Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz drew flak last Sunday when she advised unemployed and underemployed Filipino nurses to go “out of the box” and search for a more lucrative career in healthcare information outsourcing sector of the business process outsourcing (BPO) industry. This is not the first time that this issue of hopeless Filipino nurses turning into call center employees drew public attention as the lack of plantilla positions and other nursing-related opportunities continue to paralyze the nursing industry. It’s quite ironic because the present health status of the country is still far from being described as ideal. But whenever Filipino nurses ask for serious answers from the government, they only receive band-aid solutions that can only alleviate the nursing employment problems within a short span of time. Is it about time to just accept the fate of Filipino nurses or the government still needs a little push to create feasible and long-lasting strategies to solve this problem?
According to KMU (Kilusang Mayo Uno) chairman Elmer Labog, “Baldoz’s call shows that the Aquino government only has an ad hoc employment plan, not a comprehensive and sustainable one. After creating a glut of nursing graduates who failed to find jobs abroad, the government is now calling on them to apply for the limited number of jobs in the BPO industry.”
The call center industry has indeed provided thousands of jobs for Filipino graduates over the years. I have nothing against BPO industry but as far as professional qualifications are concerned, there are three possible reasons why Filipino nurses should not spend the rest of their lives taking calls or doing back-office jobs. First, not all nurses are qualified for the job and even though there are plenty of positions available for them in the BPO industry, most of them fail because they don’t meet even the minimum qualifications intended for the job. Second, what nurses need and want is a genuine NURSING position that will enable them to apply what they have learned in college and exercise their own passion. Third, our government hospitals are in dire need of qualified medical professionals to take care of them and give them the quality of care they rightfully deserve. Our health care industry suffered nursing shortage in the past and now that there is a surplus, don’t you all think that it’s about time for the government make the most of our present situation?
Nurses need jobs but it doesn’t mean that DOLE can just hand them over to industries that can either exploit them more or let them forget their inner calling. We need a government that will allow nurses to explore their own passion and not just a puppet-like entity that exists only for itself and not for the welfare of its people.
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