Solons split on letting nursing board exam flunkers work in DOH hospitals | Inquirer News

Solons split on letting nursing board exam flunkers work in DOH hospitals

/ 02:19 PM June 27, 2023

MANILA, Philippines — Lawmakers are divided over proposals to let nursing students who failed board examinations work in the Department of Health (DOH) hospitals, with those against it stressing that many exam passers are jobless.

After newly installed Health Secretary Teodoro Herbosa proposed hiring board exam flunkers to address the country’s nurse shortage, several House of Representatives members, like Bohol 3rd District Rep. Alexie Tutor, said that DOH should look for out-of-work nursing board examination passers.

“Instead of hiring ‘near passers,’ I believe the DOH should focus on the many unemployed passers of the nursing boards by hiring them through filling up the vacant nurses’ items of the DOH hospitals’ plantillas,” Tutor, who heads the House Committee on civil service and professional regulation, said in a statement.


READ: DOH chief eyeing nursing graduates for gov’t hospitals


Anakalusugan party-list Rep. Ray Reyes also aired the same sentiments, noting that the Professional Regulation Commission (PRC) data shows that only 53.55 percent of nursing board passers practice jobs related to their exams.

“We have a lot of nurses, board passers looking for jobs.  Shouldn’t we prioritize them first before giving chances to those who have not yet passed the board exams?” Reyes, speaking in Filipino, said in a separate statement.

“It is saddening that according to PRC, only 53.55 percent of the nursing board passers are active and practicing their nursing profession,” he added.

Tutor meanwhile said that both Republic Acts No. 9173 and 8981, or the Philippine Nursing Act of 2002 and the PRC Modernization Act of 2000, do not allow the issuance of a temporary license because of certain circumstances, like nurse shortages.

“Republic Act 9173 and RA 8981 do not provide for any circumstance or situation wherein either the Nursing Board or the PRC is authorized or empowered to issue any temporary license to practice the nursing profession. We are aware of no precedents for the issuance of temporary professional practice licenses,” she said.

“Therefore, the idea of the Department of Health that temporary licenses can be issued to those who failed to pass the nursing boards but nearly passed with ratings of 70% to under 75% has no basis in either RA 9173 (Philippine Nursing Act of 2002) or RA 8981 (PRC Modernization Act of 2000),” she added.


Tutor, however, made suggestions similar to those raised by Northern Samar 1st District Rep. Paul Daza, who said last June 21 that a way around employing ‘near passers’ is to have them retake only the portions of exams that they failed in.

Daza has long advocated amendments to the country’s professional board examinations, saying that the country desperately needs more workers, especially for industries with low interest from job seekers.  As early as March — before Herbosa even took the DOH portfolio — Daza has been asking the PRC to initiate changes to its examination system.

READ: Daza agrees with DOH chief: Let nursing exam flunkers find jobs

Tutor said there are provisions in existing laws that allow ‘near passers’ to retake portions of an exam they failed.

“However, RA 9173 does have Section 15 allowing those examinees to retake the exam for those subjects where they got ratings lower than 60 percent. Special examinations can be scheduled for those. This is one way for the DOH and PRC to achieve what they would like to happen: have more passers of the nursing boards,” she said.

“If the DOH and PRC deem the nursing personnel shortage to be in urgent crisis mode, then they can ask President Ferdinand Marcos Jr to certify the amendatory bill as urgent,” she added.

READ: New law sought to fix nurse shortage in PH 

Meanwhile, Rizal 4th District Rep. Fidel Nograles said a formal dialogue might be needed to create a strategy to address the nursing shortage.

“We should have a dialogue first, then craft a workable strategy to address the shortage, with the view towards implementing a long-term solution instead of temporary measures,” Nograles, who heads the House Committee on Labor and Employment, said on Monday.

“Kailangan pagusapan ang mga isyu gaya ng (We need to talk about these issues like) nurse to patient ratio, working hours, salary, at iba pa (and others).  What is stopping us from hiring more nurses? Let’s identify these barriers and closely collaborate to find a solution we can implement,” he added.

Despite being one of the world’s top sources of nurses, the Philippines is experiencing a shortage of nurses.  Last May 4, during one of the  House committee on appropriations’ hearings on the DOH budget utilization, then officer-in-charge and Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire admitted it would take 12 years for the country to bridge the nursing shortage gap.

Vergeire told the panel that the country has a demand of 300,708 nurses, while only around 127,000 nurses are employed nationwide.  As the country produces 10,635 nurses yearly, it would take 12 years to address the shortage.

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READ: Why are there so many Filipino nurses in the US? 

TAGS: Board exam, DoH, nurse, nurse shortage, nurses

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