Americas News

US senator eyes sending American students to PHL nursing schools, Marcos open to plan

By Jenny T. Santos, Correspondent

MANILA –  American students taking up nursing course in Philippine nursing schools? Why not?

The plan was put forward by visiting United States Sen. Tammy Duckworth of Chicago, Illinois during a call on President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. in Malacanang Palace and in talks with other officials.

Duckworth discussed the plan as the United States is facing a nursing staffing crisis which, according to the American Nurses Association (ANA)  has become a pressing concern in 2023. ” The COVID-19 pandemic, aging population, increasing healthcare demands, and workforce challenges have converged, highlighting the urgent need for effective strategies to address these shortages, according to ANA.

Duckworth  cited the many Filipino nurses in the US and the quality of service they provide as she recognized the competency of Filipino nurses.

Duckworth is an Iraq war veteran, Purpe Heart recipient, former assistant secretary of the US Department of Veterans Affairs and was among the first Army women to fly combat missions during “Operation Iraqi Freedom,” launched on March 19, 2003, to rid Iraq of its weapons of mass destruction and replace Saddam Hussein’s regime with a democracy supported by the citizens.

She won a seat at the US Senate after representing Illinois’s Eight Congressional District in the US House of Representatives for two terms. She just won reelection as US senator last year.

At the US Senate, Duckworth is a member of the committees on armed services, environment and public works, commerce, science, transportation and small business and entrepreneurship.

Filipinos all over the US are recognized for being well-educated and for their fluency in the English language, among other factors, Duckworth said during the meeting attended also by US Ambassador to Manila MaryKay Carlson and other officials.

Given the quality of service and the number of Filipino nurses in the US, Duckworth told Marcos about her discussion with the US Embassy in the Philippines on the possibility of sending American students to nursing schools in the country.

The plan is seen as a solution to address the United States’ shortage of nursing programs and residency slots.

“You know, it would be really interesting to see if we could send American students to nursing schools in the Philippines because, obviously, you’re teaching to a standard that they can meet licensure in the US. But we don’t have enough nursing programs in the United States,” Duckworth said.

“We don’t have enough nursing educators in the United States,” she added.

Marcos later said he is seeking a review of the possible partnership between the Philippines and the United States to strengthen the nursing industry of both countries, Malacañang disclosed.

In a statement,  Marcos is open to the idea of forging an agreement with the US to elevate the nursing profession and address the problems besetting the sector.

“Let’s look into it… I’m sure if we figure out the details, that probably… sounds like a good idea,” Marcos said.

Marcos said he wants to study the proposal before making any decision.

“We do have a problem with our nurses leaving and going abroad and finding good jobs abroad. And we certainly encourage that. We’re not about to hold them back,” Marcos said during his meeting with Duckworth.

“But we need to find these new schemes so that the brain drain is not quite severe as it is now. We have a shortage, I think, at every level in our health care system and much of the reason behind that is the talent leaving the Philippines to find better positions. But certainly, we should examine that.”

While there is no formal agreement yet, Marcos and Duckworth agreed that the proposal would benefit the two countries.

During the meeting, Marcos  reaffirmed his commitment to forge more partnerships with the US government.

They discussed the impact of climate change and the pandemic on the world economy.

Marcos and Duckworth talked about the Philippines and the US governments’ shift to renewable energy to transform the economy in the post-pandemic era.

Duckworth told Marcos that the Philippines and the US may collaborate for the production of electronic vehicle batteries to meet the huge demand of the American market.

“I can’t think of a better place to create a new manufacturing ecosystem for the American market than here in the Philippines where we can work together to supply that market so that we can continue to make our switch to renewables as well. And there are many other places where we can work together,” Duckworth said.

“And again, I would rather have America’s manufacturing supply chain rest here in a nation that has been a long-time friend and ally, than in a nation that is our adversary or our competitor. And so, I think there are lots of opportunities and we had a really productive meeting,” she added.

Marcos said the Philippines has great potential for battery manufacturing, considering the presence of mineral deposits that are necessary elements for battery production.

“We have nickel, we have bauxite, we have cobalt. And so, the idea of manufacturing….has shown more and more potential, the more we study it,” he told Duckworth.

“And, so this is what we are hoping to develop here. Not just — we will have a demand locally for these batteries but not just for the local demand but also for sale to other countries and for other markets. That is certainly something that we have been pushing very hard for in terms of developing the capabilities.”

Duckworth had already discussed with Environment Secretary Maria Antonia Yulo-Loyzaga and Energy Secretary Raphael Lotilla about the US’ transition to renewable energy sources and the current challenges it is facing.