Nurses’ Bill by Cong. Gabby



Government and privately owned hospitals are desperately in need of nurses at this time. The Department of Health (DOH) and the Philippine Nurses Association (PNA) reported that the country needs at least 44,000 nurses (and counting) to stabilize Health care services during this time of the pandemic. The acute shortage is due to their migration to other countries, which offer greater pay and benefits, and the higher rate of resignations due to an overload of work by reason of lack of nursing service support staff.


Recognizing this worsening nurses’ plight, Congressman Gabby Bordado, Jr of the 3rd District of Cam. Sur very recently filed a timely Congressional Bill titled—“Omnibus Nursing Reconciliation Act of 2022” (copy of which can be found in this newspaper) purportedly to avert this continuous and persisting nursing services disintegration, which if not taken care of expeditiously, may ultimately result to the breakdown of health care services entirely in the country.


The bill aims to level the playing field by producing a respectable number of nurses in a short time by readopting the Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN). This course was offered from the 60’s to mid-80’s in the Philippines and even at the University of Nueva Caceres (UNC) in Naga City as a three-year program. UNC for years produced a number of Registered Nurses that found employment locally, in US and European countries too.


However, nursing schools in the Philippines discontinued this ADN and shifted to Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) which was then becoming more in demand and competitive for employment abroad. The ADN program is still being offered in US and other western countries at present as an accelerated 20-24 month course. Its curriculum requires a High School diploma with a completed 12-year education.


Our educational system recently adopted the same 12-year education for high school graduates enabling them, in like manner, to meet this basic requirement for an ADN.


Both ADN and BSN take the same Board Exam as in US and European countries, and passers become one and the same Registered Nurse (RN).


Readopting ADN, therefore, will not only produce the critically needed nurses in an accelerated manner but will also open up opportunities to impoverish families that intend to send their sons and daughters to nursing school. ADN is more affordable as it is a shortened program compared to BSN. The government will also provide scholarships accordingly as stated in Cong Gabby’s Bill.


One of the significant provisions contained in the Bill is to professionalize the ranks of health care providers from its lowest level—the nursing aide—to become nursing assistants competently trained and certified as Nurse’s support staff.


At present nursing aides employed by hospitals are purely skilled-based with no formal training and certification, and with minimum and limited education. Because of the unavailability of qualified support staff, the quality of nursing services is greatly affected. This is in contrast with other countries where nurses have the comfort of having help from institutionally trained Certified Nursing Assistants (CNA) capable of performing non-vital nursing-related work. Presently, local nurses still perform most of this kind of work, which could easily be relegated to qualified support staff such as the said CNA.


Philippine hospitals’ Nurse-to-patient ratio as reported at this time has reached an alarming level of 1 nurse to 60 patients—a far cry from DOH’s guidelines of 1:12.


In Metro Manila and even in Naga City and nearby provinces, there are hospitals forced to close some wards because nurses are unavailable. The nurses they previously hired have left for abroad after gaining a qualifying hospital experience while presently employed nurses are planning to leave as well for high-paying job abroad. Countless more just quit for another job with lesser workload and stress. Sadly, this is the reality behind the facts.


ADN graduates will assure the steady and sustained supply of nurses once they become registered nurses. Their job descriptions are correspondingly the same as BSN registered nurses. However, because they are not as in demand abroad as the latter, their longer hospital stay in the country is assured.


A ladderized ADN curriculum for attaining a BSN degree will be formulated for those who want to pursue a Bachelor’s degree. The CNA course, in like manner, will also be offered as ladderized program toward ADN. This is the most attractive component of the Bill not only to those who would want to pursue continuing education in nursing, but also to the hospitals that are currently in dire need of nurses, and competent support staff.


Inadequate nursing care due to a lack of nurses in the hospital will lead to deterioration of the health condition of the patient—an unfortunate consequence as a result. This Bill needs backing from all of us. The welfare of anyone who is hospitalized afterall is at stake here.


Thanks to this innovative Bill of Cong. Gabby Bordado, Jr—an avant-garde contribution to health care services, indeed!


PS.


(Naga College Foundation has started a CNA course this year as the pioneering school in the country to offer such, and now on its 7th batch. This is also in support of the Bicol Medical Center’s objective of professionalizing its ranks—first among government hospitals).