MANILA. A Filipino lawmaker warned nurses to stop aiming to work in the United States because of a reported glut in nurses but industry experts say this is just temporary and predicted another shortage might be felt as the US economy improves.
“Right now, they have ample supply of US-educated nurses,” said Ty, the representative in Congress of the Liquefied Petroleum Gas Marketers’ Association (LPG-MA).
In a statement, Ty cited statistics from America’s National Council of State Boards of Nursing which show that the US produced close to a million nurses from 2006 to 2011.
The US first encountered a shortage of nurses in 1998. This created a surge in number of Filipino nursing graduates hoping to get a career in the US.
However, the gap has since been filled by the large increase in the number of American nurses, plus a deluge of foreign-educated practitioners.
Due to the huge oversupply of nurses in the Philippines, both the Commission on Higher Education and the Professional Regulation Commission have been urging high school graduates to shun nursing.
The number of full-time nurses grew by about 386,000 from 2005 to 2010 and about a third of the growth occurred as unemployment rose to a high of 10 percent during that period, according to a report published in the New England Journal of Medicine.
“Probably for the first time in memory there were actually reports of nurses having difficulty finding jobs and reports from hospitals of almost a glut of nurses, Bloomberg quoted Douglas Staiger, a professor of economics at Dartmouth College in Hanover, NH”
Ty said the US demand for Filipino and other foreign nurses may start to recover in 8 years when thousands of US-based nurses would have retired.
Bloomberg predicted the demand for nurses would, in long run, grow even bigger.
“As the economy improves, and the mostly married, female workforce quits, reduces working hours to part time or reaches retirement age, a shortage of nurses is expected again,” the Bloomberg report said.
“We had suspected that the supply of nurses is counter cyclical, when the economy goes down, nurses work more, pile back into work in part because the jobs are there,” Staiger said.
Ty blamed regulators for their late response to labor market conditions.
“They should be more aggressive in researching and projecting future labor market conditions, both here and abroad, to help guide young Filipinos as to potential career paths,” he said.
“Regulators are just reacting to what is already happening, such as the apparent glut of nursing graduates. Their late advisories would be more valuable once these are predictive and instructive, rather than merely reactive,” Ty said.
From 1995 to 2011, Ty said a total of 145,081 Filipino nurses sought to practice their profession in America by taking for the first time (excluding repeaters) the US licensure exam, or NCLEX.
However, Ty said that “from 2006 to 2011 alone, a total of 938,552 US nursing graduates also took the NCLEX for the first time.”
In a report on abs-cbnnews.com, Ty said he has been pushing for a new law that “would establish a special local jobs plan for idle Filipino nurses, now estimated at more than 300,000.”
His proposed measure, House Bill 4582, seeks an expanded version of the Nurses Assigned in Rural Service or NARS, “the short-lived Philippine government project that enlisted nurses to improve healthcare in poverty-stricken towns.”