MANILA, Philippines -- Despite the global economic meltdown that has hit the United States hard, with some 2.6 million Americans losing their jobs in the last 12 months, 20,746 Filipino nurses took the US licensure examination for the first time last year, the Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP) said Saturday.
In a statement, former Senator and TUCP secretary general Ernesto Herrera said the 20,746 represents a decline of 3.5 percent, or 753 fewer compared to the 21,499 Filipino nurses that took the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX) administered by the US National Council of State Boards of Nursing Inc. (USNCSBN) for the first time in 2007.
The 20,746 also brought to 66,597 the total number of Filipino nurses that indicated their desire to enter the US nursing profession by taking the NCLEX for the first time since 2005, according to Herrera, former chairman of the Senate labor, employment and human resources development committee.
Citing USNCSBN statistics, Herrera said a total of 9,181 Filipino nurses took the NCLEX for the first time in 2005; 15,171 in 2006; and 21,499 in 2007.
Herrera said the slight decrease in the number of Filipino nurses that took the NCLEX for the first time in 2008 "does not necessarily suggest a trend."
"It is too early to say whether there is a downtrend, considering the drop was marginal, and came after huge increases of 65 percent in 2006 and 42 percent in 2007," he pointed out.
"Based on the initial feedback that we got from the NCLEX testing center here in Manila, which opened only in August 2007, there is a long waiting period before nurses can actually take the test. This is because so many have already lined up to take the test, and the center can only accommodate so many takers at a time," Herrera added.
Herrera earlier said only the healthcare and education sectors in the US are actually creating new jobs, and that the rest of that country's economic segments are either reducing personnel, or have ceased hiring.
But on Friday, even one of the world's largest pharmaceutical firms, New York City-based Pfizer Inc., said it was laying off a third of its 8,000 sales staff in the US, and eliminating 800 research positions.
Herrera, meanwhile, urged Filipino nurses that have been recruited by American employers or their Philippine agencies to get hold of the "Voluntary Code for the Recruitment of Foreign-Educated Nurses to the United States."
"The document, available online, is a must-read for every Filipino nurse planning to work in America," he said.
Herrera said the code essentially binds subscribers, including recruiters and employers, to minimum ethical standards in order to discourage abuses and to prevent the exploitation and discrimination of Filipino and other foreign-educated nurses in the US.
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