From 1997 to July 2013 there are 481, 786 nursing board passers. Include the passers before 1997 I wouldn’t know how many registered nurses the Philippines now have. While a bite in the pie of nurses are employed overseas, not even half of this number practice the profession in any given healthcare setting. Now why is that? It all goes back to unprecedented rise of demand for nurses here and abroad in 2002. That was followed by a massive enrollment in nursing schools all over the Philippines. Heck even doctors went back to College. Filipinos already living overseas sent back their children to the Philippines just to study nursing. New nursing schools mushroomed all over the country. And for a while it seemed that trend would never die out. But it did. And here we are at a standstill (or so it seems) simply because the Philippine economy is said to be dependent to the economy of the world’s superpowers such as USA, China, Japan etc. so that when America closed its doors to the overseas workforce, thousands of nurses’ dreams were shaken one way or another.

So what’s the present nursing scenario? Let’s say nurses nowadays are everywhere. You can see one in modelling agencies, in the banks working as tellers, in the Philippines music and acting industry, learning and practicing photography, blogging, selling all sorts of stuff in the internet, in BPOs as customer and technical support, English tutors or simply unemployed. The Philippine government did its best to aid its nurses through an employment program under DOH and DOLE once called NARS (Nurse Assigned in Rural Service) now RN Heals which is currently in its 5th. This was and is able to temporarily employ thousands of nurses and add up to their experience and resume but it’s nothing permanent so before and after, nurses still have to struggle. What can we do then to unburden ourselves, our families and our country?

Suggestions and scribbles from personal experience:

1. If you love nursing, don’t despair. Take your minimum 2 years clinical experience to back you up anywhere. If you can have 3 years, even better. If you can get it in a tertiary setting, best. Everyday I get a mail from jobstreet,, jobrapido and even timescareer (though it seems far-fetched that I’d see a job post for nurse needed in New York, New Jersey, Tennessee etc) and its contents never run out of NEED NURSES FOR this country and that. It only requires experience.

2. If you want to work in the KSA, that’s a good choice. I’ve been to those agencies and all you need is experience, pass your Prometric Exam, you don’t even need money for some agencies because once you’re decided they may just deduct/take from your first salary which is not that high for clinics/private hospitals but yes better than waiting for USA these days. If you have a good experience (tertiary hospital, special area like ICU, ER, OR), don’t hesitate to go hunting for government hospitals that can offer you twice the salary private ones offer in KSA. Oh, don’t worry not all hospitals there require you to wear their traditional clothe for women. A dozen or two of my batch mates are working there now and they have good feedbacks. Work contracts range from 2 to 4 years.

3. Dubai? Abu Dhabi? This is my target these days. These two countries of UAE offer a higher salary range than KSA. Someone I know earns 70-90 thousand per month as an ICU nurse in a government hospital in Dubai. Big clinics and private hospitals offer 40-50 thousand approximate and some nursing homes they say offer 25-30 thousand. These numbers I got from people I know currently working there and are thus not exact. But you can’t go there just like that. To be safe, a cousin told me that you should first pass the HAAD Exam (Health Authority Abu Dhabi) which I recently failed and I can retake in 3 months time. Just an advice, unless you’re really confident, review before you take this one. Registration here is easy. Just go to this website for more information. Payment is through credit card or vouchers you can purchase in vouchers stores. My friend and I decided against waiting for the 3 months to pass and decided to take DHA (Dubai Health Authority) instead. We are currently processing for this one. Visit this website for more information. Testing centers are available all over the Philippines. Of course there’s one in Manila.

4. If you don’t want to go anywhere just yet, further study is a good option. It can increase not only your chances and choices for employment, but it can certainly advance your knowledge and skills.

5. But then again, clinical nursing is not the only area of nursing available for us RNs. There are nurses in occupational settings (a friend works in SM), nurse employed by DOH doing researches and implementing programs of the government, nurses in schools, nurse-teachers and many others. Just be on the lookout always and never give up enhancing your knowledge and skills.

There’s so much I still want to add and share. And my ramblings here are actually just a tip of the iceberg and are largely based on my personal experience as a nurse doing all sorts of stuff since my registration in 2010.