Filipino nurses are leaving the Philippines in search of better pay, opportunities, working conditions and respect

By Patricia L. Adversario

Rose Gonzalez, a nursing graduate turned public relations practitioner for seven years, is leaving in a few weeks to work at the Johns Hopkins University Hospital in Maryland, USA. Having returned to her original profession, she is one of the scores of Filipinas who find that nursing is now the ³sure² ticket for a better-paying job abroad‹and the shortest route to immigrant status. Figures from the International Union of Nurses said that close to 10,000 Filipino nurses were directly hired by US-based hospitals in 2001.

The annual outflow of Filipino nurses is now three times greater than the annual production of licensed nurses, said Dr. Jaime Z. Galvez-Tan, executive director of the National Institutes of Health Philippines. Global need Tan said the shortage of nurses in the developed countries would not just be for a year or two, but for at least the next 10 to 15 years.
He explains: The developed countries are experiencing a longer lifespan and the ³graying of their population.² But their youth population is not interested in the nursing profession because of the difficult and risky work. More options are also available to them to take on other professions that offer better pay and working conditions. The solution for these countries: hire foreign nurses to do the job. Based on statements made by their respective governments, the US would need around 10,000 nurses a year, while the UK, Ireland, the Netherlands and other European countries would need another 10,000 nurses a year.

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