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DOH, CHED launch upskilling program for nursing grads

The Department of Health (DOH) and the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) on Wednesday officially partnered to launch an upskilling program in a bid to augment the number of nurses in the country. 

Health Secretary Ted Herbosa and CHED chairman Prospero de Vera III signed a joint administrative order to pave the way for the entry of Clinical Care Associates (CCAs) into the healthcare system and a nursing review program that will be delivered by identified higher education institutions.

Herbosa said that DOH will be the lead agency in implementing the Nurse Workforce Complementation and Upskilling Program for CCAs in response to the growing demands for healthcare workers in the Philippines.

“I want to help nurses who haven’t passed nursing to be able to pass in their second and third attempt and be part of the solid workforce,” he said.

Herbosa has raised concern about the lack of nurses in government hospitals, noting that 4,500 plantilla items for nurses are currently vacant in over 70 DOH hospitals nationwide.

Private hospitals, on the other hand, are also experiencing the same problem, with Private Hospitals Association of the Philippines Inc. (PHAPI) president Dr. Jose Rene de Grano admitting that they need 50% more of their nursing staff as many have resigned and opted for better-paying jobs elsewhere.

De Vera, for his part, stressed that additional interventions are needed to produce more nurses, considering that only about 50% of nursing students pass the licensure exam.

“We have to look for the other 50 percent. How can we help them pass the licensure exam? We have to give them opportunities for re-skilling and upskilling, and assist them pass the licensure test. If we are able to do this, we can immediately produce new nurses, we don’t have to wait for 4-5 years to increase the nursing manpower. We can have more nurses within the year,” he explained.

He also reiterated that CHED has already lifted the moratorium on the opening of new nursing programs and 54 HEIs have applied so far.

However, only around 2,000 additional nursing graduates may be produced by 2028 even if the applications of all 54 HEIs are approved.

De Vera earlier said CHED is set to launch a short-term masteral program to address the lack of instructors in nursing schools, considering that a Master’s Degree in nursing is a requirement before being allowed to teach in such.

Meanwhile, Herbosa previously announced that he is planning to establish a National Nursing Advisory Council that will focus on addressing the concerns of Filipino nurses, particularly their departure for better-paying jobs abroad.

He said he would issue a department administrative order for the creation of the council with a de facto chief nursing officer who will function in a level of an undersecretary.  —VAL, GMA Integrated News