Grace Poe wants gov't hospitals to pay nursing interns

MANILA, Philippines - To encourage more nursing students to consider a career in public health, leading presidential candidate Sen. Grace Poe wants government hospitals to pay nursing interns for their work and, whenever possible, to hire them when they graduate.

Pinoy nurses on duty
Pinoy nurses on duty. Photo Credit:
Speaking at the Samar State University in Catbalogan City on Thursday, Poe said nursing students who choose to do their internship in public health facilities should be compensated according to the work they do.

"Ang masakit sa mga nursing students na nag-iinternship, kayo na ang nag-iinternship kayo pa minsan ang nagbabayad ng mga kailangan ninyo para sa internship. Dapat naman siguro kayo naman ang bayaran ng allowances for your internship programs. Kasi kahit na ba estudyante lang, hindi naman nila-lang ang tulong ninyo sa ospital," she said in response to a student's question on the plight of unemployed nurses.

Private health institutions are known to collect fees from their internship applicants as students compete for slots in big-name hospitals and employment possibilities abroad. Even government institutions used to have a professional volunteer nurse program, where nursing graduates pay a fee so they can gain experience working in tertiary hospitals.

The senator, who had proposed legislation requiring government offices to compensate and train its interns, said government hospitals should reserve specific slots for nursing students.

"Para sa akin ang government hospital dapat mandated mag-hire mga intern na nurse at bigyan (sila) ng sweldo. At least magbigay sila ng cut-off, halimbawa five percent of the workforce will be students," Poe said.

There are 5,294 government nurses as of 2011, according to the Philippine Statistics Authority. This means there is only one government nurse for every 18,000 Filipinos, a long way from the ideal ratio of 23 nurses per 10,000 population.

Last year, Poe filed Senate Bill No. 2946, which seeks to institutionalize the Government Internship Program (GIP) and set aside P100 million for the compensation and training of all government interns.

Under Poe's proposal, all government interns who are able to fulfill their duties shall receive 70 percent of the Step 1, Salary Grade 1 under the Salary Standardization Law. This is equivalent to a monthly pay of P6,750, to be given every 12th and 27th of the month.

"Kayo ay nagpupuyat rin, kayo ay nagbibihis sa mga pasyente, kayo ang nagbibigay ng gamot, kayo ang umaalalay sa kanila tapos kayo pa ang magbabayad ng mga libro at mga uniform ninyo para pumunta doon? Ano ba naman 'yung bigyan kayo ng allowance para doon?" Poe said.

The leading presidential candidate vowed to push for the strict implementation of the Magna Carta for Health Workers, which provides hazard and subsistence allowances for government health workers.

She said she also supports increasing the minimum salary of nurses to P25,000 monthly. An entry-level government nurse is paid P19,000 monthly, which is higher than the P13,000 remuneration of nurses in private hospitals.

"Kailangan pataasin. Kailangan magkaroon ng hazard pay ang mga nurses natin. Kasi katulad nyan, nagpunta kami sa inyong ospital dito, andaming overworked, underpaid. Merong nahawahan ng meningococcemia na isang health worker. Kailangan talaga meron silang additional pay," Poe said.

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