THE number of Filipino nurses taking the United States licensure examination for the first time (excluding repeaters) is always considered a good indicator as to how many of them are trying to practice their profession in America.
But according to the latest statistics this has not been a good year in that respect. Only 2,984 Filipino nurses sought employment in the United States in the first semester of this year, down 46 percent from 5,553 in the same six-month period in 2010.
Citing statistics from America’s National Council of State Boards of Nursing, LPG/MA Rep. Arnel Ty points out that only 1,530 Filipino nurses took the NCLEX for the first time from April to June this year—making that figure 999 nurses fewer than the 2,529 in the same quarter in 2010.
According to Rep. Ty, From January to March, only 1,454 Filipino nurses took the NCLEX for the first time, down 1,570 from 3,024 in the same three-month period last year.Without counting repeaters, a total of 142,435 Filipino nurses have taken the NCLEX since 1995, in the hopes of pursuing careers in America and helping—in their own small way—boosting the Filipino economy with their remittances.
At least 60 percent of Filipino nurses taking the NCLEX eventually pass, if not on their first attempt, on their second take of the exam.
Ty has been pushing for new legislation that would establish a special local jobs plan for the growing number of unemployed Filipino nurses, estimated at more than 200,000 by the Department of Health as of March 31.
As proposed by Ty in House Bill 4582, the jobs plan would be an expanded version of the Nurses Assigned in Rural Service, the short-lived Philippine government project that enlisted nurses to improve healthcare in the 1,000 poorest towns in 2009.
The bill seeks to install a Special Program for the Employment of Nurses in Urban and Rural Services (NURSE), which hopes to mobilize a total of 10,000 practitioners every year.
They would each serve a six-month tour of duty, and get a monthly stipend not lower than the amount commensurate to Salary Grade 15, the higher starting pay for public nurses mandated by a 2002 law.
To qualify, nurses must not be over 35 years old, and must have a valid license.
Meanwhile, Ty cited the need for the Philippine government to push for the opening of new foreign labor markets for Filipino nurses.
He is of the opinion that the Philippines can no longer count on the US labor market for jobs. On the supply side, America has been internally generating a large number of nurses. In 2010 alone, US colleges produced a total of 167,597 nursing graduates.
“As to the demand side, American hospitals and nursing homes continue to reel from subsidy cutbacks at the federal, state and municipal levels,” Ty added. — Rene Martel, Manila Times