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15,000 RP nurses want to go to the US yearly - labor leader
« on: October 31, 2008, 08:47:59 AM »
MANILA, Philippines - Filipino nurses are keeping their eyes on greener pastures abroad as 15,079 graduates took the US licensure exams for the first time from January to September this year, a trade union leader said.

Ernesto Herrera, former senator and now Trade Union Congress of the Philippines secretary-general, said in a statement on Thursday that the number of Filipino nurses showing interest to immigrate to the US for work remains almost unchanged as 15,083 took the same test during the same period in 2007.

The National Council Licensure Examination administered by the US (National Council of) State Boards of Nursing Inc. is required for all nursing graduates who wish to work in American hospitals.

For the whole period last year, a record total of 21,499 Filipinos took the NCLEX for the first time. This is a 42 percent rise compared to the 15,171 first-time NCLEX takers in 2006.

Herrera’s statement came on the heels of reports that the global financial crisis would affect the deployment of Filipino workers, including nurses, in the US.

According to Herrera, the Philippines is the number one supplier of foreign nurses in the US. The demand for nurses not only in the US but also in the Middle East and Canada has led to the mushrooming of nursing schools and graduates in the Philippines.

Herrera however cautioned against the proliferation of fly-by-night nursing schools that charge exorbitant fees but fail to produce any board passer.

Citing a report by the Commission on Audit, the statement said that out of 263 nursing schools surveyed, only 111 had at least 50 percent of their graduates pass the local nursing eligibility test from 2001 to 2005.

Meanwhile, Herrera added that of the 132,187 nursing graduates that took the last two Philippine nursing licensure tests in December 2007 and in June this year, only 56,689 or less than 43 percent passed.

“Regulators should now be extra watchful, and see to it that nursing students are kept away from low-grade schools,"
Herrera said.

Herrera also pushed for the increase in the entry-level monthly basic pay of government staff nurses to P16,093, as mandated by the Philippine Nursing Act of 2002. He said that up to now, many government staff nurses are receiving only P8,000 per month.

Earlier, Dr Leah Samaco-Paquiz, Philippine Nurses Association president, said the demand for Filipino nurses had “plateaued" in the US since 2006 because of the “visa retrogression" there.

“In the US, the quota for visas has been filled up resulting in delayed processing of visas with current efforts focused on 2006 accepted applicants," Paquiz said.

She added that “many licensed nurses are now underemployed or unemployed as a result of changes of policy in destination countries, the current situation of oversupply and quality problems, among others."

Dr. Jaime Galvez Tan, a professor at the University of the Philippines College of Public Health, meanwhile said there is no reason for Filipino nurses to feel that there are no job opportunities for them when there remains a high demand for Philippine health workers overseas.

According to Tan, new labor markets in Saskatchewan and Alberta in Canada have opened recently when their representatives signed a pact with the Philippines to cater to Filipino nurses.

They have even offered a number of incentives for the families of the nurses.

“We are not beggars. In fact, the world is kneeling before us; Give us your nurses, give us your doctors," he said. “The vacancies are there. The US (for instance) needs 300,000 foreign nurses this year."

Senator Richard Gordon, Senate tourism committee chair, said the Philippines could put a stop to the exodus of Filipino workers abroad if the country would develop its medical tourism industry.

Gordon said the Philippines could get a share of the reported $30.3 billion to $79.4 billion expenditure of as many as 15.75 million Americans who seek medical services in other countries.

A militant group has said that the continuous sending of Filipino nurses abroad is causing the quality of the Philippine’s health sector to decline.

"The bulk of our nurses go abroad, the ones left are the new graduates, thus the quality of our health care declines," said Dr. Carol Araullo, chairperson of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan).

She said this “short-sighted labor export policy" has caused our hospitals to lose experienced medical consultants and doctors who have converted to nursing. - Mark Joseph Ubalde, GMANews.TV

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15,000 RP nurses want to go to the US yearly - labor leader
« on: October 31, 2008, 08:47:59 AM »

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