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    Bills seek to tap 'under-board' doctors, nurses for COVID-19 response

    MANILA, Philippines – Several bills filed to utilize 'under-board' professionals, those who are qualified but not yet board passers, during times of national public health emergencies.

    Medical frontliners in the country's fight against coronavirus disease
    Medical frontliners in the country's fight against coronavirus disease. Photo Credit: DOH

    House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano said on Saturday they will tackle soon four bills that would institutionalize the mobilization of non-practicing but qualified medical workers to address the shortage of frontliners in our ongoing fight against COVID-19.

    These include House Bills 6809, 6821, 7007, and 7157, proposing to create Medical Reserve Corps (MRC) composed of persons who have degrees in medicine, nursing, medical technology, and other health-related fields.

    In a virtual meeting of the House of Representatives Committee on Civil Service and Professional Regulation in July, PRC Chairman Teofilo Pilando Jr. agreed to utilize 'under-boards' professionals in times of pandemic.

    "We think so. That's the result of a survey of various regulatory boards. Basically all of them would say these under-boards can be tapped but under the supervision of a licensed professional," Pilando said.

    "It just that the Boards do not provide any provision where there is a sort of provisional licensing or the like. So they can just be tapped as assistant. The Boards have to look for the proper crediting of those services," Pilando added.

    DoH Assistant Secretary Kenneth Ronquillo, head of the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) Secretariat, said they projected that they will need 13,949 more doctors and nurses “to meet our requirements for our COVID response.”

    Ronquillo cited Medical Act of 1959, wherein medical students who have completed the first four years of medical course, graduates of medicine as well as registered nurses who may be given limited special authorization by the Secretary of Health to render services during epidemic or national emergency whenever the services of duly registered physicians are not available.

    SEE ALSO: PRC finalizes schedule of 2020 PLE Physician board exam
    "There's no provision in our current law that we can hire under-board graduates of nursing in case of national emergency. So they need to be registered and licensed before they can practice," PRC Board of Nursing's Glenda Arquiza clarified.

    — The Summit Express

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