Idle Filipino nurses now 300,000, says solon

Filipino nurses may have difficulty entering the US labor market until 2020, according to party-list Rep. Arnel Ty.

"Right now, they have ample supply of US-educated nurses," said Ty, the representative in Congress of the Liquefied Petroleum Gas Marketers' Association (LPG-MA).

In a statement, Ty cited statistics from America's National Council of State Boards of Nursing which show that the US produced close to a million nurses from 2006 to 2011.

Ty said the US demand for Filipino and other foreign nurses may start to recover in 8 years when thousands of US-based nurses would have retired.

The US first encountered a shortage of nurses in 1998. This created a surge in number of Filipino nursing graduates hoping to get a career in the US.

However, the gap has since been filled by the large increase in the number of American nurses, plus a deluge of foreign-educated practitioners.

Due to the huge oversupply of nurses in the Philippines, both the Commission on Higher Education and the Professional Regulation Commission have been urging high school graduates to shun nursing.

Late response

Ty blamed regulators for their late response to labor market conditions.

"They should be more aggressive in researching and projecting future labor market conditions, both here and abroad, to help guide young Filipinos as to potential career paths," he said.

"Regulators are just reacting to what is already happening, such as the apparent glut of nursing graduates. Their late advisories would be more valuable once these are predictive and instructive, rather than merely reactive," Ty said.

From 1995 to 2011, Ty said a total of 145,081 Filipino nurses sought to practice their profession in America by taking for the first time (excluding repeaters) the US licensure exam, or NCLEX.

However, Ty said that "from 2006 to 2011 alone, a total of 938,552 US nursing graduates also took the NCLEX for the first time."

Special jobs plan

Ty said he has been pushing for a new law that "would establish a special local jobs plan for idle Filipino nurses, now estimated at more than 300,000."

He has filed House Bill 4582, which seeks an expanded version of the Nurses Assigned in Rural Service or NARS, "the short-lived Philippine government project that enlisted nurses to improve healthcare in poverty-stricken towns."

Ty's said the Special Program for the Employment of Nurses in Urban and Rural Services (NURSE) "would mobilize a total of 10,000 practitioners every year."