Bill Banning Hospitals for Making Nurses Pay: Blessing or a Curse?

After DOH released a memorandum last September prohibiting nurse volunteerism amongst concerned hospitals, House Bill 5445 or bill banning hospitals from making nurses pay for training has now been granted on second reading to terminate completely any exploitation existing within Philippine hospitals. Now that opportunities for gaining relevant nursing experience for the 324,520 Filipino nurses continue to be elusive, can we consider this timely policy potentially beneficial or detrimental for the nursing profession?

No doubt that we have an oversupply of nurses in the country and this imbalance of demand and supply, which was brought primarily by CHED’s inadequate control of fly-by-night nursing schools that have been established over the years, makes the responsibility of providing nursing jobs for all our nursing graduates a Herculean task for our government. On the other hand, we have been aware that the government is not neglecting the issue and has been searching for all possible remedies to alleviate, if not possibly end, this nursing phenomenon. But are they really aware of the plight of Filipino nurses and formulating long-term and reliable solutions for the dismal conditions of local nursing employment?

Experience is For Free

According to Laguna Rep. Edgar San Luis, whose House Bill 767 was substituted by the House Bill 5445, the lack of employment opportunities for nurses in the country makes them vulnerable to the unscrupulous practices of some hospitals that demand cash payment in exchange for the necessary work experience required for jobs abroad. The bill provides that only those programs accredited by the DOH and the PRC Board of Nursing shall be implemented and allowed to charge corresponding fees.

However, with volunteerism ended and paid training programs among various hospitals are now facing threats of abolishment, competition for staff-nurse or even nurse-trainee positions will be stiffer and more brutal compared to the previous years. It is true that training experience should either be free or with corresponding payment from the hospital but the issue here are the thousands of nursing graduates in dire need of hospital exposure and who are just as willing to pay expensive training fees for that purpose. This house bill seems to be a shallow and irrelevant suggestion for nurses suffering from long periods of unemployment and for hospitals who are struggling due to government’s budget cuts and lack of financial support for the health care industry.

Nurses Need More Jobs, Not Policies

According to reports, once the bill is finally approved, it penalizes violators with one year imprisonment and a fine of P500,000. Further, the bill provides that any nurse volunteer who was required to pay the hospital shall be entitled to a refund of the full amount paid to the hospital plus interest of six percent per annum until said amount is fully paid. In addition, a salary equivalent to Salary Grade 11 shall be paid by the hospital to the nurse-trainee for services rendered. But the question is, will it be strictly carried out and followed considering the present condition of Philippine hoispitals? The government can pass a lot of policies but it will all depend to the concerned parties if they will adhere to it or not. It would be better if the government search for new and feasible opportunities for thousands of unemployed and underemployed nurses. RNHeals has already provided clinical and community exposure for thousands of nurses but what we need is a long-term approach to help our suffering nursing industry especially now that the existing nurse to patient ratio continue to suffer ironically.

It’s really unfair and inconsiderate to let our registered nurses to pay training fees after surviving four years of backbreaking nursing studies. The government, through House Bill 5445, has been aware of this trend and doing its part to take control. But at the end of the day, what nurses need is a stable employment that can provide them quality life and better future for their families. Nurses should also take a stand and be one with the government in creating new ways to help fellow Filipino nurses. After all, no matter how bleak the future might be, nurses will remain as the light that gives hope and compassion for humanity.

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  • simangotz

    nurses should fight for safer nurse-patient ratios in both government and private hospitals, so that hospitals will have to open up more nursing positions…

  • burningshadows

    correct! We need more jobs. We don’t need more policies.
    overflowing ang mga nurses, pero kulang pa rin ang philippines sa mga hospitals.

  • Personally I think that there is nothing wrong with new policies — what’s wrong is that they’ve made an incomplete solution that while discourages financial exploitation, it basically is giving them “OK. You can do it for as long as you don’t charge anything.” I think that’s a load of crap and solves NOTHING for the long term.

    NURSE I is an entry-level position; in my opinion it shouldn’t require any “experience” anything other than your RLE and no good word for it other than your license. I mean seriously; how the hell would people get actual work experience without a landing an actual job? They’ll say “volunteer” to get it, but well — when it comes down to it? They’ll give you Volunteer Certificates, not Certificates of Employment — and that’s what hospitals want. :/

    What they need to do is increase the budget to fix the Nurse Ratio problem. As for the salary, we already have a law supposedly fixing that (RA 9173 fixing Nurse I wage to Php 23,887/Salary Grade 15); but what’s happening is that barely ANY hospital is following that law. What can also be possibly done is to render the REQUIREMENT of experience at any Entry-level position to be unnecessary — which would not only help our profession, but many others having the same problem as well.

    No one is pressuring these hospitals to do so. The Government and the Nursing Profession in it’s entirety are still tolerating these; obviously, this needs to end — not just for our sake, but for the patients that could suffer indirectly as a consequence of Nurse Exploitation.

    Just note that whatever I am saying may or may not be a viable solution; they are merely opinions of which are untested and are up to the scrutiny of the general public.

  • Red

    This situation begs the question…’Wouldn’t attrition be a method of nurses moving on to better paying jobs with this new Bill?’ Seems to me that the nurses in training were paying the hospitals to get experience so that they might move on to a better situation in life…either within the Philippines or possibly abroad. With this new Bill, the hospitals will be made to pay nurses verses the other way around. I would think that this is a boon for the nurses who have been struggling financially and also a motivator for nurses working in the lower paying positions to move on after they have achieved the necessary experience to better themselves, opening up the positions for nurses who just finished school or has little or no experience.

    I am pretty impressed that some members of the Philippine government have stepped in and shown that they care about the people they represent instead of just collecting a paycheck and making little effort.

    As for me, I would call this a blessing.

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