MANILA – A total of 3,253 Philippine-educated nurses took the US National Licensure Examination (NCLEX) for the first time from January to September this year in the hopes of getting jobs in the US, House Assistant Majority Leader and Cebu Rep. Gerald Anthony Gullas Jr. said in a news release Thursday.
“The number is up a little over 10 percent when compared to the 2,952 Filipino nurses who took the NCLEX for the first time, excluding repeaters, over the same nine-month period in 2013,” said Gullas, vice chairman of the House committee on higher and technical education.
The NCLEX refers to the National Council Licensure Examination administered by the US (National Council of) State Boards of Nursing Inc. (USNCSBN).
“Though a bit costly, some Filipino nursing graduates are taking the NCLEX so they can add having passed the exam to their credentials when they apply for jobs elsewhere,” Gullas said.
“A number of them do not really expect to get hired by US hospitals anytime soon,” he said.
America’s demand for foreign nurses has slowed down since 2008.
“There is an oversupply of nurses in the US now. In fact, some 43 percent of fresh nursing graduates in America have not landed a job upon 18 months of receiving their license,” Gullas said.
He said US hospitals and nursing homes are not hiring new staff.
“For now, they are simply keeping their senior and highly experienced nurses until retirement,” he pointed out.
Gullas urged Filipino nurses searching for greener pasture overseas to instead apply for jobs in the United Kingdom and the Middle East, where there is still ample demand for their skills.
The number of Filipino nurses taking the NCLEX for the first time is considered a reliable indicator as to how many of them are trying to enter the profession in America.
Gullas said USNCSBN statistics show that among foreign-educated nurses, Filipinos remain the most active job-seekers in America.
He said 677 Indians, 489 Canadians, 437 Puerto Ricans, and 330 South Koreans also took the NCLEX for the first time from January to September of 2014.
In 2013, a total of 4,034 Filipinos took the NCLEX for the first time. The number is less than one-fifth of the record-high 21,499 Filipino nurses that took the same exam at the height of the 2007 nursing boom.
The Philippines continues to produce thousands of new nurses every year, despite a large surplus.
This year alone, the Professional Regulation Commission (PRC) has issued licenses to 22,202 new nurses.
In addition, some 30,000 nursing graduates, including repeaters, took the Philippine Nursing Licensure Examination administered by the PRC on Nov. 29 and 30.
Meanwhile, Gullas is pushing for the restoration to Salary Grade (SG) 15 –- the equivalent of P24,887 — the entry-level basic monthly pay of public nurses.
The Nursing Law of 2002, or Republic Act 9173, pegged the starting pay of public nurses at SG 15, but the Salary Standardization Law III effectively downgraded their rating to SG 11, or P18,549.