nursing being a low-wage, low-status job with limited career opportunities.
A forum will be held on Monday at the American Hospital in Dubai to outline a framework allowing nurses to pursue specialisities, such as paediatrics or geriatrics, that offer higher salaries and better career prospects.
The shortage of nurses is a "global phenomenon" that made hiring nurses extremely competitive, said Dr Malik.
"It exists in countries such as the US, England and even in India, with the majority of the nurses there leaving the country to work overseas."
In February, Al Qarain Healthcare Centre opened in Sharjah, with facilities including two dental clinics, a radiology and laboratory department and a pharmacy.
Five further medical facilities are being built in Sharjah, Ajman and Ras al Khaimah, which are expected to cost a total Dh1.25 billion, according to the ministry.

The UAE's medical recruitment drive will involve the hiring of more than 700 staff at the University Hospital - Sharjah, the emirate's first teaching hospital, which is due to open at the end of this month, according to sources at the hospital.
Peteromy Dominic Palacio, 28, who works as an HR co-ordinator at the hospital, said they were hiring nurses from the Philippines, the Indian subcontinent and Arab countries. Last year, the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration in Manila approved the hospital's request to hire 70 nurses through a recruitment agency.
Edna Rance, a business development manager at Reach Consulting in Abu Dhabi, helped the hospital recruit 50 nurses from the Philippines in June last year. It was one of several recruitment projects she worked on for the Abu Dhabi Health Services Company and the federal Ministry of Health.
"Several new hospitals are opening in the UAE," she said. "This year, we expect to hire at least 200 nurses on behalf of our clients."

In January last year, her group helped the Ministry of Health hire 100 nurses from Jordan and 228 nurses from the Philippines for Masafi Hospital in Fujairah. A delegation from the Ministry of Health flew to both countries to conduct the licensing exam and interview applicants.
Private nursing companies also contribute to the demand for nurses. Al Hilal Nursing and Medical Services in Dubai said in February it planned to hire 200 nurses to add to its staff of 30 nurses and three physiotherapists. The company outsources nurses to schools and private clinics and provides home care to Emiratis and expatriates in Dubai. Half of the staff will be sent to schools, private clinics and homes. The rest will work at a private hospital in Dubai that is due to open in June.
Recruitment is only the first hurdle to overcome. In the UAE, nurses cannot be hired directly after passing their licensure exams. Employers must check their credentials, including their university degree and experience certificates, which can take up to six months.
"While it ensures the quality of nurses that are hired and that all their credentials are correct, it may lead to an artificial manpower shortage," Dr Malik said.
* With reporting by Mitya Underwood and Bana Qabbani

DOLE honors 1st Pinoy passer of Japanese nursing exam

Being the first Filipino to pass the Japanese Nursing Licensure Examinations, the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) honored Ever Gammed Lalin as the Woman OFW Achiever of 2011.
“Ever Lalin made history being an exceptional woman achiever in migration. She had proven that Filipino nurses, and OFWs in general, are professionally competent and skilled as they join the world labor market,” DOLE Secretary Rosalinda Dimaplis-Baldoz said in a press statement.
Baldoz said the department cited Lalin’s achievement as the Japanese Nursing Licensure Examinations is “famed for its difficulty.”
Lalin was the only passer of the exam taken by 254 foreign board takers.
Baldoz, along with POEA Administrator Carlos Cao Jr., welcomed Lalin’s family in an awarding ceremony at the DOLE Building in Intramuros, Manila, last week.
Aside from the award she accepted, Lalin also received an overseas exit clearance (OEC) from the DOLE, which frees her from the lengthy clearance processing. - (Edward Sumile/ trainee)

More Pinoy nurses heading to Japan for licensure exam

Despite a devastating earthquake and tsunami that hit Japan this month and the ensuing nuclear accident, a third batch of over 80 Filipino nurses are scheduled to go there on May 30 for a language training in preparation for that country’s tough licensure examinations.
In a press briefing, Japanese Ambassador Makoto Katsura said a total of 82 Filipinos will leave for Japan to undergo intensive Japanese language training there, after a two-month preparatory language course in Manila to be conducted by Japanese instructors.
“Although I have no doubts that you will be able to fulfill your duties and responsibilities as healthcare professionals in Japan, I am also aware that one of the most difficult obstacles for passing the Japanese nursing licensure examinations is the language barrier,” Katsura said at the formal launch of the training course.
This is the first time that Japan is implementing a preparatory language course prior to the applicants’ departure for Japan. Only two of the 139 Filipino nurses in previous batches passed that country’s licensure exam.
Apart from the preparatory course, Japan has also revised its licensure exam for foreign nurses and caregivers to boost the passing rate of health workers. (See: Japan cuts Filipino nurses some slack)
The revisions include the use of English words for medical terms originally in Japanese, like diabetes, cataract and pulmonary tuberculosis.
Since 2009, the Philippines has sent a total of 139 nurses and 299 caregivers to train in Japan through the controversial Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement (JPEPA) signed in 2006.
Various groups had earlier questioned JPEPA’s constitutionality before the Supreme Court, saying the treaty violates constitutional provision on trade, natural resources, labor, education, mass media legislation, public utilities and foreign policy. (See: Groups question Jpepa constitutionality at SC)
The Japanese Embassy said it has been taking steps to help Filipino nurses maximize employment opportunities for Filipino nurses under the treaty.
“This demonstrates the perseverance and dedication of both countries to take initiatives in improving the standing of Filipino candidate nurses in particular, especially in successfully integrating them, through language,” Katsura explained.
Nurses who fail Japan’s licensure tests in Japan can only re-take the exam within the period they are allowed to stay in Japan.
If they still fail the examination, the nurses would have to return to the Philippines to apply again for training.
Apart from the six months of paid language training, Filipino nurses and caregivers are employed in Japanese hospitals and care-giving facilities for three years and four years, respectively, to familiarize themselves with the country’s healthcare system.
During that time, nurses undergoing work-training receive an average monthly salary of 130,000 yen to 220,000 yen (about P68,000 to P115,000) For caregivers, the monthly salary ranges from 125,000 yen to 185,000 yen (about P65,000 to P96,000).— With Jerrie M. Abella/JV, GMA News

Nurses Press Government for Jobs, Decent Pay and Outright Ban of ‘Volunteer for a Fee Training’ Scheme

MANILA – After a House resolution was passed last month urging President Benigno Aquino III to halt the “exploitative practice of collecting training fees from professional and registered nurses under various forms of ‘volunteer training programs’ by public and private hospitals”, hospitals reportedly got alarmed. “They stopped for a while, but now they’re coming back with different methods of ‘volunteer training for a fee’”, said nurse Leah Paquiz, president of an organization of nurses called Ang Nars.
Some hospitals have also retaliated against young nurses who exposed the volunteer/training-for-a-fee scheme.
“Forty-six of us nurses who had paid the hospital for our ‘training’ were dismissed when we made it known to the country that we are ‘volunteers’. It’s very wrong but nurses can’t speak out for fear of being blacklisted,” said Philip So Chan. Chan has a visa and could have opted to work abroad but he chose to remain in the country to “develop health care here.” His noble intention was repaid by being forced to swalow the volunteer-for-a fee scheme so that he could gain work experience to qualify for a full-time regular nursing job.
Under the guise of specialty training, some hospitals today have continued the “volunteer for a fee training scheme,” which has been happening in the Philippines for more than a decade now. This highly irregular scheme was exposed only recently and is being opposed more strongly and openly by nurses’ groups with the support of progressive lawmakers.
This so-called volunteerism has “prostituted” the concept of bayanihan or voluntary cooperation as a Filipino tradition, said Dr Teresita I. Barcelo, president of the Philippine Nurses Association. Under the detested scheme, nurses who have already been trained and licensed are still being forced to submit to another layer of “training” in hospitals.
It is a very “clear unfair labor practice on two grounds”, said Barcelo. One, registered and licensed nurses already have “the necessary skills and knowledge to perform regular nursing functions in the hospital.” As such, undergoing a ‘volunteer for a fee’ as training is “not a prerequisite for hiring.” Two, Barcelo said, registered nurses doing volunteer work concretely augment the deficit of nursing staff in many hospitals where the standard 1 : 10 nurse-patient ratio is not being met.
Public and private hospitals are reportedly making a killing through the scheme, because they are reaping profits and they do not have to hire the required number of regular or permanent nurses. They are taking advantage, instead, of the newly licensed nursing graduates who not only work for them without salaries and hazard benefits, but even pay certain amount of fees.
The fees can cost from P1,000 ($23.11) to P10,000 ($231) per month, for a one-month to three-months “training.”
No Surplus Nurses, Only Exploited Nurses
“Too many nurses are suffering today,” said Paquiz. “All over the country, major stakeholders are private hospitals – they don’t open new positions. (They) Do not hire regular workers. Nurses could not oppose this arrangement. Often they have no choice but to submit themselves to this arrangement. From three months to three years, they work as ‘volunteers’ but they are still not absorbed as regular nurses in hospitals”.
“If you take the proper nurse to patient ratio in this country,” Paquiz said, “more than 364,000 nurses are actually needed, meaning the more than 200,000 unemployed nurses can easily be absorbed.”
All over the country, the services of nurses is needed especially in community hospitals and rural health clinics, but owing to the volunteer-for-a-fee practice of private health facilities, compounded by the low government budget for health, which had also meant reducing rather than increasing the number of employed nurses, the Philippines finds itself today “in a situation where it seemingly has surplus nurses but it also has a pressing need for their services”, said the group Nars ng Bayan.
Following the progressive partylist representatives’ series of house resolutions against the practice, Rep Edgar S. San Luis filed House Bill 767, seeking to penalize all hospitals, both public and private, which demand payment from graduate nurses in exchange for actual nursing experience gained while working in a particular hospital.
Rep Philip Pichay, also the chairman of the committee on health, promised the nurses that he would support this bill, because, he said, “For as long as we don’t remove those volunteers, the hospitals will always take advantage of them. There will always be unemployed nurses. If you’re going to still have that, and you’ll implement SSL-3, the government will lose out. It’s not as if the nurses are really being trained…. They’re being treated worse than a servant, and yet they’re the ones paying the hospital, I find that revolting,” said Pichay during the roundtable discussion with Gabriela and nurses.
Deterioration of Healthcare System, Nurses’ Working Conditions
If hospitals can find ways to save on wages and even earn from nurses, it can also find ways to scrimp on the labor cost of the regular or permanent health personnel they have. There is now also a “phenomenon of outsourcing” in the nursing profession in the country where hospitals employ lower-paid “agency hired nurses,” said Jocelyn Andamo, a registered nurse who had worked as community nurse since she graduated in 1993.
As a community nurse, Andamo said she and her fellow nurses from Nars ng Bayan (Association of Community Health Workers and People’s health Advocates) have seen first-hand the vicious cycle of poverty and ill-health and the need for nurses in many underserved communities.
“While there are thousands of qualified nurses, the irony is that many poor sectors and communities especially those in remote areas continue to be underserved and deprived of even basic health care services,” said Eleanor M. Nolasco, president of Nars ng Bayan, in a statement. The group disputed the claims of labor department secretary Rosalinda Baldoz that plantilla positions for nurses in the public health system are already filled up.
“The fact remains that there is an acute need for more nurses and other health professionals to serve in the communities and in public hospitals that are generally ill-equipped and seriously understaffed,” said Nolasco.
The nurses’ group urged Health Secretary Enrique Ona to ban outright this “illegal, unethical, and exploitative practice of ‘volunteerism for a fee’ and at the same time, to provide employment opportunities for nurses with corresponding professional development and advancement programs.”
The nurses’ groups criticized as mere stop-gap the government’s various short-term, low-paying programs supposedly to ease the nursing unemployment problem. These programs include the RN HEALS, which like its predecessor, NARS or Nurses Assigned to Rural Service, “falls short of compensation for the nurses who are expected to do critical development work and provide quality nursing care in a community setting,” said Andamo of Nars ng Bayan.
Most nurses groups are united in saying that the government should adequately increase the national health budget to ensure quality health care at the same time ensuring the just compensation for nurses and other health workers.

Behind the nursing glut

For Filipino nurses and nursing students, the promise of a better future is hinged on the perceived huge demand for nurses abroad. As of late, however, it appears that this no longer holds true.

The foreign markets' demand for Filipino nurses remained strong up until the middle of the last decade.

The Philippine Nurses Association, Inc. (PNA) has noted that the demand from top destinations such as the US and the UK already plateaued in 2006 when quotas for visas in the US had already been filled up.

In the UK, the policy shift favoring homegrown health workers also resulted in fewer Filipino nursing recruits.

Data from the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) showed that about 34,000 nurses were deployed abroad from 1995 to 2001. In 2001 alone the country sent nearly 14,000 nurses to 131 countries.

More recently, in 2009, the number of nurses sent abroad grew by only 6.7% to 13,456 from the previous year. This was much lower than the 40% increase from 9,004 in 2007 to 12,618 in 2008. The decline was attributed to the global economic slowdown -- a sign of the market's susceptibility to external shocks.

Still, Philippines continues to produce more nurses than the domestic and global economies can absorb.

Unofficial estimates now place the oversupply of Filipino nurses at around 150,000 as of 2008. The PNA earlier noted that as many as 1,500 qualified nurses were waiting to be employed by major hospitals in 2008. The waiting period for employment ranges from six to 12 months.

Observers cited the rapid increase in the number of nursing schools in the country for the glut. Blogger and nursing researcher Jessie Simbulan reported that there were 460 accredited nursing schools in the country in 2008.

Of particular concern, too, is the proliferation of schools offering Licensed Practical Nursing (LPN) programs, a two-year non-degree course that focuses only on the basics of nursing.

This, despite the apparent preference by foreign employers for graduates of the four-year college-degree nursing course over the two-year program.

There are a number of ways to address the glut, but many proposals revolve around ensuring the quality of the nursing curriculum to produce qualified graduates. To do this, there is a need to close down under and non-performing nursing schools.

The Commission on Higher Education has identified 112 non-performing schools out of the over 400 nursing schools in the country. It is said that only less than 20% of their graduates are passing the nursing board exams.

The PNA has already asked the Commission on Higher Education to put a stop to the proliferation of underperforming schools and move to establish new or improve the quality of the existing Licensed Practical Nursing (LPN) programs.

Despite these efforts, the glut of Filipino nurses is expected to persist. Recent reports put the number of new nursing graduates this year at 40,000, most of whom will likely join the ranks of the underemployed and unemployed.

With this, it seems that the nursing program is no longer a reliable option to exit out of poverty.

The Institute for Development and Econometric Analysis, Inc. (IDEA) is an economic think-tank based in the University of the Philippines - Diliman. For inquiries on IDEA, please contact Eduard Robleza at

48 Filipinos missing in quake-hit Japan

Of the 4,500 Filipinos in the northern part of Japan, 48 remain unaccounted for according to the Website of the Philippine Embassy in Tokyo, following the 9-magnitude earthquake that flattened the northeast area of Honshu Island on 11 March.
Among the missing is a five-month-old, in a report by Malaya.
The 124 Filipino nurses and 249 caregivers in the Tohoku area were reported to be safe, the Philippine Overseas and Employment Administration said.
The Embassy may be reached through their 24-hour hotline numbers (03)5562-1570, (03)5562-1577 and (03)5562-1590 or through email:
There had been no reported fatalities to this time, said the report.
According to emissary Manolo Manuel Lopez, the Embassy is waiving the processing fees for Filipinos in the four prefectures that were heavily hit by the disaster: Fukushima, Ibaraki, Iwate and Miyagi in a report by ABS-CBN.
Lopez added that the government could not shoulder the travel expenses of Filipinos who want to return from Tokyo to Manila.
Earlier today, the ANC reported that the Embassy has waived overseas employment certificate fee, which means overseas Filipino workers will not have to pay travel tax and terminal fee.
It was also reported that some foreign governments have advised their citizens within the 80-kilometer radius of the Fukushima Dai-Ichi to evacuate the area.
An additional two more buses will be deployed today to fetch more Philippine nationals from Fukushima to Tokyo. This will reach out to between 100 and 120 people.
Six Filipino sailors returned to Manila from the devastated country.
Meanwhile, Presidential Spokesman Edwin Lacierda said on 16 March that pending Tokyo's confirmation, the country will be sending a C-130 plane to the disaster-hit country to bring relief goods like water and noodles. Noodles?
"For those who would want to leave Japan but has no means, the C-130 could be used to bring them home," Lacierda said.
The plane is expected to land at the Narita International Airport and will wait for Filipinos who want to be repatriated although there is no schedule yet.
Japan is currently at Alert Level 2, which means that the state is allowing for voluntary repatriation.
If the alert were raised to the highest, which is 3, the repatriation becomes the government's responsibility, according to Department of Foreign Affairs acting Secretary Albert del Rosario.
Del Rosario further said that the Philippine government is prepared to shoulder the travel of expenses of the 300,000 Filipinos in Japan, 200,000 of whom live in the capital city in the event the alert were raised to 3.
A bus sent by the Embassy carrying 42 Filipinos from Sendai arrived in Tokyo on Wednesday. They are seeking refuge at a Catholic Church in Kichijogi.
Fr. Resty Ogsimer from the Franciscan Chapel Center in Tokyo, posted these messages on Facebook, "With your prayers and support, the 43 evacuees, 23 adults and 20 children are all okay. Their meals are settled until dinner tomorrow. Thanks to all who have volunteered and shared their resources and time. In the meantime, we need volunteers who speak Japanese who can entertain and play with the children. Thank you!
"For those who are willing to donate money via Postal Services, here is the account: Post Office Account, Number: 00150-5-120640, Catholic Tokyo International Center Sanjokai- Jishin. This is free of charge. Any amount will do as long as it is from the heart. Thank you!" from Fr. Ogsimer.
Watch the attached YouTube video showing the negotiations between Filipino residents in Sendai and Embassy officials in the thick of the action.

Filipino health workers draw praise in Libya

Manila: While most overseas workers in Libya had been trying to leave, Filipina nurses in the embattled North African country are drawing praise for their commitment to their vocation.
Reports reaching Manila said that thousands of Filipino nurses and medical staff have chosen to brave and wait out the several weeks of political strife out of professional commitment.
Foreign Affairs Undersecretary Esteban Conejos said that despite a move by the Philippine government to offer repatriation to Filipinos who volunteer to get out of Libya, some 8,000 nurses and other medical workers chose to stay despite the obvious risk to their lives.
"Our nurses deserve our admiration and also, I guess it's the reason Libyan people love Filipinos there," he said recently upon his return to Manila at the end of a two-week visit to Libya and Tunisia.
There are 1,300 Filipino nurses employed by the Tripoli Medical Centre — one of the largest hospital in Libya — and a further 600 at the Benghazi Medical Centre
Strategic areas
The fighting between government forces of Muammar Gaddafi and rebels had been largely confined to strategic areas in Tripoli and Benghazi and medical facilities in these locales are hard-pressed attending to civilian as well as military casualties. Conejos said that because of the commitment shown by Filipino medical workers, they have earned the respect of not only the Libyans, but other foreign nationals as well.
Prior to the outbreak of protests against the government of Gaddafi, the Department of Foreign Affairs said there were 26,000 Filipinos in Libya at any given time.
These Philippine nationals include skilled workers, information technology professionals, engineers, oil field workers, technicians as well as medical workers.
As of Friday, the DFA said nearly 14,000 Filipinos have left Libya. Of this number, more than 6,000 are already in Manila.
Earlier, Labour and Employment Secretary Rosalinda Dimapilis-Baldoz said her department's National Reintegration Centre for Overseas (NRCO) Filipino workers is ready with appropriate programmes for returnees, particularly those who have arrived and those yet to arrive from Libya.
She said mechanisms to ensure their smooth reintegration to mainstream Philippine society are in place.
Reintegration initiatives
"Even before this crisis in Libya erupted, the NRCO has already established various reintegration programmes for OFWs (Overseas Filipino Workers)," said Dimapilis-Baldoz, adding that as early as November last year President Benigno Aquino instructed the Labour Department to set aside one billion pesos (Dh84.5 million) for the reintegration programme.
At least one out of every 10 Filipinos is employed in jobs overseas and with the current situation in North Africa and the Middle East, the Philippines could be forced to adapt measures that will allow its remittances-dependent economy to catch up with the rapidly developing changes abroad.

Nursing dream fades for Filipinos as UK jobs dry up

By Sarah Boseley - 
Just over 10 years ago, in a major speech to a nursing conference in Brighton, Tony Blair promised to boost a desperately short-staffed NHS with 20,000 extra nurses. Not even Blair, though, could claim to be able to magic up that many British nurses – training takes at least three years – so instead, the NHS began importing them in huge numbers from across the globe.
They came in droves – particularly from India and the Philippines, where hundreds of private nursing schools were set up to meet this new demand from the UK, and also the US. Before long, every Philippine higher education institution had to have a nursing school or face closure from lack of business. A multitude of recruitment agencies were spawned there too, offering to sort out job, travel and visa for nurses lured by the promise of a lucrative salary on the other side of the world.
A decade later, however, the picture is very different. Britain has retrenched. Cutbacks, coupled with the European Union’s rules on free movement of labour, mean few nursing vacancies for anyone from outside Europe these days.
Yet in the Philippines the production line continues to roll. Last year an estimated 100,000 nurses were in training there, the vast majority attracted by false promises of jobs in the west. Many of the country’s recruitment agencies – often employing British advisers – are flirting with, if not flouting, the law, taking a fat fee for the promise of a job they cannot deliver.
One case, in particular, has gained national attention there. Two Britons, Simon Paice and Nicholas Vickers, have been charged along with four Filipinos with running an illegal, unlicensed recruitment agency and making false promises to clients – allegations they all deny.
Locked up in Camp Crame, the police detention centre in Quezon City (part of what is known as Metro Manila), the six stand accused of making 1.7 million pesos (more than £24,000) in job placement and visa arrangement fees from 12 student nurses who say they were promised places in care homes and domestic work, but got none.

NSN Worldwide Advisers – a recruitment agency said to be owned by the two Britons – has its office in Makati, the upmarket business district of Manila. When the Guardian visited recently a concierge confirmed that NSN had closed. Asked why, he chuckled and said the owner had been arrested. But hundreds of recruitment agencies are still offering to help Filipino nurses get to the UK.
The NSN investigation had been carried out by the Philippine government's taskforce against illegal recruitment, headed by the country's vice-president, Jejomar Binay. "Let this serve as a warning to illegal recruiters and those who intend to take advantage of our OFWs [overseas Filipino workers] through illegal recruitment," Binay was reported to have said. "Remember, your days are numbered."
Of the 50,000 or so nurses who qualified in the Philippines last year, no more than 13,000 are thought to have found a job abroad. "That leaves 37,000 nurses who are qualified with a big uncertainty, as there is no shortage of nurses in this country," said Henk Bekedam, regional director of health service development at the World Health Organisation's Manila base.
"Worse, about 100,000 families on an annual basis are putting their daughter – usually a daughter – into training, with the big hope that in four years she will get a job. This costs a family an average of $10,000. Your daughter is your hope for the future; many of them will be disappointed."
Unable to secure jobs for nurses in the UK, many Philippine recruitment agencies – often unregistered – have reinvented themselves as education consultancies. Typically, the thousands of trained but jobless Filipino nurses are encouraged to study top-up courses in the UK, which, they are led to believe, will get them jobs afterwards. The reality is different.
According to Michael Duque, president of the Philippine Nurses Association of the UK, many Filipino nurses arriving on a student visa struggle to cope. If their family cannot send money to support them, they end up breaking immigration rules which used to allow 20 hours work a week for students, but have recently been changed to permit only 10.
"Most would be working more than the 37 hours of an average working week, doing extra housekeeping jobs, cleaning jobs," he said, adding that if the nurses can find a nursing home prepared to give them illicit out-of-hours work, they will do that – but such an arrangement can put the employer at risk too.
Some end up on the streets. "They don't have any place to live. They can't pay for accommodation," Duque said. Although the Filipino community is supportive and will take people in, there are those who just disappear. "Some, when their visa has run out, will go underground instead of going home. Some even end up in prostitution. They can't go back because they owe a lot of money back home."
Duque would like to open a "halfway house" where Filipino nurses who get into real difficulties can stay until they sort themselves out, but his voluntary organisation doesn't have the funds.
On NSN's locked glass door in Manila, a poster still claims that "your dreams are our responsibility". In another agency in the same office block display panels in the smart reception area are covered with postersfor British universities and colleges.
Melissa Dujali, a bright, 32-year-old woman living in Manila, has been brought up to understand her destiny. The second of four children, she has the brains and aptitude to secure a good nursing job overseas and support the rest of the family. So far though – and her story is very familiar in the Philippines – her efforts have led only to debt and disappointment.
"I'm the breadwinner. I took nursing to support my family," she explained. "My father is a diabetic patient so our business is not doing well. We are not a well-off family."
In April 2009 Dujali went to one of the many agencies that call themselves education consultancies. She was told she could take a two-year course in the UK, which she could fund from the 20 hours' work she would be permitted to do while she was there. The agency fee, for arranging her application to a British college (a BTEC higher national diploma in health and social care) as well as her student visa, was 75,000 pesos (£1,065). The college offered her a conditional place and asked for a down-payment of £1,000 towards the tuition fee.
The agency told her she would have to give the British embassy proof that she could afford the tuition fee and living costs, which would be an estimated £350-£500 a month. "I provided all the requirements," Dujali said. But in November 2009 she was told her application had been declined. Embassy officials did not believe she had sufficient funds.
"The agency said it would be OK," she said. "They showed me the many approved visas, so I asked them to appeal." But nothing had happened by January 2010 when the course was due to start, so Dujali pulled out. The agency fee was non-refundable. She has been told by the agency that she will get some – though not all – of the £1,000 paid to the college, but as yet, a year later, has had nothing.
Such stories, and the promises made by the agencies – which are legal, according to the UK Home Office, but not within "the spirit of the law" – are one reason for the British government's recent promise to crack down on student visas, making it much harder for overseas jobseekers to get into the UK through the student route.
For her part, Dujali now realises the rosy prospects that were painted of earning good wages in the UK to cover her costs and send money home were false.
A survey in 2006 by Professor James Buchan of Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh found that about half of Filipino nurses in London were sending between 25% and 50% of their income back home to their families. Most were the major or sole breadwinner in their family. Almost all (96%) had used a recruitment agency in their home country and nearly three-quarters had paid for their services.
Ira Pozon, legal counsel and international relations officer in the vice-president's office, is a key player in the crackdown on such agencies – which are, he said, involved in "under-the-radar illegal recruitment. Their promise is a student visa, but face to face they say we can help you get a job."
Pozon, who is in his early 30s, estimates 40% of his classmates went into nursing. His advice to compatriots interested in such a career now? "If an agency is asking for a lot of money, walk away," he said. "But the poorest of the poor believe them. They sell their property, thinking in six months I will have earned back everything I spent. They never get deployment. It is a basic scam."

Japan twits Philippines over nurses’ access under JPEPA

By Jessica Anne D. Hermosa -
The Japanese government yesterday countered complaints of Philippine officials over alleged barriers preventing Filipino nurses and caregivers from enjoying the perks of a market-opening deal.
Licensure exams have already been made easier for non-Nihonggo speakers in 2010 and the number of vacancies reserved for Filipinos this year have been hiked, the Japanese embassy told reporters yesterday.
The issue was raised as both countries prepare for a mandated review this year of how the Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement (JPEPA) has been implemented since it came into force in late 2008.
A batch of 187 Filipino professionals–102 nurses and 85 caregivers–are slated to enter Japan before the second semester to undergo the Tokyo-sponsored training and paid internship, the spokesperson said. The figure is 46% higher than the 2010 slots but less than the 310 slots provided in 2009.
The number of vacancies reserved for Filipinos are determined “depending on how many are offered by hospitals,” the spokesperson said.
Nurses under this program provided by JPEPA can work in Japan up to three years while caregivers stay for a longer four years. They will then have to pass the national licensure exam there if they want to extend their contracts.
Only one Filipino nurse has passed the Nihonggo-based exam ever since the program was implemented two years ago, a concern which the Philippine side has said it will raise at the coming JPEPA review.
“But we are trying to improve this implementation by doing basically two things: we have made those exams more passable for foreign applicants since 2010 by replacing difficult words with easier words in Japanese…and using both Japanese and English words for medical terms,” the Japanese embassy spokesperson said.
Tokyo will also provide two to three months language training here in the Philippines on top of the six months training in Japan which it already subsidizes for program participants, the spokesperson added.

‘Nurse hiring in UK stable despite budget cuts’

By Patrick Camara Ropeta, ABS-CBN Europe News Bureau
Filipino nurse recruitment in Britain should remain stable amid cuts on immigration and public spending in the UK, said the Philippine embassy in London.
Speaking from an event at the Princess Alexandra Hospital in Essex, embassy officials welcomed newly recruited nurses and reassured other nurses from the Philippines that job opportunities in the UK should continue to become available.
“So far, the UK is not shutting its doors to foreign workers,” said Atty. Jainal Rasul, Labor Attache at the Philippine embassy in London, in an interview with The Filipino Channel.
He continued: “It has not declared any ban in the hiring of foreign workers, especially nurses. There will be reductions, of course, due to some changes, but in the long term, there will be more nurses coming in due to shortages of nurses right within the UK.”
He added that recent changes in British immigration policies should not alarm Filipino migrants who are already in the UK.
“As announced by the UK Border Agency, for those already in the UK - nurses, senior carers, and other professionals - they will not be affected by the proposed interim or permanent limit of the UK government,” he explained.
In 2011, the British government will implement changes over immigration and public spending, both of which could affect overseas recruitment in the UK, including nurses and other skilled workers from the Philippines.
Media reports suggest that an immigration cap will be implemented in the UK from April 2011, which means that only 21,700 skilled workers from outside the European Economic Area will be allowed entry into its borders, a cut of approximately 6,300 compared to 2009.
The government will also dramatically reduce its public spending budget, including a cut of £2.3 billion from the National Health Service, which funds most of the hospitals in the UK.
The cuts are fueled by financial problems caused by the recent global recession.
World-Class Nurses
Despite the cuts, the Philippine embassy is optimistic in the stability of nurse recruitment from the Philippines due to the quality of work delivered by Filipino nurses.
“The feedback has been very positive. We’ve heard officials of the UK government commending us on the hard work, dedication and competence of our Filipino nurses, and we’re very happy about those comments,” revealed Reynaldo Catapang, Charges d’Affaires at the Philippine embassy in London.
There are currently 50,000 Filipino nurses working in hospitals all over Britain, including 100 nurses at the Princess Alexandra Hospital (PAH).
“We’ve successfully recruited a whole batch of Filipino nurses 10 years ago. A lot of those nurses are still with us, and enjoying their period with us,” said Gerald Coteman, Chairman of PAH.
He added: “They’ve learnt a great deal and they’re contributing significantly to services that we provide here. We’ve gone out a second time to recruit from that source, and we’re very pleased with the Filipino nurses that joined us 10 years ago that we felt we’d have more of the same. We really welcome these additional nurses, and hopefully they’ll be fitting in and enjoying their time with us.”
Terry Lopez-Bishop from Bataan is one of the success stories at PAH. Trained at Saint Louis University in Baguio City, she has consistently impressed her employers and colleagues since her recruitment in 2000. She has been promoted consistently and is now a ward manager at the hospital.
“At first, it was a shock, because it’s totally different from back home,” she revealed. “The important thing to remember is we have to learn from each other - what you can give and what you can learn from another culture - and put it all together to whatever will be helpful to the patients and the hospital as well.”
She added: “Filipino nurses are able to adapt well, I believe, with the culture in here, and integrate well into the hospital and how it works in meeting standards and the needs of the patients and of the country.”
Thousands of Filipino nurses continue to aspire to work in the UK and other Western countries for the life-changing opportunities it affords.
“I would like to adapt here, have career progression, and inspire others, especially my colleagues back in the Philippines,” explained Sheila Dalubar, one of the newly recruited nurses at PAH.
She continued: “I wanted to come in here and explore the job opportunities that the UK is offering, and to some day bring my family here as well to enjoy the life that I’m enjoying right now. It’s been good so far because most of the people in here are really supportive and approachable, especially in the ward that I’m working in.”
According to Lopez-Bishop, the key to success as a nurse is an “open mind” and a helpful attitude.
“My advice is just be open. Do not unlearn what you have learned before. Meet halfway, and see what you can contribute, what you could do to help, and learn more as well. Have an open mind, because nursing itself is dynamic, it evolves. You just have to accept that the changes will be for the better of delivering services to the patients,” she concludes.
Nursing continues to be a popular career choice for young Filipinos who wish to work overseas, and despite the recent changes in UK policies, nurse recruitment from the Philippines should remain stable in the foreseeable future.