FOLLOWING the order of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. to address the shortage of nurses in the country due to migration, the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) on Thursday presented solutions including the offering of shorter certificate programs and tracking of about 20 percent of nurses with “unspecified” practice.
In a press conference, CHED chairperson Prospero De Vera III said they have been aware of the “old” problem and that they are already exploring ways to address the gap.
De Vera presented immediate-term interventions, a medium-term approach and long-term solutions.
For the immediate intervention, De Vera said, there will be “redirection of non-practicing licensed nurses.”
“The proactive information campaign on the vacancies and permanent positions in public and private health sectors based on HRH [Human Resource for Health] goals shall be considered in coordination with other government agencies [multisectoral effort],” De Vera said.
Also, CHED will facilitate Memoranda of Agreements between the private sector and Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) to directly hire graduates to their health-care institutions, specifically those with a Nursing degree with exit credentials.
“There is a significant gap of nursing graduates who are not working in the health sector. About close to 20 percent of them,” De Vera said, noting that there were 121,688 nurses with unspecified practice.
“We have to do a better job tracking where they are because they are already nurses. They can be hired as nurses anytime …Most of them are in the BPO sector,” he said.
For underboard (repeaters and failed examinees), De Vera said they will provide “upskilling and reskilling.”
Other data provided by CHED showed that 175, 900 nurses are working in private and public health facilities in the country; 3,905 in other practices such as health administration; 316,405 are permanent and temporary migrant health workers, for a total of 617,898 of licensed nurses.
For the medium -term approach, De Vera revealed their proposal of a nursing curriculum that will offer its graduates early exit credentials after just a year or two years of studies.
This, he said, is a stopgap measure that is part of CHED’s medium-term plan to address the nursing shortage.
“This is a straight BS Nursing program with exit credentials at every level,” he said.
He explained that the need for more nurses is not all for college or university graduates of BS Nursing, but includes those with “intermediate credentials” who can be easily hired.
Under the proposed BS Nursing program with exit credentials, after a year of schooling in which one will be equipped with basic nursing skills, one could become a nursing aid or assistant; while two years of schooling would entitle one to become a nursing associate, community health nurse or associate maternal or child nurse.
After CHED lifted the moratorium that prevents colleges and universities from opening nursing programs, De Vera revealed that over 50 schools have applied to offer it.
Assuming that these 54 schools will get approvals, De Vera estimated that over 2,000 nurses will graduate for Academic Year (AY) 2029-2030 and almost 3,000 for AY 2030-2031. The data is computed based on 5 percent attrition rate and 20 percent for succeeding years.
“Will this solve the problem of nursing shortage? In the long term it will,” De Vera said.
Although this solution will take 5 to 6 years, De Vera said that such is still a “necessary long-term solution.”
De Vera said their measures to address the shortage in nurses were already presented to President Marcos and the private sector.