President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. underscored the importance of “overcoming the handicaps” of the healthcare system in the Philippines by allowing nursing underboard graduates to work as clinical care associates.

The President made the pitch during the signing  of a memorandum of understanding (MOU) on Thursday for the launch of the Clinical Care Associates (CCA) Upskilling Program, designed to create a pool of licensed nurses and to address the shortage of nurses in the country. 

“And as a very simple explanation, it allows…those nursing graduates who have taken their boards and have not been able to pass the board this time will be allowed to work nonetheless if they can establish their competencies in certain subjects of the nursing curriculum. And that way, they can get to work immediately,” the President said.

In his speech, President Marcos stressed the need to meet the demands of the medical professionals, who played pivotal roles in the development of the country’s healthcare system attainable through the CCA Upskilling Program, which was formalized through Joint Administrative Order (JAO) No. 2023-0001 and the signed MOU. 

The Commission on Higher Education (CHED) and the Department of Health (DOH) issued JAO No. 2023-0001 on July 19, 2023, as part of the efforts of the Marcos administration to address the shortage of healthcare practitioners in the Philippines.  

It was issued pursuant to the recommendation of the Private Sector Advisory Council-Healthcare Sector Group (PSAC-HSG) to provide underboard nursing graduates a path to employment as CCAs in hospitals while capacitating them to pass the licensure examinations for nursing. 

In his speech shortly after the signing of the MOU, President Marcos branded the program as “a groundbreaking endeavor.” 

“So, aside from the boost that it will give to the quality of our healthcare professional services, it will also reaffirm the unified efforts of our agencies, hospitals, and higher education institutions to prepare our nursing graduates for their board exams and their chosen career paths,” the President added. 

Under the MOU, public and private hospitals agreed to hire underboard nursing graduates as CCAs for one year, which can be renewed twice if they fail to pass the licensure examinations for nursing, and to develop an upskilling program in coordination with higher education institutions.  

The Department of Health (DOH) estimated a shortage of 114,743 nurses in the Philippines as of December 2022 while the Professional Regulatory Commission (PRC) noted that only 53.55 percent of registered nurses are active and are practicing in the health sector. 

Citing the significant purpose of the CCA Upskilling Program, President Marcos extended his gratitude to the Private Sector Advisory Council-Healthcare Sector Group for their participation in coming up with the program, which he considered a fruit of unity between the government and the private healthcare sectors. 

“Indeed, the nation cannot and will not stand on the grit and energy of just a few,” President Marcos said. 

President Marcos also urged all the stakeholders involved to start acting on conditions set under the MOU and not to waste time in passing on to the learners the highest level of competence, hospitality, and service that the Filipinos are known for globally.

The chief executive also directed the DOH and CHED to oversee the efficient implementation of the CCA Upskilling Program and ensure that it is compliant with global standards.  

The President urged underboard nurses to grab the opportunity and apply for the program as he assured them that the government will not stop looking for solutions to address the healthcare issues in the Philippines.  

“And to the underboard nurses out there who are contemplating on what to do next: I call on you to apply for this program and embrace the support being wholeheartedly given to you by the government and the institutions that we represent,” President Marcos said. 

“I invite you to participate and witness just how much development we can bring to the healthcare sector and the nation while you work to fulfill your most noble calling. So, let me say it again: We will not stop working until we address every major problem hindering our people from living their best – and healthiest – lives,” he added. 

“We will continue striving until such a time that our Filipino professionals choose to work in their own country, and be known for providing excellent service here at home, just as much as we are known for being exemplary healthcare providers in the rest of the world.”

Lastly, President Marcos said that the CCA Upskilling Program is just one of the major programs of the administration leading toward the “New Philippines.” | PND

Photo Courtesy by PCO