By Ma. Teresa Montemayor

(PNA file photo)

MANILA – Private hospitals have been hiring nursing graduates who are yet to pass the licensure examination as nursing assistants for years.

“At sa katunayan, tinutulungan nila ang mga ito para maipasa [ang exam] at sila ang nagbibigay ng ayuda para sila ay makakuha ng (Actually, they help them pass the exam and they provide support so they can have the) board exam,” Philippine Federation of Professionals Association (PFPA) Vice President 3 Dr. Benito Atienza said in a televised public briefing on Wednesday.

However, few nurses stay to serve in private hospitals, he said.

“Kasi ang iba nagte-training lang sa mga private hospital, lalo na sa mga Level 3 [hospital}, tapos lumilipat sila sa mga government hospitals kasi mataas ang sweldo dun (Some work in private hospitals just for the training, especially in Level 3 [hospitals], then they transfer to government hospitals because of higher salary),” he said. 

Over the weekend, Health Secretary Teodoro Herbosa said the Department of Health (DOH) is already studying the proposal of hiring nursing assistants for state-owned hospitals. 

The workers will receive a salary grade 9 pay or about PHP20,000 per month if the proposal gets the thumbs up of lawmakers. 

The position will be open to graduates of four-year nursing course who have yet to pass the licensure exam.

Herbosa has been pushing for the issuance of temporary licenses for nursing graduates who failed the board exam with an average of 70 to 74 percent.

The Professional Regulation Commission (PRC) said there is no provision in the Philippine Nursing Act or Republic Act 9173 that allows any government agency to issue such.

It noted that Herbosa’s plan could be supported by the Medical Act of 1959, which has the provision stating that temporary licenses may be issued by the Secretary of Health for medical graduates who have not yet taken or passed the physician licensure exam in times of national emergencies like the Covid-19 pandemic or natural disasters like typhoons.

About 4,500 nurses are needed in 70 public hospitals nationwide so far.

As for the creation of a National Nursing Advisory Council, Atienza said this could provide a big help to address the shortage of nurses in the country.

He added that Philippine Nurses Association (PNA) President Melvin Miranda, who is also a member of PFPA, already discussed with Herbosa the issues and the requirements for the administrative order for the creation of the Council.

Citing that additional nursing courses must be offered in state universities, Atienza said the quality of education that students get must be monitored as well.

“Magdagdag ng scholarship para sa ating mga mahihirap na kababayan na estudyante para makapasok ng nursing (Provide more scholarships for poor students so they can take up nursing),” he said.

Filipino nurses are in demand abroad and many countries hire fresh graduates without work experience and train them for the job, he added. (PNA)