METRO PACIFIC Health Corp. (MPH) said the hospital industry needs to invest more in nurse training, with the newest crop of nursing graduates lacking practical experience due to restrictions on their education imposed by the pandemic.
“We all know the challenges… We have a new category of (nursing) professionals (from the COVID generation). Because of the lockdown, unfortunately, many of them lost out on the hands-on experience since they were mostly undergoing virtual education,” MPH Chief Executive Officer Harish Pillai said at a media roundtable in San Juan City last week.
“The challenge is when these (nursing) graduates… come to the bedside, there are a lot of gaps in terms of competency and skills. Hospitals really need to focus on investing in training them before they are able to deploy to the bedside,” he added.
Aside from the skills gap, Mr. Pillai said another challenge faced by hospitals is competition for nurses from the business process outsourcing (BPO) industry. BPOs do significant business in health-related services like medical transcription, causing them to recruit from the same pool of candidates hospitals are seeking.
He cited salary and work environment as some of the factors that entice nursing graduates to consider the BPO industry instead of hospitals.
“There are huge amount of (nursing) graduates who are not going overseas, but they are going laterally into the BPO sector. They are all here in the country, but not available for hospitals or healthcare,” Mr. Pillai said.
“It is also a big challenge for us because it is very difficult for traditional healthcare players like hospitals to compete not just with the pay grade of BPOs, but also the quality of life. It is more of a desk job, so the stress is not there,” he added.
MPH Chief Nursing Officer Annabelle R. Borromeo said the skills gap with new nursing graduates is a “nationwide and global phenomenon.”
She said hospitals are actively seeking to improve nurse retention rates.
“This is a nationwide and global phenomenon. What do we do? We identify one to two units in each of our hospitals. We have hand-holding (initiatives) there. We have senior nurses there who will help direct the nurses,” Ms. Borromeo said.
“We need to really face the fact that we don’t have enough nurses. We still haven’t returned to pre-pandemic levels where one school (can produce as many as) 12,000 graduates… We haven’t reached that stage yet,” she added.
Last month, the government introduced the Clinical Care Associates Upskilling Program in response to the nursing shortage. The program allows unlicensed nursing graduates to perform essential noncore functions under the supervision of registered nurses.
MPH, the healthcare unit of Metro Pacific Investments Corp. (MPIC), has 22 hospitals in its network, including include Makati Medical Center, Asian Hospital and Medical Center, Cardinal Santos Medical Center, Riverside Medical Center, and Davao Doctors Hospital.
MPIC is one of three key Philippine units of First Pacific, the others being Philex Mining Corp. and PLDT Inc. Hastings Holdings, Inc., a unit of PLDT Beneficial Trust Fund subsidiary MediaQuest Holdings, Inc., has a majority stake in BusinessWorld through the Philippine Star Group, which it controls. — Revin Mikhael D. Ochave