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 results 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 positions 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 training 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.

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?