Tell it to SunStar: Addressing the nursing shortage

Instead of hiring “near passers,” I believe the Department of Health (DOH) should focus on the many unemployed passers of the nursing board exams by hiring them through filling up the vacant nurses items of the DOH hospitals’ plantillas.

Two other ways to address the shortage of nurses are to let the “near passers” retake only those subjects wherein they got lower than 60 percent rating and to amend the Nursing Law to allow for nurse practitioners and nursing assistants as two new categories of licensed nurses.

Republic Act (RA) 9173 and RA 8981 do not provide for any circumstance or situation wherein either the Nursing Board or the Professional Regulation Commission (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.

Therefore the idea of the DOH that temporary licenses can be issued to those who failed to pass the nursing board exams but nearly passed with ratings of 70 percent to under 75 percent has no basis in either RA 9173 (the Philippine Nursing Act of 2002), or RA 8981 (PRC Modernization Act of 2000).

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.

The Nursing Law can be amended by creating categories for Nurse Practitioners and Nursing Assistants who can lighten the workloads of Registered Nurses in medical facilities.

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.