Where Are You, RN?

Guess what? The number of unemployed and underemployed registered nurses in the Philippines has now reached a staggering record of 324,520 after the reults of the July 2011 NLE was released publicly. It’s quite alarming to see how this latest addition of inexperienced nurses struggle to make ends meet like the rest of the previous batches. You can’t help but feel sorry as you  see their victorious smiles slowly turn into frowns of disappointment. How will they survive now that the chances of local nursing employment continue to be very slim and positons for existing nursing opportunities fill up so easily as fast as a blink of an eye? This is a question that still haunts the 324, 520 struggling nurses. Good thing they had learned that flexibility, resourcefulness, and determination can also be applied on the “outside world” and not just on their nursing duties.

Now that the present nurse-patient ratio is 1:50, it’s quite impossible to accommodate this growing number of aspiring nurses. So, where are they now? Where are you, RN?

You can see a big percentage of them (of course) answering calls and giving empathy to frustrated, verbally abusive, and demanding foreign nationals with heavy accents. We all know for a fact that the BPO industry continues to be a more financially rewarding career alternative not just for thousands of RNs but also to other professionals finding it hard to gain employment on their respective fields. CSRs, TSRs, Voice accounts, Non-voice chat/e-mail accounts, health care accounts, day shift or night shift accounts- – -name it and I assure you will find  nurses there wearing headsets and taking calls. I can’t blame them because if you try to search for nursing-related jobs in JobsDB or Jobstreet, you will see unlimited opportunities not in hospitals but in various call center companies with high attrition rates. I personally has nothing against call centers because I also became a part of the industry for a brief period of time and I know how hard it is to leave your profession and do something that even high-school graduates with proper trainings can do excellently.

How about the others? You won’t imagine the variety of jobs and industries that our fellow nurses have joined themselves into: Some work as med-reps, pharmacy assistants in certain drug stores, review assistants (RA) or national reviewers of various nursing review centers, freelance web writers/bloggers/editors (just like me), bank tellers, medical assistants, or online English teachers (especially for Koreans). Some are even trying to penetrate the entertainment and fashion industries by working as actors/actresses, movie directors, models, fashion designers, beauty pageant contestants, or even singers. Some even work as sales lady, hotel receptionist, fast food crew and  pawnshop attendant. I also know some RNs who now run their own business, most common of which are spas/massage parlors and online stores. And for others who really have the ‘heart’ to serve but not lucky enough to be employed, joining Philippine Red Cross as volunteers or instructors seem to be a ‘better’ option.

THIS IS THE REALITY. But are we blame-worthy? I don’t think so. We just don’t have a choice or better, THE OTHER CHOICE is not that practical nowadays. We also have our own families to support and feed and though working as volunteers (commonly abused nurses) or “paid” trainees (a euphemism of the former) will give us experience and certain competencies, it won’t provide us the needs to support our now ‘independent’ lives. Nursing is not all about money but admit it or not, nurses are also human beings who need money to feed, breathe, and live.

Perhaps some of these RNs-working-not-as-RNs chose to leave the nursing industry for good because they have realized that their passion is on something else or it could be due to sheer frustration or extreme need, that they opt to leave the profession ‘temporarily’ and still hope that life will be fairer for nurses in the near future. Whatever their reasons are, we have to remember that life is all about choices. Nurses are chosen by God; it’s a calling and not all of these 324, 520 unemployed/underemployed nurses are meant to be in this industry because they took Nursing due to family influences or out of wrong reasons. The present condition of our profession must be a way used by God to determine who will stay and who will not, who are those that have the ‘real heart’ to serve and who are those that think Nursing is just a ticket to get overseas employment.

RNs are now everywhere but to my fellow nurses who really have the heart and passion to be a nurse, please remember that it’s not what you do, but who you really are, that will define your essence as a nurse. Don’t quit because it’s still a long way ahead.You are not the only RN-working-not-as-RN in our country. On the other hand, if your heart doesn’t belong to Nursing, go ahead and pursue what you really want; you will only live once so you better do what you are passionate about. Nursing is not the end-all, be-all of opportunities in life. Do what you want and you better do it NOW.

How about you? WHERE ARE YOU, RN?




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  • Say that again? Nurse to patient ratio is WHAT!!!!!! 1:50? That is dangerous!!!!! Here in San Diego, California, nurse to patient ration is 1:4 for telemetry, 1:3 for IMU, 1:2 for ICU, and Med Surg is 1:15.

    • Richard

      That was very insensitive of you Connie. Passing judgement that fast was so convenient for you. Please go down on that high horse and stop with your snobby castigation. I bet you won’t last a full shift in the Philippine setting and still maintain with the quality of care given to each patient. We do what we can, when we can, and still maintain a quality of care as much as possible.

      • Jordan

        Richard anung masama sa Comment ni Connie..alam mo that is unsafe practice 1:50 how can you give the proper care to your patients kung ganyan nga here in new zealand 1:6 or 5 ang ratio and ang hirap na…..yan pa kayang 1:50.. you just have to be humble enough to accept the fact na that is SUPER UNSAFE

        • Correct Jordan! 0700 am: Assessment for four patients to include vital signs, if you do a thourough assessment, 10 minutes each patient. That is 40 minutes already. Then charting one hour, in between answering call lights. Medications at 0830 am to 0930 am. Patient care, bed baths, commode calls, and all the necessities that the patient and family needs. Most of the time, the family have many questions about their ill family member, this takes your time about 30 to 45 minutes. Mga doctors orders that needs to be carried out, lab draws, EKG testing, blood transfusion, ect. This is the encountered daiy routine. Ay naku, kasi sa atin,ang family ang nag ca-care sa mga me sakit na family members. Dito sa States, if hindi pinoy, nurse lahat ang gagawa at ang family iuutos sayo lahat, maski kaya na nila. Eto ang nursing dito sa America mga kababayan.

      • randy

        I worked in a government hospital in Davao City before. And I cant believe how I survived my 8 hours shift in a busy medical ward with 60 patients. Honestly it is so hard to give good nursing care to all those patient with only one nurse working and there are times you are ask to work double if you don’t have a reliever. I don’t think think you can give a quality of care with so many patient to take care of. But that is the reality in the Philippines. Well only in the Philippines folks.

        • mitch

          1:50+ up to 60+ patients in a shift are usual setting in a ward especially in government hospitals here in the Philippines… Quality service is still given however not the same quality compared to the 1:5 ratio. Nurses even on its worst situation still gives the best quality service to its maximum potential. I hope government can see this problem and hire more nurses for Filipino patients.

    • Correction:
      Med Surg ratio is 1:5 n San Diego, California, USA.

  • Joseph

    sana naman ang mga bagong pasa sa board na mga nurses ay mabigyan ng chance to prove themselves na marunong din sila sa work kahit walang experience. kasi meron akong kilala na bagong graduate at kapapasa pa lang sa board. noong mag apply siya sa hospital walang experience except noong nasa **** school of nursing pa siya. Noong interview time, tanong sa kanya, may experience ka ba? yes ma’m anong hospital. di ho sa hospital, sa opisina ni senador ****** a ganun ba? sige bukas mag orientation ka na!! pefect!! ganun ang conditiones ngayon sa atin. dapat may pleasing personality ka rin. ung laging nagasasabi ng “please”.

    • Erwin

      -Sad to say, outside of what we live now the reality, applies to the law of the jungle where only the strongest and the toughest live…..Surivial of the fittest.

  • Richard,

    My comment was not judgemental. I was shocked to find out that the nurse to patient ratio was too high. Ofcourse I will not last an hour if I came home to the Philippnes to provide care for patient’s that many. I realy didn’t know that the ratio from our country is that high. I went to school in United States. Maybe there is something we can do to change that. I am a patient advocate and a member of Califonia Nursing Association. If the nurses from the Philippines start opposing that situation,something can be done. Build a group of nurses and start a nursing association to bring down that grid. Your voices will be heard if many of you will speak up.

    I will never pass any judgemental words on anyone. You are mistaken Richard. Do not come up into a conclusion as to why I have said what I said. I have never work in our country as a nurse. I left our country back in 1984, without a college education.

  • Addendum to my comment above:

    This will generate job opening for the new grad RN’s. Speak up now, or forever hold your peace. If you do not do anything, nothing will change. Write President Aquino,or the congressman in your area about how unsafe that ratio is. If no one speaks up, nothing will change. I am currently studying to obtain my Masters in Nursing. I will go home to the Philipines to retire for many reasons. Now Richard, I have another reason to be there, to be an advocate for the patients.

  • puede bang makisawsaw? may kapatid ako at daan-daang kamaganak at kaibigan na nurses. amid all the problems and heartaches associated with this profession, i think our nurses – employed or not – should have an enjoyable and profitable “hobby” to fall back on.

    i am referring to FREE and EASY internet marketing programs for making money in your spare time – or even fulltime should you prefer to. i use these to help seniors like me lead a profitable retiree-lifestyle.

    non-profits and foundations can also fundraise with these as vehicles instead of always asking for donations and risking donor-fatigue. WIN! WIN! WIN! for the organization, the donors and, of course, you who introduced the concept. this is true DOING GOOD PROFITABLY!

    here are a few for you to investigate (i already have but…):






  • mitch

    Where I am???? saddled in the corner of our abode, thinking of other ways to compensate and engaging into other jobs outside my course… Freelancing here, business there, and still hopes to execute my course. Sad but true for most nurses.