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Health secretary tells students: Avoid nursing

Even Health Secretary Enrique Ona is advising incoming college students: Stay out of nursing.

In a consultation here on Monday, Ona noted that too many nurses were needing jobs here and abroad, while many nursing schools were closing following a government-mandated review of their quality of instruction.

“If I have a daughter today, I would not let her take up nursing,” said Ona, the former executive director of the National Kidney and Transplant Institute.

If students are good in mathematics and science, it is better that they take health-related courses allied to this expertise, he said.

Specialized courses

If they want to pursue a career in health care, it would be more appropriate to take highly specialized courses in medical research and medical technology, he added.

“Medical technology specializing in stem cell research, for example, is in very high demand,” he said.

Citing records last year, Ona said there were at least 200,000 nurses in need of jobs. For years, demand for Filipino nurses abroad has been declining even as the number of graduating nurses has been disproportionately high, he said.

The health secretary said he raised this issue in a recent meeting with President Benigno Aquino III. Ona said ways had been devised to dissuade incoming college freshmen from going into nursing.

Declining demand

“We have to be strict in the licensing of nursing schools. Second, we have to give our students better opportunities and inform them of courses with better employment chances,” he said.

But Ona said many parents were still thinking that earning a nursing degree is still their children’s best chance to land high-paying jobs abroad.

Records from the Philippine Nurses Association showed that as early as 2006, demand from the traditional sources of nurses, such as the United States and the United Kingdom, had declined.

Ona, however, said nursing is not a sunset course and still holds promise. He said the “baby boomers” (those born after World War II) are just retiring and are in need of health care.

“They are the ones who got rich,” Ona said.

Read the rest of the story @ inquirer.net

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