By Nikko Dizon
Last updated 08:37pm (Mla time) 08/23/2007
MANILA, Philippines -- The demand for nurses in the United States will remain high for the next 10 years, according to an official of the US National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN).
An initial group of examinees took the National Council Licensure Examination at the first NCLEX testing center in the country on Thursday.
"The nursing shortage is still significant and research still indicates that there is a future anticipated shortfall of more than a million nurses in the US," Casey Marks, NCSBN associate executive director, told reporters in an interview.
The shortage is worldwide, according to Marks. In the US -- a preferred destination of many Filipino nurses -- "there is certainly a significant demand for a long period of time," he said.
With opportunities looming ahead, Marks said he would encourage more Filipinos to take up nursing as a profession.
"That's one of the reasons we are here," added Robert Whelan, president of Pearson Vue, which owns and operates NCLEX testing centers in various parts of the world, including the first center in the Philippines, located at the Trident Towers on Gil Puyat Avenue, Makati City.
Ninety "candidates" took the NCLEX, among them 43-year-old Benjie Almonte, a mechanical engineer by profession.
Almonte, a father of five, arrived at the testing center at 7 a.m., two hours ahead of the scheduled start of the exam.
He told a local television that he reviewed hard for the exams because he wanted to work in the US as a nurse.
High security were being implemented at the testing center, following measures that established the identity of the examinee and ensure that there would be no distractions during the exam, Marks said.
"The licensure practice is a matter of public safety. We want to make sure that that person is who they say they are. In fact, a number of US states require background checks," he added.
The opening of the NCLEX testing center signified the NCSBN's confidence in the Philippines, despite the leakage in the 2006 nursing licensure board exam that nearly dashed that batch of Filipino nurses' dream of working in the US.
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