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Obama and Villar on Pinoy nurses

/ 08:30 AM March 12, 2013

Barely a few weeks after Prince Philip II of England drew mixed reactions to his statement on Filipino nurses, yet another public figure this time senatorial candidate Cynthia Villar gave her two cents worth of insight on the Filipino nursing profession and this time the nursing and medical community were non-too pleased about it.

The senator wannabe made the observation that Filipinos wishing to be employed as nurses abroad need not finish the full four year degree in order to qualify as so-called “room nurses” that continue to be in demand, albeit not as high as it used to be, in both hospitals and retirement homes.

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We use Villar’s statement and compare it with other favorable and unpleasant comments made by foreign personalities including US President Barack Obama and see that while her comments aren’t as vicious as those attributed to former “Desperate Housewives” star Teri Hatcher on the medical community (I want to check your medical background lest they show you graduated from some med school in the Philippines), it reduced nurses as mere caregivers or medical attendants.

The former congresswoman was profuse with her apologies to the country’s nursing association and said her comments were cut short by the limited time given to her by the interviewer.

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But then Villar’s observation wasn’t surprising based on reports that a committee she used to chair tried to mediate between the Commission on Higher Education and the nursing schools that failed to meet the educational requirements for the nursing profession.

What Villar was saying in effect was that it doesn’t take a nursing degree for Filipinos to land caregiver jobs in the US and other countries that have a high demand for such services.

Her comments didn’t have the subtlety of Prince Philip’s remarks that Great Britain’s demand for Filipino nurses had cut the Philippine’s nursing labor force by half.

Compare her observation with that of Obama’s tribute to Filipino nurse Menchu Sanchez who helped in the rescue of infants in a hospital trapped by superstorm Sandy in New York last year.

“We should follow the example of a New York City nurse named Menchu Sanchez. When Hurricane Sandy plunged her hospital into darkness, she wasn’t thinking about how her own home was faring. Her mind was on the 20 precious newborns in her care and the rescue plan she devised that kept them all safe,” Obama said in his State of the Nation Address to Congress early this year.

Filipino nurses may be inaccurately perceived as limited only to attending to a patient’s needs but it is this service that has won the admiration of foreign health care institutions and even leaders like Obama around the world.

Villar’s apology may have been forthcoming due to the election period but her erroneous observation doesn’t in any way tarnish the hard-earned reputation of Filipino nurses, whose service has placed them in the ranks of the world’s best.

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TAGS: Barrack Obama, Cynthia Villar, Filipino nurses, nurse
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