The Nursing ConundrumBy Philip Dominguez Mercurio
Should the United States lift the cap on the number of nurses allowed into the country to address the limited supply of nurses in America?
Those against it are fuming that the provision places the very health of the Philippines in jeopardy, leaving a crumbling health system in its wake. Vacancies for nursing jobs in the Philippines hover in the tens of thousands. In his Philstar column, Max Soliven argues that hundreds of hospitals have closed due to this. It has become a national tragedy.
The New York Times article seemed bizarrely angled toward concern over the loss of the African nurses and compensation for their loss although I must say that seeing the chart of nurses immigrating to the U.S., the 80 and 60 nurses immigrating from the African nations of Nigeria and Kenya in 2005 barely make as much as an impact to their countries than the massive influx of nurses form the Philippines: 4,594 nurses. Dear Goodness -- if there should be one country in need of some compensation it should be ours.
But here’s the thing that bugs me about going against the provision. What’s the use of having a nurse in our country when they could barely provide for their own family making less than $200 a month? They spent all that time being educated and they’re barely making it by. If they were given the opportunity to make $36,000 a year starting in the United States, shouldn’t we give them a chance? With that amount of money, they would not only be able to provide for their immediate family but even their extended family as well.
Think about it for a minute. Let’s see the possibilities.
Allowing a large number of nurses into the United States would increase the remittances back into the country. That’s obvious. Now, with such a large influx of nurses entering the United States, Filipinos back home would be encouraged even more to enter nursing school as they see is as “loophole” around the already long line into this country. Demand for nursing courses would increase the amount of nursing programs, allowing nurses to uplift their own family’s living conditions back home, and providing for them to get an education and hopefully also become nurses.
Now, you’re thinking this doesn’t seem to help solve the problem of no healthcare in the country. Well, I’m coming to that.
As you raise the living conditions, more likely than not, more and more families in the Philippines would be wealthy enough to afford some kind of healthcare and therefore demand for it should likely rise. If the Philippines can couple that with interest in the medical tourism so patients from America and Japan looking for affordable healthcare can come to the Philippines, perhaps you would be able to raise the wages for doctors and nurses in our country enough that they will find no need to leave anymore.
Is this an easy fix? Of course not. Something like this needs time to develop.
So let’s not waste an opportunity to raise our living conditions. Look by 2020, the United States would be in deficit of 800,000 nurses needed to serve its ever aging population, more than enough spots to get our country on its feet.
We need nurses yes. But what’s the use if millions of Filipinos, including the nurses themselves, are starving and could barely afford the medical services provided? - PDM
See this article,"The Nursing Conundrum," in Philippine News. Click here.