MANILA — The number of Filipino nurses seeking to practice their profession in America fell by one-third in the first semester compared to a year ago, the Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP) reported Sunday, July 18.
TUCP secretary-general and former Senator Ernesto Herrera said only 5,553 Filipino nurses took the NCLEX for the first time from January to June, down 2,719 or 33 percent from 8,272 in the same period of 2009.
The NCLEX refers to the licensure examination administered by the US National Council of State Boards of Nursing Inc.
The number of Filipino nurses taking the NCLEX for the first time is a reliable indicator as to how many of them are trying to enter the profession in the US, according to Herrera, former chairman of the Senate committee on labor, employment and human resources development.
Manila-based labor recruitment agencies previously reported that more Filipino nurses are now leaving for the United Kingdom than those going to the US.
“Filipino nurses and other highly skilled professionals will go to foreign labor markets where it is easier for them to enter and work, and where they will get the best reward in terms of pay and other benefits,” Herrera pointed out.
“Depending on their personal circumstances, professional qualifications and the job offers they’ve received, some Filipino nurses find it easier to work in the America, while others prefer to be employed in the UK, Saudi Arabia or elsewhere,” Herrera said.
“But there is no question that in absolute terms, more Filipino nurses are still seeking employment in the US than elsewhere. This is primarily due to our strong cultural attachment to America,” Herrera said.
He said many Filipino nurses still favor America simply because they already have family members there ready to support them.
He said the Philippines is still America’s biggest supplier of foreign nurses, followed by India, South Korea, Canada and Puerto Rico.
“The two biggest suppliers of foreign nurses in the UK are actually India and Australia, which is not surprising since both are former British territories. After them, the Philippines is now Britain’s third biggest supplier of foreign nurses,” Herrera said, citing statistics from the UK’s Nursing and Midwifery Council.
A total of 15,382 Filipino nurses took the NCLEX for the first time in the whole of 2009, down 5,364 or 26 percent from 20,746 in 2008.
In 2007, a total of 21,499 Filipino nurses took the NCLEX for the first time, up 6,328 or 42 percent from 15,171 in 2006. The 2006 figures were up 65 percent or 5,990 compared to the 9,181 Filipino nurses that took the NCLEX for the first time in 2005.
All told, some 82,000 Filipino nurses took the NCLEX for the first time over the last five years.