Record Number of Philippino Nurses Seek Careers in U.S.


SAUSALITO (ASRN.ORG) -Despite suffering a severe nursing shortage in the Philippines, the number of nurses seeking jobs as nurse and caregivers in the United States has soared by almost 50 percent.

This disclosure was recently made by the Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP) which, while encouraging this trend, has also been lobbying the government to put in place urgent measures to control this medical diaspora by creating the conditions—both in terms of economic viability and career prospects—to encourage graduate nurses to also consider taking up their careers here.

TUCP spokesman Alex Aguilar said that in the nine months to September 30 this year, a total of 15,083 Philippine-educated nurses sought to practice their profession in America by taking, for the first time, the eligibility test of the US National Council of State Boards of Nursing Inc. (NCSBN).

This represents an increase of 4,793 (or 47 percent) when compared to the 10,290 Filipino nurses who took the NCLEX for the first time (that is, non­repeaters) in the same nine-month period in 2006.

Citing NCSBN statistics, Aguilar said the 15,083 who took the NCLEX in the nine months to September this year just about matched the 15,171 Filipino nurses who braved the examination for the first time in the entire 12 months of 2006.

This positive increase also indicates that the nursing profession in the Philippines has somewhat recovered from the near self-destructive debacle of the 2006 nursing boards examinations where selected questions were proven to have been leaked—though to this day nobody has been taken to task or had to feel the full weight of the law for their part in the disgraceful scandal.

Aguilar said the Philippines still led the five countries with the greatest number of (non-US) nationals who took the NCLEX for the first time in the three quarters to September. India came in second, with 4,071 examinees; followed by South Korea, 1,440; Canada, 682; and Cuba, 525. The NCLEX, or National Council Licensure Examination, is the final step in the nursing licensure test.

TUCP’s disclosure comes not long after the NCSBN started allowing Filipino nurses aspiring to work in America to take the NCLEX in Manila. This was in August, with the installation here of a new international test center.

The labor group earlier said it expects the number of Filipino nurses applying for US jobs and subsequently passing the NCLEX to increase significantly in the months ahead on account of “the favorable home ground testing.”

Previously, Filipino nurses had to travel overseas just to take the NCLEX in test centers elsewhere in Asia and the Pacific. This created accompanying disadvantages and pressures, the foremost of which was financial. Partly owing to these past difficulties, historically, only about half of the Filipino nurses passed the test the first time they took it.

The TUCP has been batting for the deployment of Filipino nurses to more lucrative job markets abroad, saying that every professional is entitled to take his or her skills to wherever these would get the greatest reward.

Lured by the promise of greener pasture abroad, the number of Filipinos wanting to become nurses has grown by leaps and bounds. As of June this year, a staggering total of 632,108 students were enrolled in more than 400 Philippine nursing schools, up 30 percent or 145,875 from the 486,233 enlisted last year.

While the US has been producing its own nurses by the tens of thousands, they are still not enough to cope with the growing healthcare needs of the rapidly aging American population, including the deluge of migrants from Mexico. Hence the window of opportunity for Filipino nurses.

Some 78 million American baby boomers—those born between 1946 to 1964—now comprise 26 percent of the 300-million US population. The oldest baby boomers turned 60 last year, and they are starting to strain the US health care system.

Over the last 15 years, the number of Americans visiting healthcare facilities has increased about 50 percent, to a rate of about 4,300 appointments per 100,000 population.


Articles in this issue:


  • Masthead

    Editor-in Chief:
    Kirsten Nicole

    Editorial Staff:
    Kirsten Nicole
    Stan Kenyon
    Robyn Bowman
    Kimberly McNabb
    Lisa Gordon
    Stephanie Robinson

    Kirsten Nicole
    Stan Kenyon
    Liz Di Bernardo
    Cris Lobato
    Elisa Howard
    Susan Cramer

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