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Nurses (and the public) deserve better than Cynthia Villar

Posted Mar 02 2013 7:05am 1 Comment
I was out of Manila when I received messages from Filipino nurses about the remarks made recently by senatorial candidate and former Las Pinas City Representative Cynthia Villar. 

It was during one of the episodes of "Pagsubok ng mga Kandidato" aired by GMA News TV last February 23, 2013 when Cynthia Villar was asked by Winnie Monsod regarding the issue of the CHED & the Technical Committee on Nursing Education's (TCNE) attempt to close down low performing nursing schools during her term as the chair of the House Committee on Higher & Technical Education. 

She tries to defend herself and disconnects from the allegation that she was also one of the reasons why CHED Chairperson and the rest of the members of the TCNE resigned during her term. And then when she responded to the question, she just blew it.
See the video:
I watched the video attentively and was so amused with how she responded - this lady does not know what she is talking about! 
In an attempt to redeem herself and to distance herself from the issue - she made remarks derogatory to hundreds of thousands of Filipino nurses - all of whom are potential voters. 
Let me explain to fellow nurses how I interpreted Mrs. Villar's statements:
"Maraming salamat Mareng Winnie I want to explain that situation to you, hindi naman ganoon ang istorya noon. Ang nangyari noon, binigyan nila ng permit yung mga schools to open, ng CHED. Tapos gusto nila ipasara, nakapag-invest na yung mga may-ari ng schools sa mga kanilang facilities. And then, sinasabi nila na kaya daw nila gustong ipasara dahil walang tertiary hospital, kasi sa mga nursing school to, na where they can train."
She is speaking as a businesswoman, not as a people's representative. CHED would of course give and approve a school's permit to operate a nursing course should they pass all requirements due them. Operating a school and a college of nursing need investment - as any other business do - and that part of that is what you call maintaining certain level of standards. Similarly, any business would need to maintain the quality of their work so the consumers' interests are maintained and they patronize it.
CHED is not just a permit-giving institution, it is also an agency of the government that checks and regulates Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) and have the capacity to revoke licences to operate any curriculum offered that is not achieving the standards. I believe that the lack of affiliations to tertiary hospitals is one of the reasons, but performance in the Nursing Licensure Examinations (NLE) is another reason. 
I was told that when shutting a nursing school or college, CHED would "taper" and would not immediately close as many would perceive. This would mean closing a college of nursing would take sometime, closing the admission of students annually until all students who are left would have graduated.

And she proceeded humiliating herself by saying:
"No, yung pag-reresign po ni Father is a personal quarrel with the owner of a school. Medyo personal po yun. Pero yung amin po, ay sinasabi po namin sa kanila na actually, HINDI NAMAN KAILANGAN ANG NURSE AY MATAPOS NG BSN, KASI ITONG ATING MGA NURSES, GUSTO LANG NILA MAGING "ROOM NURSE." SA AMERICA OR SA OTHER COUNTRIES ANO LANG SILA, YUNG PARANG MAG-AALAGA. HINDI NAMAN SILA KAILANGAN GANOON KAGALING."
Que Horror! I lost words in this response. Seriously.
As much as I tried to analyze her response, I still think it was reckless and derogatory to the country's largest number of health professionals. Mrs. Villar, this is a shame.
In her statement Mrs. Villar claimed that "many" nursing students in fact did not want to complete the entire nursing course. According to her "They requested that maybe they can be given certificates when they complete two years of studies. Those who want to and can afford to transfer to other schools, with tertiary hospitals, can do so. And those who cannot and want to work as caregivers would be allowed to do so also. Many students clamored for such an option…they wanted to have a certificate to be qualified as a caregiver."  (Read her full statement here ). 
I really do not understand the connection between the closure of the low performing schools to that one factor of having an affiliation with tertiary hospitals. This would also be a clarification with CHED, why allow schools to operate if they have not completed all the basic requirements needed for the operation of a nursing school or college, such as having an affiliation with a tertiary hospital?  I am not sure if the clamor of these "many" nursing students actually resulted to the creation of the Associate of Health Science Education (AHSE) in the nursing curriculum.
The most disturbing part of her response was when she said that students do not need to finish their Bachelor's Degree, kind of telling the public that you don't need to finish your school if you wish to work overseas. 
And what the heck is a "room nurse" Mrs. Villar? This is the first time I encountered that name. As far as I remember, RNs are Registered Nurses, not Room Nurses. We are registered Filipino professionals and we studied almost five years and passed our board examinations to professionally care and manage people's diseases and disorders - we are not room cleaners and assistants.
And please why do you have to use the word "lang" and try to associate with "mag-aalaga"? Mrs. Villar does not know how hard it is to take care of someone. The use of the word "lang" makes every nurse a second-class citizen and health provider. "Lang" degrades the hard work of every professional nurse both in the country and abroad. 
"Hindi naman sila kailangan ganoon kagaling" is another statement that went directly out of the mouth without being processed in the brain. Mrs. Villar is saying that nurses or anyone for that matter can be mediocre or substandard because they seek work that is not as glamorous or as "difficult" as what she is aspiring. In any way I tried to turn and look at different angles, there is no way for me to defend this statement - it is clearly said in a bad taste - unpalatable.

I challenge Mrs. Villar to join me and spend a day in a room as a nurse - that is the Operating Room, Delivery Room, ICU or Emergency Room. We would be so glad for you to work with us and show to the people of the Philippines, how a Cynthia Villar works with the people. Now this will be worth the votes.
People like Mrs. Villar still dwell in that stereotypical and derogatory image of a Filipino nurse, undignified assistants of other health providers and foreigners. Having you in the Senate is disturbing for me and poses a threat to many of our ranks and other health professionals in the country.
Forgive me that I have to drop Mrs. Villar from my list even if she belongs to the coalition of my political party. Her demeanor demerits her from our votes - nurses or not. I do not support any mediocre candidate even if they are from our coalition.

No nurse should allow this kind of thinking and impression towards any of our colleagues. Our lives are at stake serving people and caring for them - to the point we even forget to take care of our own. We live for others and take care of them like our own son, daughter, mother, father and relative - and this is what we get in return. Do not allow this, stand and be heard. Tell them we are not second class citizens, tell them that we are the heart of Philippine healthcare and tell them that whatever happens to them - they will fall in our hands and their lives is in ours.

But when you stand dear nurses, stand with courage and perseverance, stand as if no one is to stand for you but yourself. And when you start doing it, people like Mrs. Villar will learn and value life-savers like us. 
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