Perception of Program Administrators and Student Representatives on the Implementation of Return Service Agreement in Selected Institutions in the Philippines

  • Jonathan P. Guevarra
  • Paolo Victor N. Medina
  • Michelle D. Avelino
  • Ma. Rhenea Anne M. Cengca
  • Mikko Anthony L. Ting
  • Azar G. Agbon
  • Danika Joy D. Bardelosa
  • Demi Arantxa C. Sepe
  • Aubrey B. Lara
  • Carl Abelardo T. Antonio
Keywords: compulsory service, mandatory service, return service agreement, health human resource, program administrators, student representatives, Philippines


Objectives. The study aimed to determine the perception of program administrators and students on the implementation of return service agreement (RSA) in the Philippines. It examined the different components of, and opportunities, and challenges in the implementation of RSA of selected institutions.

Methods. Key informant interviews using a topic guide were conducted with ten program administrators and student representatives from selected institutions implementing a return service policy. Interviews were transcribed and responses in Filipino were translated to English. Open coding and focused coding were performed to identify categories and themes from the interview transcripts.

Results. Addressing human resource for health (HRH) needs of the country is a common rationale behind RSA implementation among the institutions sampled for the study. A notable difference in implementation arrangements is the manner of rendering service. Majority of RSA programs require promisors to be employed in any part of the Philippines in need of health workers, while other RSA programs recruit students from rural areas in order to deploy them later on in their hometowns. There is also an apparent lack of institutionalized mechanisms for job placement for students to fulfill their return service obligations. One challenge in most institutions is the need for a formal monitoring and evaluation scheme for the policy.

Conclusion. Integration of the voice of stakeholders is critical in the conceptualization, development, and implementation of RSA policies. This will ensure that issues attendant to operationalization are mitigated if not outrightly avoided.


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