DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/18 January) — Competent, volunteer nurses working for free and new nursing graduates undergoing training to enter the profession are two separate issues that should be treated separately, an official of a government hospital here said.
Dr. Leopoldo Vega, head of the Southern Philippines Medical Center (SPMC), however said the government hospital does not tolerate exploitation of competent, professional nurses doing voluntary work but insisted that nurses fresh out of school need a year or two of training before entering the profession to “reduce medical errors.”
Vega was apparently reacting to news reports on allegations that some hospitals have been exploiting nurses who work without pay by exacting “training fees” in exchange for certifications that they may use in applying for jobs.
“Training is very important because after the nurse’s college years and the board exams, there is a wide gap between academe and practice. In order to minimize medical errors from dosages, administration, execution of clinical plans, the nurse has to undergo training,” he said.
He said new nursing graduates need to pay for the training, which includes training on IV, ICU, and other ward systems.
“These are people accredited by Association of Nursing Service Administrators (ANSA) so there’s a certain payment for the honorarium of instructors, and fees for lectures,” Vega said.
“It is a didactic kind of learning which means there will be a teacher to teach them what to do and how to do these things and prepare them to enter the profession of nursing.”
“You have to divide volunteer work, which is very exploitative if there is no payment, and the latter.”
Vega said he doesn’t condone the exploitation of competent professional nurses.
“It’s but fair for nurses doing services competent enough not to do volunteer work, even if there are no other positions,” Vega said. “Once they are employed and are working, they must be given due privileges, or it becomes totally exploitative.”
But he said nurses should be trained before they enter the profession if only to minimize medical errors, especially in life and death situations.
“These are already graduate nurses but who lack the skills, it’s a different world out there in the clinical profession,” Vega said.
“Personally, I believe there should be no volunteer nurses,” he said. “This is not happening in our institution.”
He also said that a glut in the demand of nurses abroad has ended a tie-up between SPMC and an American firm for a nurses’ scholarship program last year.
“Movement of nurses to the US and Europe, especially England, has already stopped, which forced us to end the program,” he said, adding only Australia and part of Canada have remained partly opened for overseas nurses.
“But the favorite destination of Filipino nurses is the US, where the demand has decreased tremendously,” Vega said.
He said the only opening for nurses, which remains very open until now are Middle East countries like Saudi Arabia, Ethiopia and Dubai.
“But nurses don’t want these destinations, they still wait for the US to open up for employment because it’s easier for us to relay and understand the instructions from the hospitals because we talk the same language,” he said. (Germelina Lacorte/MindaNews)