CHED eyes ‘innovative’ ways to address shortage of nurses in PH

At a glance

  • There are 617, 898 nurses licensed to practice but of this number, 51.2 percent or 316,405 Filipino nurses are “migrant health workers” based on the data from the Department of Health (DOH).

  • To address the shortage of nurses in the country, the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) is eyeing the rollout of a nursing curriculum with exit credentials and redirection of non-practicing licensed nurses --- among others.


The Commission on Higher Education (CHED) on Thursday, March 30, has identified the challenges and laid out solutions to address the shortage of nurses in the Philippine healthcare system.

In a press conference, CHED Chairman Prospero De Vera III noted that the issue of the shortage of nurses is not a “new one” and it is a concern that “we have to address as a country.”

“It is not just a domestic [problem], it’s international,” he explained. He added that “all over the world, different countries are adopting different strategies on how to be able to recruit healthcare professionals.”

Why is there a shortage of nurses?

De Vera explained that among the challenges that need to be addressed include the migration and underemployment of nurses.

Citing data from the Department of Health (DOH), De Vera said that there are 617, 898 nurses licensed to practice.

Of this number, 28.5 percent, or 175,900 are nurses in public and private health facilities; 19.7 percent, or 121, 688 are nurses with unspecified practice or those who are underemployed, unemployed, working in business and IT sectors, continuing their studies towards medicine or law, among others; 0.6 percent or 3,905 are in other fields of practice.

Meanwhile, 51.2 percent or 316,405 Filipino nurses licensed to practice are “migrant health workers.”

De Vera noted that while the migration is a big factor in why there is a shortage of nurses in the country, “the fact that they can practice everywhere is a testament to the high quality of education that we have in the Philippines.”

“We have to be innovative in the strategies that we will do to keep them here,” he added.

Another reason why there is a shortage of nurses in the moratorium on BS Nursing Programs declared by CHED in 2010 due to the oversupply of graduates with no jobs; the gradual decline in the performance of nursing education graduates in the licensure exams; proliferation of HEIs offering BS Nursing programs and the “Training for a fee” practice wherein nursing students were paying hospitals to be trained or get the certification.

What can CHED do?

On the part of CHED, De Vera said that the Commission issued an order in 2011 to gradually phase out BS programs for HEIs with an average passing rate of 30 percent for three years.

De Vera said that for the non-compliant HEIs, the government revoked their authority to operate a nursing program.

CHED is also pushing for increasing HEIs offering BS Nursing Programs in other regions.

De Vera noted that there is also a need for additional Health Human Resources by increasing the number of enrollees and graduates for new HEIs after lifting the moratorium.

Moreover, CHED is also eyeing a BS Nursing curriculum with Exit Credentials. “This is a curriculum that has been developed in CHED and in can be rolled out,” De Vera explained.

If this program has been rolled out, De Vera said that in two years, there will be “an additional nursing manpower” which can be integrated into the health facilities.

CHED is also pushing for the redirection of non-practicing licensed nurses.

For future nurses, De Vera also underscored the urgent need for upskilling and reskilling which include providing incentives and financial support to deserving nursing graduates who will pass the nursing licensure exams, among others.