Available Balance
Supply of Nurses in the Philippines versus Global Demand
June 10, 2018


It’s undeniable that there will always be a high demand for nurses around the globe. In fact, almost everywhere, nurses are needed may it be in hospitals, communities, even in the battlefields. The aging population at the same time, most notably in the US and most European countries have contributed to this high demand. But why is the Philippines, in spite being one of the leading producer of nurses in the global market unable to cover these demands?

In the Philippines, there’s an overwhelming number of nurses so much so that most of them have decided to work instead in other industries like call centers because of either lack of vacancies in hospitals or unattractive compensation. Thousands and thousands of nurses are currently unemployed or underemployed in the Philippines that there’s almost no room for additional nursing graduates in terms of opportunities in the nursing field in the country.

The demand for nurses in the US in the years 2004-2006 prior to its recession is what actually kickstarted people in the Philippines to study nursing. When the recession happened, other’s considered UK, Saudi Arabia, Dubai, Canada, Ireland and a lot more. Today, the US a few years later after the recession, has once again opened its door for nurses,

But despite all these opportunities, why are nurses still flocking in the Philippines? Here are my thoughts as to why some countries like UK, Ireland and the US are hard to penetrate for nurses with English as their second language and why despite the overwhelming opportunities in the Middle East, only a few nurses are willing to venture there.

The answer can be attributed to the following reasons:

1.) First and main reason is the English Language Proficiency. Although English is no second nature to Filipinos, a lot are still failing the IELTS exam. To be a nurse in UK for example, one has to have a score of 7.0 in reading, listening, writing and speaking and an overall 7.0 score. While, some are able to achieve an average of 7.5, a score of less than 7.0 in any of the four categories mentioned above is still a failure.

2.) Another reason can be attributed to associated fees. Aside from placement fees, some countries like Saudi Arabia get their nurses through partner agencies in the Philippines. In my experience as a nurse and being friends with a lot of people engaged in the same field, I have come to know that some agencies collect money from applicants for a period of two years at least. Thinking about the future fees and amount of money one needs to collect can be discouraging. Although, depending on one’s agency, one can actually find a way around these fees or at least put them to a minimum.

3.) High qualification needed. These countries at times, look for specific applicants meeting an established qualifications. An example would be ICU nurses who’ve become experts in intensive cases over time. Part of the requirements sometimes is that, applicants must have rendered at least 2 years continuous nursing experience which can put up a great challenge as hospitals in the Philippines are so filled with nurses despite unattractive compensation with everyone trying to get experience to the point that most job seeking nurses in the Philippines had to pay in the past, before they can even be admitted to hospitals as volunteers hoping they’ll be regularized one day.

4.) Low compensation in the Middle East for nurses. My sister once worked in Saudi Arabia in a private hospital and had managed to earn about Php 20,000.00 or about 330 Euros a month as net income. While she didn’t pay rent, this amount is nonetheless not so enticing considering that there are better opportunities out there for nurses. If one gets lucky though to be able to work in a government hospital in Saudi Arabia or any other Arab countries, the stay there can actually be worth it.

These are just among hundreds of reasons why despite the demand, it can never be easy for Filipino nurses to set foot in other countries. Maybe when adjustments to IELTS score will be made in the future, or when the Middle East can provide better compensation for nurses, then the demands can finally be met decongesting at the same time the nurses in Philippines, thereby helping reduce underemployment and unemployment rate.

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