MANILA — Compassion, dedication and emphatic caring make Filipino nurses among the most sought-after professionals in the world, Assistant Secretary for Policy and Legislative Affairs Michel Kristian R. Ablan of the Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) said Saturday.
Ablan, who is also Freedom of Information (FOI) Program director, recognized that nursing is a difficult profession, beginning from school, internship and eventually the real world where the working hours, environment, and their personal health risks are quite challenging.
“Through the FOI, our nurses can have access to vital, correct and up-to-date information on the nursing information, particularly statistics, related to the health care industry. Your leaders and lawmakers will listen if your information is current and accurate and they will be obliged to respond within 15 working days to your requests,” Ablan said during his keynote speech at the 32nd Annual Local Convention of the Philippine Nurses Association Zone 3 (Quezon City-Marikina Chapter), held at the Novotel Manila in Cubao, Quezon City.
He also noted the challenges faced by nurses, particularly in their Continuing Professional Development (CPD), which requires each nurse to undergo re-training and refresher courses every three years to maintain their professional standing in the Professional Regulation Commission (PRC).
Ablan encouraged nurses to take advantage of the FOI for them to be able to research about topics or areas of specialization pertaining to their profession, which they can request review centers to offer instead of undergoing training in subjects or skills they are already familiar with.
Nurses like Angelica Cureg from the East Avenue Medical Center (EAMC) welcomed Ablan’s suggestion.
“It can be difficult for us really since it entails some cost to attend seminars, although as a nurse in a government hospital, most of the time we are not required to pay. For those in private hospitals, they do pay and it would really be a big help if we get our money’s worth when we learn something new,” Cureg said.
Ablan said the government is fully aware of the situation of nurses.
“Our leadership feels your hardships and understands your needs,” he said, citing the high nurse-to-patient ratio which reaches 1:40 in some hospitals; and overworked and underpaid staff and nurses shifting careers due to the lack of opportunities locally or for economic reasons.
Meanwhile, Ablan indicated that legislators are working hard to pass Senate Bill 725 or the act providing for a comprehensive nursing law authored by Senator Cynthia Villar that aims to improve working conditions and provide nurses professional career development.
In addition to Senate Bill 725, he said, the government is also working on the full implementation of Republic Act 9173 or the Philippine Nursing Act of 2002 with emphasis on the standardization of salaries of nurses.
“Getting a bill passed into law is only half the battle. Not only is it important to convince legislators to pass a law but also to get the executive branch to allocate the necessary budget to implement these laws,” Ablan said. (PNA)