State of nurses in PH shocks award recipient

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LUCENA CITY—One of the recipients of the model citizen award given out by the Quezon provincial government has expressed shock at the practice of many hospitals in the Philippines of making professional nurses work for free in exchange for certificates that could be used to look for jobs abroad.

Menchu Sanchez, herself a nurse who has lived in the United States for more than 30 years, said she couldn’t imagine the practice being allowed in other countries.

“How sad, how sad,” said Sanchez, in an interview during a break in ceremonies for the Quezon Medalya ng Karangalan (QMK) here recently.

Sanchez, who hails from Catanauan, Quezon, is one of the 10 recipients of the QMK given by the provincial government to outstanding citizens for their achievements and contributions to the welfare and development of the province.

Sanchez migrated to the US in the 1980s and has been living in New Jersey with her husband and their two children.

Government and private hospitals have long been exploiting the abundance of unemployed professional nurses—more than 300,000 based on government data—who want to have work experience to boost their chances of landing overseas jobs.

In some cases, it is the nurse in training who pays as much as P20,000 to be able to work in a hospital and earn a certificate.

The Department of Health has started the RN Heals (Registered Nurses for Health Enhancement and Local Service) project in 2011, which deploys nurses to rural areas to fill the need for nurses in remote areas and give nurses a chance to earn work certificates that they could use to apply for jobs abroad.

The program, however, could take in only a limited number of nurses due to the lack of funds.

Sanchez won international fame after US President Barack Obama hailed her as an “extraordinary American” for leading the rescue of infants at a New York hospital at the height of Superstorm “Sandy” in the US East Coast last year.

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