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Nursing in the Philippines

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Title: Nursing in the Philippines  
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Subject: History of medicine in the Philippines, Nursing in the Philippines, Health in the Philippines, Iloilo Mission Hospital, Nursing in Taiwan
Collection: Health in the Philippines, Nursing in the Philippines
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Nursing in the Philippines

The history of nursing in the Philippines stems from the caregiving provided by women, priests, and herb doctors during precolonial Philippines. This trend continue during the Spanish colonial era, although women did not have much opportunity to be formally educated in schools because only a limited number of Filipino women received primary education in charitable institutions established by Spaniards. During the Philippine revolution against, Filipino women also became the providers of care for wounded revolutionaries. During the American period in the Philippines, Filipino women were given the chance to become educated as nurses, guided by their American nurse and missionary mentors, until nursing became a full-pledged profession in the Philippines, a professional career not only for modern-day women in the country but also for men in the Philippines (as male nurses).

The growth of Nursing in the Philippines as a profession is preceded by a culture of care which was inherent in the culture of the Filipino people. Such was said to be present even prior to the Spanish colonization in communities and evolved as the health system delivery also came about.[1]


  • History 1
    • Early Philippines 1.1
    • Spanish colonial rule 1.2
    • Philippine Revolution 1.3
    • American colonial rule 1.4
    • Post-colonial Philippines 1.5
    • Today 1.6
  • Education 2
  • Legal regulation 3
  • See also 4
  • References 5


Early Philippines

Early beliefs of health and illness in the Philippines were in conjunction with beliefs of mysticism and superstitions.[2] The cause of a disease was believed to be due to either another person, whom which was an enemy, or a witch or evil spirits. Filipinos were careful not to upset other people or the evil spirits for the good of their health. These evil spirits could be driven away by persons with power to banish demons. The individuals who were known to rid of demons were either priests or herb doctors. Filipinos who became sick were usually cared for by the female family members or friends in the home.[3]

Spanish colonial rule

During Spain's colonial rule (1521-1898) the Philippine education system offered distinct and unequal opportunities for Filipinos based on gender. An example of this sexism, was allowing only limited numbers of females receive primary education in Spanish charitable institutions.[3] Without an education women were unable to gain much knowledge or power. The knowledge of caring for others came from family members and personal experience with the sick. Nursing other individuals was seen as a task not a job or a profession. During the Spanish regime many specialized hospitals were established to care for Spanish king’s soldiers and civilians.[2] To many elite Filipinos the Spanish colonial hospitals were places where those who were not so fortunate to have homes, spent their last days until death.[3]

Philippine Revolution

At the time of the Philippine Revolution many women transformed their homes into quarters to nurse Filipino soldiers and revolutionaries.[2] One of these women was Melchora Aquino, also known as the Mother of the Philippine revolution. In her old age of about 80, Aquino was a supporter of the revolution by providing food and shelter to the revolutionists. In addition she provided care for those who became sick or wounded. However, a few days after the revolution began, Aquino was arrested by the Spaniards for providing care to the rebels. In her strong will to not reveal any information to the Spanish about the location of the rebel leader, Aquino was deported to Guam in the Marianas. After six years of being exiled, the Mother of the Philippine revolution was able to return in 1903, when the Philippines finally gained independence from the Americans. Aquino’s work caring for the ill and the wounded during the revolution has brought comparisons to the British Florence Nightingale. Both these women cared for soldiers during war and paved the way for nursing practice.[4]

American colonial rule

Union Mission Hospital Training School for Nurses which was established in 1906 by Presbyterian American missionaries, pioneered the Nursing education in the Philippines. The school was later transferred to Central Philippine University.

Although the Philippines had gained independence from Spain, the United States began to instill their power upon the islands and this broke out in conflict between the Filipinos and the Americans. It was the start of the Philippine–American War. The presence of Americans played a vital role in influencing the development of nursing into a profession. Nurses and missionaries from the United States came to act as nurse mentors for the Filipina women. Nursing education, like teaching and missionary work in the Philippines provided white American women with a sense of purpose in the colony.[3] This influence then continued with the building of many hospitals where American nurses took charge and Filipino women began to learn under careful eyes. An example of this was the development of the Iloilo Mission Hospital. The Iloilo started from a humble beginning.[5] In 1901, through the efforts of Dr. and Mrs. Andrew J. Hall, missionaries of the Presbyterian Foreign Mission Board, a temporary bamboo clinic was erected at Calle Amparo (now Ledesma Street), Iloilo City,; to serve as a venue for the treatment of health care to the very poor. This was made possible because Andrew Hall was a doctor and his wife was a nurse. Like other professions, nursing in the Philippines evolved from the apprenticeship system.

This system laid the foundation upon which the Union Mission Hospital School of Nursing (then Iloilo Mission Hospital School of Nursing and now Central Philippine University College of Nursing) was built. Between the time that this school was built and the time that the Philippines gained their independence from US colonial rule in 1946, the nursing profession continued to grow with the development of more nursing schools and the growth of Filipinas seeking the title of a nurse.[2] While taking advantage of these learning opportunities Filipinos began to learn more about the United States and the opportunities that the country could hold for them, such as extending their education and increased pay. This began the migration of nurses to the United States. As individuals began travelling to and from United States, the stories they brought home began to spark the interest of others to follow.[6]

Post-colonial Philippines

After World War II, when Manuel Roxas assumed the presidency of the Republic of the Philippines on July 4, 1946, it officially marked the end of the colonialism between the United States and the Philippines. Like much of the rest of the world, the Philippine islands were in ruins and Roxas was determined to rebuild his country. He made it clear to his constituents that the new government was still going to rely heavily on US financial support in order to rehabilitate its national economy. Roxas’ first attempts to balance the Philippines budget included collecting unpaid taxes, reducing expenses and promoting foreign trade. Forms of foreign trade would include the exportation of Filipino nurses. Already trained by Americans, Filipino nurses were the perfect candidates to assist the United States and other countries experiencing post World War II shortages. At the time in the Philippines there was also rumor of nursing shortage however it was questioned to be true do to the expanding health programs, inefficient use of nurses’ time and skills and loss of qualified nurses to other countries. By the mid 1960s, Filipino nurses were entering the United States by the thousands.[7] The benefit to the travelling nurses was that they were able to make nearly 20 times as much as they were earning back home. Part of this money would be sent back to their families as remittance and this remittance would in turn assist in boosting the Philippine economy. The negative effects of the high exportation rate, was that the nurses were adding to their own country’s nursing shortage problem. As well the Philippines faced losing one of its greatest sources of social capital, which are educated workers. The negative effects are also seen in the United States as American salaries decrease because Philippine nurses that newly arrive would work the same job at a lower wage.


The Philippines is the leader in exporting nurses to meet the demands of the United States and other developed nations. It has been argued however, that The Philippines' persistent production of nurses for the global market is a state strategy to develop an export industry for economic development. Things such as immigration services and nursing licensing authorities encourage the production of nurses for export.[7]


All registered nurses in the Philippines are required to have a Bachelor's degree in Nursing.[8]

Legal regulation

The Professional Regulation Commission (PRC) oversees the licensing of registered nurses as authorized by the Philippine Nursing Act of 2002.

A Professional Regulatory Nursing Board implements and enforces the Nursing Act. The board is composed of a chairperson and six additional members, all of whom are nurses with at least a master's degree and ten years of nursing experience. The board inspects nursing schools, conducts licensure examinations, issues and monitors certificates of licensure, promulgates a code of ethics, participates in recognizing nursing specialty organizations, and prescribes guidelines and regulations governing the profession under the Nursing Act.

In 2009, the Commission on Higher Education of the Philippines released a report showing the Top 20 nursing schools in country based on average passing rates in nursing board examinations. The top 20 Nursing Schools in the Philippines with 1000 or more examinees are the following: Silliman University clinched the top post having an average of 96.57 percent followed by the Saint Louis University, 95.42; Trinity University of Asia with 95.06; University of Sto. Tomas, 95.06; Cebu Doctors' University, 91.89; Saint Paul University, 89.79; Central Philippine University, 86.72; De La Salle University-Health Sciences campus, 85.26; Saint Mary’s University, 84.10; San Pedro College, 83. 10; Manila Doctors College, 82.56; Centro Escolar University-Manila, 81.50; Angeles University Foundation, 76.37; Mariano Marcos University, 75.55; University of San Agustin, 73.25; University of Cebu, 70.99; Metropolitan Hospital College of Nursing, 70.54; Ateneo de Davao University, 70.20; San Juan De Dios Education Foundation, 69. 91; and University of St. La Salle, 67.55.[9]

For 100 to 999 takers the following are the top 20 Nursing Schools in the Philippines: University of the Philippines Manila topped the list with 99.41 percent; followed by Xavier University with 97.82; West Visayas State University, 96.75; St. Paul University-Iloilo, 96.16; University of the East Ramon Magsaysay Memorial Medical Center, 95.80; Cebu Normal University, 94.64; Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila, 93.14; St. Paul University-Dumaguete, 92.29; Mindanao State University, 92.15; Palawan State University, 92.05; Philippine Christian University, 91.35; Velez College, 90.92; Colegio de Sta. Lourdes of Leyte Foundation, 88. 55; Chinese General Hospital College of Nursing and Liberal Arts, 87.60; St. Paul University-Manila, 85.31; Easter College, 85.26; Southville International School and Colleges, 84.77; St. Paul University-Quezon City, 83.87; Adamson University, 83.57; and Lyceum of the Philippines University with 82.20.[10]

Only three schools had 100% passing rate (with 10 or more examinees) from November 2009 to July 2011: University of the Philippines Manila, Philippine Christian University, and Negros Oriental State University.[11]

See also


  1. ^ "NURSING & MIDWIFERY DATA BANK The Philippines". 
  2. ^ a b c d Nursing Portal Philippines [1]. Retrieved 2012-06-07.
  3. ^ a b c d Choy, Catherine Ceniza. (2003).[2].Empire of Care . Google e-book preview. Retrieved 2012-06-07.
  4. ^ Renato Perdon [3].200 Year Birth Anniversary of Melchora Aquino: Mother of Philippine revolution”.
  5. ^ Pedregosa, Elmer (2001). History of Iloilo Mission Hospital
  6. ^ Choy, Catherine Ceniza. (2010). Nurses Across Borders: Foregrounding International Migration in Nursing History
  7. ^ a b Brush, Barbara. ( 2010). The Potent Lever of Toil: Nursing Development and Exportation in the Post colonial Philippines
  8. ^ "Nurse Immigration Information". 
  9. ^ Angelo G. Garcia. "152 nursing schools told: Improve or else…". Manila Bulletin. Retrieved 2009-12-18.
  10. ^ Hannibal C. Talete. "CHED warns 152 nursing schools for low performance". Retrieved 2010-04-27.
  11. ^
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