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More Pinoy nurses for US jobs seen

WASHINGTON - The pool of Filipino nurses for US jobs is projected to grow when the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX) for nurses is held in Manila for the first time ever starting Aug. 23.

For Filipinos it will be cheaper to take the test in Manila than overseas as was previously the case while for the Chicago-based National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN) which administers the process it could mean more candidates from the Philippines who previously were inhibited by travel costs.

The NCLEX fee for all candidates is $200 (about P9,200). Add travel and accommodation costs and total expenditure becomes prohibitive.

NCSBN spokeswoman Dawn Kappel said it was a win-win for both sides.

She said 15,171 Filipinos took the test last year mostly in Hong Kong.

From Jan. 1 to June 30 this year, 9,944 have so far taken the exams but with the proximity of the testing center in Manila the 2007 turnout is projected to be higher than in 2006.

The test is a requirement for obtaining the license to practice nursing in the United States where demand is strong.

Cristina Godinez of the National Alliance for Filipino Concerns, umbrella group of Filipino American organizations, said a testing center in Manila was a positive development as Philippine-educated nurses comprise more than 30 percent of first time NCLEX test takers since 2003.

Citing NCLEX statistics ending March 2007 Godinez, a lawyer based in New York, said the Philippines leads the top five nurse-sending countries to the US which includes India, South Korea, Canada and Cuba.

Filipino nurses have always been drawn to the United States because they earn salaries they can only dream about at home.

Godinez estimates Filipinos constitute about 80 percent of all foreign-educated nurses in the US.

At its February meeting the NCSBN selected Manila as its newest site for the administration of NCLEX examinations following a government commitment to a secure test center.

Other international testing sites for NCLEX are Hong Kong, Taipei, London and Sydney; Toronto, Montreal, and Vancouver in Canada; Frankfurt in Germany, Mumbai, New Delhi, Hyderabad, Bangalore, and Chennai in India, Mexico City, and Chiyoda-ku and Yokohama in Japan.

There is an urgent need to address the shortage of nurses in the United States estimated to peak to peak to between 340,000 and one million by 2020 depending on which resource material you consult or whom you talk to.

In April 2006 the Health Resources and Services Administration of the US Department of Health and Human Services released projections that the nation’s nursing shortage would grow to more than one million by the year 2020. It said all 50 states would experience a shortage of nurses to varying degrees by the year 2015.

In its January/February 2007 issue Health Affairs a leading journal of health policy thought and research reported that the US shortage of registered nurses would increase to 340,000 by the year 2020, significantly less than earlier projections for a shortfall of 800,000 made back in 2000.

But the American Association of Colleges of Nursing said whatever the real figure the shortage is expected to intensify as baby boomers age and the need for health care grows.

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