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MANILA, Philippines - Only 863 Filipinos nurses took the US professional licensure examinations from January to March this year, down by 40 percent compared to the 1,454 nurses who took the same test in the same quarter of 2011, a lawmaker said.
Representative Arnel Ty of the LPG Marketers’ Association said the number also represents only 17 percent of the 5,076 Filipino nurses who took the National Council Licensure Examination for the first time in the first quarter of 2007 at the height of the nursing boom.
“The number of Filipino nurses taking the NCLEX for the first time, excluding repeaters, is considered a good indicator as to how many of them are trying to practice their profession in America,” Ty said.
According to the lawmaker, an estimated 116,000 Filipino nurses are currently employed in US hospitals, clinics and nursing home since 1995.
But he added that the number has been on a decline since 2009.
In the 12 months of 2011, only 5,630 Filipino nurses took the NCLEX for the first time. This represents roughly one-fourth of the 21,499 Philippine-schooled nurses who took the US licensure exam in the 12 months of 2007.
Ty has been pushing for new legislation that would establish a special local jobs plan for the growing number of unemployed Filipino nurses.
House Bill 4582 proposed a jobs plan that would be a 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 P22,688 -- the higher starting pay for public nurses mandated by a 2002 law.
Outside of America, Ty stressed the need for the Philippine government to push for the opening of new foreign labor markets for Filipino nurses.
Meanwhile, Ty joined Vice President Jejomar Binay in denouncing Washington, D.C. Councilmember Marion Barry Jr., one-time mayor of the US capital, for his racist remarks against Filipino nurses in America.
“Mr. Barry’s offensive remarks were totally uncalled for, especially coming from a US Democratic Party member closely identified with the American civil rights movement against racial segregation and discrimination,” Ty said.
“Filipino nurses provide a great service to America. They should immediately make their presence felt by writing directly to Barry and his colleagues in the US capital’s lawmaking-body,” he added.
In a recent DC Council budget hearing, Barry said: “It’s so bad that if you go to the hospital now, you find a number of immigrants who are nurses, particularly from the Philippines. Let’s grow from our own nurses, so that we don’t have to be scrounging around in our community clinics and other kinds of places, having to hire people from somewhere else.”