By Syeda Amtul/Saudi Gazette
Saudi Arabia is one of the main destinations for registered Filipino nurses. The Saudi Ministry of Health is the top employer of Filipino nurses here.
The Philippines and the Kingdom have agreed to provide training programs for Filipino nursing graduates intending to work in Saudi Arabia, according to an announcement made by Labor Undersecretary Carmelita M. Pineda during a farewell reception for Ambassador Antonio P. Villamor.
The new initiative was agreed after talks with Ministry of Health (MOH) officials led by Deputy Health Minister Ali Al-Qahtani.
Filipino nursing graduates who go through the training program will be assured of work at MoH hospitals and primary health care centers in Saudi Arabia. Vicente M.Cabe, Labor Attaché at the Consulate General of Philippines in Jeddah, explained that the training program would be equivalent to a six-month work experience in a hospital. Filipino nursing graduate who undergoes the training will need only one-and-a-half years of work experience, because the Kingdom usually requires two years work experience when hiring nurses.
“We have many inexperienced nurses or their experience is not matching the required skill. These nurses can take advantage of this new program,” said M. Cabe.
According to the Labor Undersecretary Pineda, nurses will also be assured of higher salaries compared to the current wages by hospitals and primary health care centers in the Kingdom.
Financial constraints is the main reason for these Filipino nurses to leave their home and hearth to move to Saudi Arabia.
“The main reason for me to choose this country was my financial status. Like many other nurses, I am satisfied with my salary and working atmosphere,” said Bellia Gasecia, a 37-year-old nurse working in a Ministry of Health hospital.
She, however, says that salary structure and work atmosphere varies according to a nurse’s work experience and the employer.
Filipino nurses in Saudi Arabia got a salary raise ranging from 20 percent to 60 percent of their current salary in March 2008, depending on the area of specialization, according to POEA (Philippine Overseas Employ Administration).
The current salary of nurses in Saudi hospitals ranges from SR2,500 to SR4,500 a month, based on their experience and the hospital they are employed in. There are nearly 130,000 nurses are currently working in Saudi Arabia. – SG
The following are the main reasons for Filipino nurses to opt for employment in the Kingdom:
• Tax free salaries
• Free furnished accommodation
• Generous annual leave of up to 54 days
• Low cost of living which saving easier
• Yearly round trip ticket
• Free medical coverage
• Suitable multinational environment
• Opportunity to travel
• World class tertiary referral centers.