Health Secretary Enrique Ona announced on Friday government plans to hire another batch of 10,000 nurses willing to serve poor rural communities for a year.
When the Registered Nurses for Health Enhancement and Local Service (RN HEALS) program was first run early this year, each nurse hired got a monthly allowance of P8,000 from the Department of Health (DOH). Local government units involved pitched in P2,000 more for each nurse deployed to their area.
The second corps of RN HEALS nurses is about 27 percent of the 37,513 nursing graduates who recently passed the professional licensure exams.
Jomel Garcia Lapides, the topnotcher in the latest batch of successful examinees said he wants to work in the country instead of seeking employment overseas, GMA News’ Balatanghali newscast reported.
Lapides is a graduate of the University of the Philippines-Manila.
Oversupply of nurses
According to the Professional Regulation Commission, the country has 287,000 underemployed nurses, some of whom are working on volunteer duty without pay while others took jobs not related to the course.
Enrolment in nursing colleges swelled in recent years because of the lure of employment overseas, particularly in the United States.
However, the US government said many Filipinos were slow to react to the change in US immigration policy limiting the number of foreign nurses, according to a WikiLeaks posting.
Unknown to many Filipinos was the growing need of US school districts for foreign teachers.
First batch of RN HEALS
Last January, the DOH hired around 10,000 nurses from the first batch of RN HEALS and sent them to work in over 1,200 communities all over the country that have little access to health care.
Ona said the RN HEALS nurses will help deliver health services especially to families enrolled under the government's Conditional Cash Transfer program or CCT.
Under the program, the poorest of the poor families would receive monthly stipends on condition that they send their children to school and for pregnant mothers to undergo regular checkups.
Ona added that the RN HEALS program aims to improve the nurse-patient ratio in the country.
Currently, he said the nurse-patient ratio in government hospitals is about 1:30 while the ideal ratio is 1:12.
"Itong programang ito, malaking maitutulong nito sa patient care for those assigned in hospitals," he said.
The DOH chief said more details about the new RN HEALS batch will be disclosed at a later date. — Candice Montenegro/Paterno Esmaquel II/ELR/RSJ/VS, GMA News