Fewer nurses seeking jobs in US

Published by rudy Date posted on May 16, 2011

The number of Filipino nursing graduates aspiring to practice their profession in America plummeted by 52 percent in the first quarter of this year, after nose-diving by 37 percent in 2010, a congressman said on Sunday.

Only 1,454 Filipino nursing graduates took the NCLEX for the first time from January to March this year compared to 3,024 in the same period last year, according to Rep. Arnel Ty of the party-list group LPG/MA.

NCLEX is the licensure exam administered by the US National Council of State Boards of Nursing. The number of Filipino nursing graduates taking the NCLEX for the first time, excluding repeaters, is considered a reliable indicator of how many of them are trying to enter the US market.

Citing US statistics, Ty said that in 2010, the number of Filipino nursing graduates who took the NCLEX for the first time dropped by 37 percent to just 9,789 compared to 15,382 in 2009.

This has prompted Ty to file a bill seeking to establish a special jobs plan for the country’s growing number of unemployed and underemployed nurses.

Under Ty’s proposal, the jobs plan would be an expanded version of the Nurses Assigned in Rural Service, the short-lived Philippine government project that enlisted 10,000 nurses to improve healthcare services in 1,000 poorest municipalities in 2009.

Nurses now comprise the country’s second-largest group of professionals after teachers, and the nation’s biggest group of unemployed skilled workers, Ty said.

From June 2008 to December 2010, a total of 500,766 nursing graduates took the local licensure exam administered by the Professional Regulation Commission, with 40 percent of them or 204,754 becoming registered practitioners or Rns, Ty said.

“The country now has tens of thousands of nurses who are either jobless or performing work that has nothing to do with their specialization,” Ty pointed out.

Last week, Health Secretary Enrique Ona urged incoming college students to avoid taking up nursing. He said too many nurses needed jobs here and abroad, while many nursing schools were closing following a government review of their quality of instruction.

As proposed by Ty in his bill, the NURSE program would mobilize a total of 10,000 nurses every year, with each practitioner serving a six-month tour of duty and receiving a monthly stipend not lower than the amount commensurate to Salary Grade 15, the higher starting pay for government nurses mandated by the Philippine Nursing Act of 2002.

The program would be directed, managed and administered jointly by the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), Department of Health (DOH), and the PRC in consultation with the Board of Nursing, with the Secretary of Labor and Employment as Program Director.

Nurses engaged under the program must not be over 35 years old, and must have a valid PRC-issued RN license.–Christine Herrera, Manila Standard Today

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