Senate probes “exploitation” of nurses

THE Senate today will take a deeper look into reports of registered nurses and nursing graduates who are being employed by certain hospitals as “on-the-job-trainees” (OJT).

Sen. Pia S. Cayetano, chairwoman of the Senate Committee on Health and Demography, will lead Senate’s first committee hearing of 2011.

Her committee will be joined by the committees on finance, labor, employment and human resources development on pressing issues concerning the country’s nurses and other medical professionals.

“It is unfortunate that some of our nurses who are seeking employment overseas are forced to enter into such onerous arrangements in order to comply with the two-year work experience requirement for overseas employment,” said Cayetano, author of Senate Resolution No. 166 that aims to investigate and resolve the issue.

“In their desire to get hired abroad, some nurses are constrained to work in hospitals as OJTs even without pay or for salaries below the minimum wage,” Cayetano added.

OJT nurses are reportedly made to pay to pay between P5,000 to P7,000 for their certification in the course of their “training period” or “work experience” with the hospital, which may last from six weeks to eight months.

Among the main resource persons invited to the hearing are: Health Sec. Enrique Ona; Labor Sec. Rosalinda Baldoz; Dr. Teresita Barcelo, President of the Philippine Nurses Association; Alvin Cloyd Dakis, President of the Association of Young Nurse Leaders and Advocates; Dr. Ruben Flores, President of the Philippine Hospitals Association; Dr. Rustico Jimenez, President of the Private Hospitals Association of the Philippines; Carmelita Divinagracia, President of the Association of Deans of Philippine Colleges of Nursing; and Dr. Leah Paquiz of Ang NARS (Nurse Advocates for Rights and Socio-Economic Political Responsibility).

Aside from PSR No.166, the joint hearing will also take up PSR No. 304 introduced by Sen. Loren Legarda, which seeks to formulate a comprehensive policy to protect nurses, and various bills seeking to establish a Philippine National Health Research System such as the Senate Bill No. 257 by Sen. Antonio ‘Sonny’ Trillanes, SBN 1083 by Sen. Manny Villar and SBN 2029 by Sen. Edgardo Angara. D’Jay Lazaro

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