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Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Behind the nursing glut

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For Filipino nurses and nursing students, the promise of a better future is hinged on the perceived huge demand for nurses abroad. As of late, however, it appears that this no longer holds true.
The foreign markets' demand for Filipino nurses remained strong up until the middle of the last decade.

The Philippine Nurses Association, Inc. (PNA) has noted that the demand from top destinations such as the US and the UK already plateaued in 2006 when quotas for visas in the US had already been filled up.

In the UK, the policy shift favoring homegrown health workers also resulted in fewer Filipino nursing recruits.

Data from the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) showed that about 34,000 nurses were deployed abroad from 1995 to 2001. In 2001 alone the country sent nearly 14,000 nurses to 131 countries.

More recently, in 2009, the number of nurses sent abroad grew by only 6.7% to 13,456 from the previous year. This was much lower than the 40% increase from 9,004 in 2007 to 12,618 in 2008. The decline was attributed to the global economic slowdown -- a sign of the market's susceptibility to external shocks.

Still, Philippines continues to produce more nurses than the domestic and global economies can absorb.

Unofficial estimates now place the oversupply of Filipino nurses at around 150,000 as of 2008. The PNA earlier noted that as many as 1,500 qualified nurses were waiting to be employed by major hospitals in 2008. The waiting period for employment ranges from six to 12 months.


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