MANILA, Philippines (ViaNews) – Being a professional gives you the edge to land a stable job, but in the Philippines health industry, it’s a different story.

Unemployment has been a long-term problem faced by most Filipinos even for degree holders working in the healthcare industry. The unfavorable working conditions Filipinos find in their country makes them seek employment overseas.

To become a registered nurse in the Philippines, one needs to take a 4-year course, costing at an average of P40,000 (US$748) each semester. After graduating, one must pass the board examinations and go through various seminars and training to be able to land a job in local hospitals.

During the early 2000s, there was a great demand for Filipinos abroad. Most Universities and local colleges started to offer nursing courses creating more nurses than the system was ready to absorb. Thus, it made a huge imbalance in the labor force and careers needed locally were almost disregarded.

Due to the influx of nursing graduates, other nurses opt to work as contractual workers often working overtime and without extra pay. Others had to volunteer just to be able to practice their profession.

Based on the figures of the Philippine Overseas Employment Agency (POEA), 92,277 nurses have chosen to work abroad since 2012. With approximately 19,000 nurses leaving the country yearly, 300,000 still remain unemployed, and around 250,000 are underemployed while others chose to apply in business process outsourcing (BPO) companies.

Carlo Tabalina, a registered nurse for 11 years, gave Via News an Interview. He revealed that he had to resign from his previous job to study the German Language which was a prerequisite for a job opportunity in Germany. He added, “It was my dream to become a nurse but being overworked, underpaid and exposed to verbal and physical abuse, in addition to different diseases, sometimes make me think if this is all worth it. The salary that a local nurse receives cannot be compared to what they can earn by working abroad.

I am the breadwinner of my family and in order for me to provide for the daily household consumption, I have decided to accept the job that was presented to me even if it means leaving my loved ones behind.

However, it appears that the application process is very demanding.”

Filipino registered nurse, Carlo Tabalina. Photo by: Ryan Abello.
Filipino registered nurse, Carlo Tabalina. Photo by: Ryan Abello.

As of the present, a handful of foreign countries offers jobs for nurses with better salary and even gives the option to bring their families to live with them. Despite his current situation, he stated, “I like being a life saver. Nursing is not for the faint-hearted for you are the frontline of healthcare and it deals with life, from birth to death. It’s a challenging job and one that requires patience, dedication, and hard work. Despite its grueling demands, it is a rewarding job.”

However challenging as it may be, Carlo is still holding on to his passion for his profession. He hopes that in due time, the dilemma in our healthcare system in the Philippines will be given priority by the government so that nurses and other healthcare workers would not have to leave their families behind.