By: Likha Cuevas-Miel, InterAksyon.com
The online news portal of TV5
MANILA - More Filipino nurses and doctors can earn six-digit salaries without having to go abroad, according to a US-based business process outsourcing company in the health field.
"The access to this pool of talent is a plus for our clients. The skill sets of the Philippines is better than those in other markets," Rohit Kapoor, ExlService Holdings Inc. vice chairman and chief executive, said in a briefing on Tuesday.
Jaideep Pradhan, EXL senior vice president for operations and Philippine business head, said a company must offer handsome compensation packages to healthcare workers to make them stay in the country and slow down the brain drain.
Filipino nurses - who otherwise have to pay for their hospital training - can earn P18,000-35,000 a month in the country, while BPO companies like EXL foot the bill of their hospital training. The Nasdaq-listed healthcare BPO firm has a tie up with Manila Doctors Hospital for this purpose.
Depending on their clinical experience, doctors receive salaries of P100,000 to P300,000 in EXL and still get to practice outside their BPO work.
Aside from the normal BPO perks to workers, the company has to pay for the fees of those who need to take the National Council Licensure Examination, Pradhan said. Nurses are required to take the NCLEX so they can work in the US.
Pradhan said the company has to offer these perks - aside from the normal benefits other BPO workers receive - to corner enough skilled and licensed workers that their clients look for.
The New York-headquartered company has around 1,800 workers and close to 800 of these are nurses and doctors who hold US licenses.
"Our compensation is the thing that make us stay. Our compensation is at par with the salaries our counterparts receive abroad," Loraine Lopez, a nurse associate at EXL told participants of the 4th International Outsourcing Summit.
Lopez was a medical technologist who studied nursing so she can work in the US. While waiting for her work permit approval, she opted to work as volunteer nurse or nursing associate in various hospitals and clinics to get the training and specialization that would make her more marketable abroad.
There were times she would only get P3,500 a month - the same salary her family househelp gets - with free meals or none at all. She is a trained hemodialysis nurse.
After years of training or working for a pittance, Lopez' permit was denied after the US government tightened the entry of foreign nurses.
She said working in the healthcare BPO industry is a better option for those who want to earn well and have families in the Philippines.
According to Kapoor, EXL is putting up a healthcare academy to hone the clinical skills of the company's workers.
"Not all the talent is available in the market that is why we are making this investment," he said.
"It is always a risk that our trained workers may leave for work abroad but that is the risk we have to take," Kapoor said.
To make workers stay, EXL is offering a "very credible career path" so that if they want to graduate from being a nurse or a doctor dispensing medical advice through telephone, there are other doors opened to them like in insurance and other allied industries.
The company has also tied up with the Asian Institute of Management to groom middle managers.
EXL is opening a new 500-seat site in Cebu City and adding 500 seats to its existing site at the Mall of Asia in Pasay City.
By the end of next year, EXL will open a new site in Metro Manila.