America’s strong demand for Filipino nurses seen worsening local shortage 

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America’s “exceptionally strong demand” for Filipino nurses is bound to aggravate the lack of nursing staff in Philippine government hospitals in the months ahead, Quezon City Rep. Marvin Rillo, House higher and technical education committee vice chairperson, warned on Monday.

“To address their own shortages, American hospitals and staffing agencies are now aggressively recruiting Filipino nurses,” Rillo said, adding that even Filipino nurses already working in the Middle East are being lured to relocate to Texas and California, among other U.S. states.

“In America, Filipino nurses are favored because of their close affinity to the Western culture, competence, compassion, and their readiness to work long hours and take on extra shifts even during weekends and holidays,” Rillo pointed out.

“Congress must quickly raise the basic salaries of our nurses here at home. This is the only way we can hold on to our nurses in public hospitals,” Rillo said.

Rillo has been batting for the passage of his measure – House Bill No. 5276 – that seeks to bump up to P63,997 the entry-level monthly pay of nurses employed by the government.

In the Senate, Sen. Sonny Angara has filed Senate Bill No. 638, which seeks to raise to P51,357 the starting monthly salary of public nurses.

The starting monthly wage of public nurses is currently pegged at only P36,619 under the Philippine Nursing Act of 2002 and the Salary Standardization Law of 2019.

Senators earlier rejected newly appointed Health Secretary Teodoro Herbosa’s plan to temporarily hire nursing board flunkers to fill 4,500 vacant permanent items for nurses in over 70 hospitals run by the Department of Health.

The vacancies do not include unfilled nurse positions in hospitals run by provincial, city and municipal governments.

Rillo said many nursing graduates that have decided to stay in the country are shifting to other occupations to survive economically.

“We actually have many nurses employed by local airlines and business process outsourcing firms, or selling real estate, insurance, and even cars, where they tend to earn more,” Rillo said.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that America will have “about 203,200 job openings for registered nurses each year, on average, over the next decade.”

“Many of the openings are expected to result from the need to replace nurses who transfer to different occupations or exit the labor force, such as to retire,” the U.S. BLS said.

Nurses in America receive an annual median wage of $77,600, or the equivalent of around P4.3 million, according to the U.S. bureau.