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PH doctors working as nurses abroad


Even before, doctors are one of the looked upon professions in the healthcare industry. Having to study to become a doctor may require much of a person’s time and effort but the result would be truly rewarding. Thus, many have dreamt of becoming a doctor one day.

Sadly, Executive Director of the Association of Philippine Medical Colleges Dr. Fernando Sanchez said a few years ago, “The once popular profession of medicine has lost its glitter.”

Many doctors are retraining to become nurses as they are attracted to the higher compensation that awaits them abroad. Further, many do so to expand their specialties and stay competitive. This phenomenon is the so-called “reverse education” and the doctors becoming nurses are called “nurse medics”.

According to a previous study, approximately 2,000 doctors have studied to become nurse medics in 2001. By 2005, about 4,000 doctors were enrolled in different nursing schools in the country. Further, between 2002 and 2005, more than 9,000 of them have left to work as nurses abroad.

In the same study, the nurse medics attributed such career shift to the low compensation, poor working conditions and political instability in the country. The attractive benefits, better job opportunities, and career growth are what pulled them to migrate and work abroad.

Most of the target countries PH doctors work in as nurses include the United States, United Kingdom and Middle East. As these countries offer way higher salaries than what they receive in the Philippines, it is not surprising that they took a risk and work even not as a doctor.

This reverse education and brain drain have caused significant impact in the healthcare system in the Philippines. The shortage of doctors and nurses is to blame for the closing of more than 200 hospitals and for the increasing number of unattended Filipinos needing medical attention. As a result, about 70% of deaths during the peak of nurse medic migrations have occurred.

This phenomenon, if left unmanaged, may lead to what others call a “medical apocalypse”. But after evaluating this situation a few years ago, the government and other organizations had debates regarding a proposal to address this. They pushed to oblige PH doctors to work for at least three to four years in the country first before they can practice abroad.

Nursing jobs abroad indeed have its push and pull factors for many professionals in the country. In fact, even some businessmen, lawyers and engineers were getting ready to enter the healthcare industry as nurses. MIMS

Read more: Jenny Soriano

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