Friday, February 5, 2016

Reforms to protect and develop the Nursing profession for final approval

The House of Representatives last Monday (Feb. 1) approved on third and final reading HB 6411 which would institute reforms to further protect and develop the nursing profession.

HB 6411, approved on second reading by the bigger chamber last January 27, is entitled "An Act providing for a comprehensive Nursing Law towards a quality health care system, and appropriating funds therefor, repealing for the purpose Republic act No. 9173, otherwise known as the 'Philippine Nursing Act of 2002'."

The measure is in substitution of House Bill Nos. 151, 1372 and 1970 with Reps. Leah S. Paquiz, Carlos M. Padilla, Rufus B. Rodriguez, Maximo B. Rodriguez, Jr., Andres D. Salvacion, Jr., Isidro T. Ungab, Susan A. Yap, Mariano U. Piamonte, Jr., Gary C. Alejano, Ma. Victoria R. Sy-Alvarado, and Anthony G. Del Rosario as authors.

The measure was sponsored by the Committee on Civil Service and Professional Regulation chaired by Rep. Salvacion and endorsed, relative to its funding provisions, by the Committee on Appropriations chaired by Rep. Ungab.

The amendatory statute, to be known as the Comprehensive Nursing Law, seeks to restructure the scope and practice of Nursing, ensure competitiveness, provide a better practice environment and strengthen the nursing profession, the authors said.

Relative to the restructuring of the scope and practice of nursing, the bill included certification, specialization, and educational requirements as among the key provisions to ensure a competitive nursing profession in the country.

The proposed law expands the powers of the Board of Nursing to strengthen its role in decision-making processes concerning the nursing practice, while providing for additional requirements for different levels of the nursing practice.

Another vital provision mandates the Department of Health to formulate and develop an Advance Practice Nursing Program that would upgrade the level of skills and competence of specialty nurse-clinicians in the country.

RA 9173, the authors pointed out, was enacted in 2002 to provide a comprehensive definition and understanding of the nursing profession. The said stature delineates the scope of work of registered Filipino nurses, establishes linkages with community resources and requires the updating of professional knowledge in the nursing field, patient care, levels of nursing practices and development of nursing education.

"This is in recognition of the vital role nurses play in the delivery of quality health services not only in the country, but all over the world," they said, adding however that changing times needs adjustments in policies to make the law in-step with present developments.

The authors were one in noting that almost a decade since the enactment of RA 9173, significant factors and challenges critical to the development of nursing practice in the country have emerged.

"This includes providing humane and globally competitive and competent nursing care, ensuring positive practice environment for nurses, strengthening the Philippine nursing profession as a recognized leader in primary health care, enforcing quality standards in nursing education and practice, and providing guidelines toward nursing career progression," the authors explained.

The authors cited data from the commission on Higher Education which showed that the number of nursing students rose from 30,000 in 2000 to 450,000 in 2007.

On the other hand, a Professional Regulation Commission data showed that the total number of registered nurses as of 2003 was 332,206. In addition, the authors said, demand for Filipino nurses abroad has risen steadily over the past decades.

"Given the statistics, it is but necessary to institute reforms by amending RA 9173 so that the nurses are accorded further protection and their welfare enhanced, and for the law to better respond to the needs of nurses, their patients and the whole nursing practice," the authors concluded. (House of Representatives)

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