A member of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan has sought an inquiry into the affiliation agreement between the provincial hospital and the Catanduanes State University after learning that nursing students are going on a summer duty program in Metro Manila.
In a privilege speech on the May 29, 2023 regular session, Provincial Board Member Edwin Tanael asked the board to seek answers from officials of the College of Health Sciences as to whether the practice of sending nursing students for their Related Learning Experience (RLE) in the metropolis is mandatory or voluntary.
He stressed that the implementation of the scheme has potential consequences for the students, the CHS and the integrity of the Memorandum of Agreement between the Eastern Bicol Medical Center and the college.
Tanael cited CHED Memorandum Order No. 014-09 mandating that the RLE could be sourced from, but not limited to, lying-in clinics, schools, industrial establishments, community or outpatient clinics, and general and specialty hospitals.
“If the MOA between the college of nursing and the provincial hospital is already in place, one would assume that the students would naturally carry out their RLE within the confines of our province,” he stressed, r as the issue raises the question of why the college has chosen to deviate from the agreement and expose its students to learning experiences outside the province.
He pointed out that cross-regional affiliations, as per CHED guidelines, are not allowed except for a very valid reason.
“Are there truly no suitable lying-in clinics, schools, industrial establishments, community centers, outpatient clinics, or general and specialty hospitals within our province that can cater to the required competencies? If so, what measures have been taken to exhaust all local options before resorting to cross-regional affiliations?” the PBM asked.
He noted that it is crucial to ascertain whether the benefits of RLE in Metro Manila outweigh the potential drawbacks such as increased costs for the students and potential disruption of their studies due to extended travel and unfamiliar environments.
If the RLE implementation outside the province is not mandatory but rather a voluntary choice made by the college, he wondered if the college is prioritizing its own interests over the convenience and wellbeing of its students.
“Are there any financial or other considerations that may have influenced this decision?” Tanael asked, as it might be unfair to students who may not have the means to participate in RLE outside the province.
The PBM’s official inquiry was apparently set off by a letter signed by the CHS dean endorsing the solicitation of financial assistance for three nursing students for their summer affiliation in various Metro Manila hospitals such as the National Children’s Hospital. Philippine Orthopedic Center, San Lazaro Hospital and National Center for Mental Health.
The letter included a breakdown of the expenses per student which totals P44,189.87, not including the transportation costs from Virac to Manila and vice versa.
Among the expense items were the RLE fee of P11,169.87 to be paid to CatSU and P32,000.00 for accommodation, laundry and travel expenses for 32 days at P1,000 per day.