By: Alvin Cloyd Dakis, RN
March 01-15, 2013 Issue
Unemployment or joblessness is one of the major issues the country is facing today. The Philippines have 7 percent unemployment rate in 2011 higher than its neighboring countries in Southeast Asia. In the nursing profession, this issue seemed to get the top spot of the concerns of our Filipino health professionals.
The Philippines is experiencing what I coin as “Professional Poverty” wherein despite the increasing number of registered professional nurses and thousands of graduate nurses produced every year, the country still suffers from health service inequalities, lack of adequate and competent health human resource, and loose track on the welfare of individual service provider.
With the national and local elections fast approaching, this would also seem to be one of the most overrated topics to be discussed by those who are seeking public service offices. Although unemployment and job generation would seemingly be one of the major topics in senatorial fora, national and local candidates debates etc., but I seriously doubt there would be any of those running for office who would be discussing about the current unemployment of health professionals especially the nurses and their platforms for it.
In the Philippines, there is no mechanism or technology yet to determine the exact number of nurses who are unemployed and underemployed. Even the government agency which is supposed to regulate the Philippine professional nurses would only come up with estimates and not a concrete number. Why can't a regulatory agency "regulate" such issues? We cannot even tell where these nurses are, where are they employed, how many of them are employed and how many are underemployed. I think this is the perfect time we start doing all these things. So we can start claiming accurate numbers instead of saying we have around 200,000 unemployed nurses to date.
With the recent addition of 16,908 new nurses, where are we placing such a huge volume of health professionals? An added number, an added problem.
But the issue of unemployment does not rest in the government's efforts alone. Filipino nurses should also know how to hunt for jobs that are somehow related to the profession of health and caring.
But many nurses would squeeze in to hospitals.
For many of them, nursing is a work bound to the walls of a hospital or the academe.
For many of them, employment in the hospitals is the key to the foreign lands.
These major lines of thinking are the reasons why many young nurses get abused in the workplace especially in the hospital/clinical practice. And also one of the major reasons why many young nurses would force themselves in the clinical/hospital area where the hospitals would not even know where to place them should they hire many of them.
But there are many avenues for nurses to excel and be successful. Let me share to you some.
Nurses are excellent managers. In many non-governmental organizations, developmental organizations, and government agencies, nurses are well regarded and acknowledged of their keen attention to details, holistic approach to issues and high critical thinking skills in management. I know many nurses who are now in government service and in managerial positions who have been outstanding. Similarly, a lot of nurses working in non-government organizations are also well respected. And the pay is higher than what being a nurse in the hospital could offer, usually more than the average pay most usually P10-15,000 starting rate.
Nurses in the Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) industry are also taking off with flying colors as the demand for more nurses in different health accounts such as health insurances, distance health consultation to name a few. There are companies I work with that assist nurses who want to work in this field. It is not right for us to degrade nurses working in BPO industry especially that this kind of work is definitely tough, hazardous but decent. Most BPOs would contract nurses for their services from P15,000-20,000 starting rate.
If a nurse would want to find employment, there is definitely a place for them to go. But definitely they won't find it in the halls of the hospital nor in any ward. The work for nurses in the country is fast evolving. Many of the work of the nurses in the country would involve but not limited to project management, information management, customer service, research, and policy and strategy development. Many of the nurses I work with in different industries and sectors would most of the time handle operations, projects and human resources. The basic management course nurses have in their undergraduate degree helped many nurses to adjust fairly to the work that would require management of resources, systems and workforce.
Other factors that would contribute to some nurses who are currently unemployed or underemployed are the following reasons:
- Pursued post-graduate education such as Masters, Doctorate, or degrees in medicine or law;
- Chose to stick to getting a job as a staff nurse in a hospital despite lack of available positions;
- Pursued other career path;
- Voluntarily withholding to work; and
- Choose a job specifically fit for their preference, proximity from home, salary rates and type or level of exerted work.
When we look into the issue of being jobless or unemployed, I saw these factors coming into play. Many of the nurses I know also have the following reasons. We just can't put all the blame to the government, can we? There are factors surrounding the issue and there are some nurses, honestly, who prefer not to work at the mean time, some preferred to pursue graduate studies, others went to their first l (because many Filipino nurses have either been forced by their parents or one of their relatives shouldered the expenses of the student if and only if they will take up BS Nursing), and others just plainly have a higher standard in getting their first job.