By Don Tagala, ABS-CBN North America Bureau

March 7, 2013

NEW YORK – Philippine senatorial candidate Cynthia Villar has apologized and has explained in detail her controversial statement in an election forum that earned the ire of Filipino nurses around the world.

Many Filipino nurses doubt the sincerity of her apology, including some members of the Philippine Nurses Association of New York.
Filipino nurse Menchu Sanchez, who was recently honored by President Obama for her heroic act of saving babies during the Superstorm Sandy devastation in New York says, Filipino nurses may forgive Villar but they will never forget her hurtful words.

“Ang taas na ng pagtingin ng mundo sa atin, naitaas na natin eh, tapos binababa naman niya,” Sanchez said.
“Talagang na hurt talaga ang mga nurses, ang sabi ko nga everybody has their own mind, masasabi niya kahit anong gusto niyang sabihin. Pero may magagawa tayo. Ang dapat nating gawin, yung mga ganung tao hindi natin nilalagay sa pwesto.”

Former PNAA President May Mayor said, “Actually wala na siyang magagawa dahil nasabi na niya yun eh, so it’s done, sinabi na niya yung kanyang insulting remark to the nurses and we just have to move on and hope that she will educate herself on what truly is a nurse.”
In a position statement issued by the Philippine Nurses Association of America this on March 4, PNAA recommended that Villar meet with some of their high ranking members to discuss with her the value of educational preparation for Filipino nurses in the US.

PNAA said that research shows that a higher percentage of nurses with BSN or Bachelors Degree in Nursing result in better Patient care. Unlike Associates Degree programs in nursing, BSN prepare nurses better in today’s health care environment…

PNAA also recommended Villar to spend some time with real nurses.

Mayor said, “I think she can go to the Philippines Nurses Association in Manila, as well as to the Association of Deans of Philippine colleges of nursing; get herself exposed to what a nurse does. Probably a day spent with the nurses from the bedside to the boardroom will make her realize the complexity of the nursing profession.”

Their statements came after Villar said that nurses do not need a Bachelor’s Degree in nursing and that they don’t even have to be that good because all they want is just to be a “room nurse” or caregiver abroad.

In a televised forum, Villar said: “Actually hindi naman kailangan ng nurse ay matapos ang BSN. Kasi itong ating mga nurses, gusto lang nilang maging room nurse, sa America or other countries e ano lang sila, yung parang mag-aalaga. Hindi naman sila kailangan maging ganoon ka galing.”

The PNAA explained that since the 70s, a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) has been the Philippines’ entry level degree when it comes to this particular profession.

The association said even in states like New York, New Jersey, Kansas, Oklahoma and Missouri, there is legislation that would soon require Registered Nurses or RN’s to obtain a BSN re-licensure to be able to work in many hospitals. If passed, many hospitals will no longer hire nurses with Associates Degree only.

Philippines Nurses Association, New York President, Vernie Bacolot says,
if Villar was referring to nurse’s aides or caregivers when she referred to ”room nurse” then Villar really needs to learn more about the profession.

President, PNA New York, Vernie Bacolot said, “It will not be easy for them if they’re not Bachelor’s because Bachelor’s is actually a requirement in the US to work as a nurse, kung gusto mo mag-work ng anything not necessarily a nurse, you don’t have to be nurse from the Philippines.”

Mayor said, “It was an insulting statement, it was disrespectful of the nursing profession, it was demeaning and it showed a person of total ignorance who did not acquaint herself with the nursing profession.”

Villar has explained that she was not given enough time to respond better during the controversial forum and that she meant caregiver when she said “room nurse.”


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