Wake Up, Philippines!

Is the health care industry recession-proof?

Posted in Global Financial Crisis, Health, Health Care by Erineus on March 6, 2009
By Rowena Bautista-Alcaraz
February 23, 2009

A recent government-to-government arrangement was made that will initially bring some 300 Filipino nurses to work for Japanese hospitals. This is good news considering the current economic slump worldwide. And then came the announcement of RCM Health Care Services’ need for occupational (OT) and physical therapists (PT) in the United States. Now that’s even greater news!

RCM is a recognized leader in health care staffing solutions, backed by 30 years of experience. Six years ago, it partnered with the leading HR solutions provider in the region, John Clements Consultants, Inc., and its overseas staffing partner, EDI Staff Builders, in promoting work opportunities, particularly for therapists.

According to RCM’s senior vice president Michael Saks during their recent visit to the country, “the Bureau of Labor and Statistics shows nursing and physical and occupational therapy as the major health care job occupations with the fastest employment growth.” It is estimated that by the year 2014, health services employment is projected to increase dramatically with over 4,700,000 new health care jobs.

“Even in an economic downturn, one sector is staying strong, and that is health care. Intangible job markets such as health care and education has grown by over 500,000 jobs since the recession began,” Saks shares.

Marc Chafetz, RCM’s vice president, also agrees, “The health care industry is pretty much recession-resistant. We have more jobs than we’ve ever had. While some of the smaller companies who used to come and recruit in the Philippines has pretty much gone out of business and stopped coming, we, on the other hand, increased our efforts by coming twice in a year now.”

Strong demand for Filipinos

According to the Philippine Department of Health Report in 2007, 85 percent of Filipino health care professionals are working overseas, making the country the number one exporter of nurses and therapists worldwide. Between 12,000 and 15,000 nurses, therapists and other professionals are reported to leave the Philippines each year to work abroad, mostly in the United States.

“Filipinos consistently provide excellent and world-class service in the field of heath care all over the world. And the top three reasons why US health care institutions choose Filipino therapists and nurses are because of their strong work ethics, outstanding educational training, and genuine compassion in caring for patients,” explains Chafetz.

And while there’s currently a strong demand, RCM focuses its initiative on raising public awareness on these relatively unexplored fields with the end of getting more Filipinos interested in working as therapists in the US. It has partnered with various educational institutions across the country to create scholarship programs for students of physical and occupational therapy courses. RCM sees the development of educational programs in occupational and physical therapy as integral to increasing employment for Filipinos in the American health care industry.

“Our goal is to help local universities produce as many qualified OTs and PTs as possible for deployment to the US. We have critical shortages in the US, and to think that qualified therapists will never graduate solely because of money is a hard notion to grasp,” says Saks.

With yearly trips to the Philippines, RCM had the opportunity to tour the country, lecturing to students at various universities, nursing schools, and rehabilitation schools. They also hold seminars in every major city around the country for qualified RNs, PTs, and OTs that are looking for sponsorship. Some of its current partner schools are the University of the Philippines, the University of Santo Tomas, Cebu Doctor’s College, and Emilio Aguinaldo College.

“The cost is prohibitive to go to school and enter a career, so we have tried to be creative and come up with ways to develop scholarship programs, help therapists go to school, to learn, to get a degree, but to still dream of a great job opportunity in the US,” Chafetz tells.

He finally ends, “We’ve made it a mission as an organization to get out in the field to educate people about the opportunity. We are very committed to expanding that as a profession so we can let them know about different opportunities.”


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