MANILA - A lawmaker on Sunday said 4,034 nurses took the US National Licensure Examination (NCLEX) in 2013 in hopes of obtaining gainful employment in America.
House Assistant Majority Leader and Cebu Rep. Gerald Anthony Gullas Jr. said the 4,034 Filipinos who took the NCLEX for the first time last year represented less than one-fifth of the record-high 21,499 applicants that took the same examination at the height of the 2007 nursing boom.
“It was the first time since 2007 that the number of Filipino nurses taking the NCLEX increased year-on-year,” said Gullas, vice chairman of the House Committee on Higher and Technical Education.
The NCLEX is administered by the US National Council of State Boards of Nursing Inc. (USNCSBN).
Gullas, citing data from the USNCSBN, said the 4,034 Filipino nurses who took the NCLEX for the first time in 2013, excluding repeaters, marked an increase of 9.8 percent over the 3,673 who went through the same examination in 2012.
“We have high hopes that once the world’s largest economy starts to fully recover, the healthcare labor market there will also begin to grow again, thus allowing more Filipino nurses to practice their profession in America,” Gullas said.
The 2007-2008 global financial crisis sent the US economy into deep economic slowdown that drove many hospitals and nursing homes, especially those wholly or partly funded by federal and state agencies, to cut back staff and cease hiring new nurses.
Meanwhile, Gullas said USNCSBN statistics show that among foreign-educated nurses, Filipinos remain the most active jobseekers in America.
The lawmaker said that the number of Filipino nurses taking the NCLEX for the first time is considered a reliable indicator as to how many of them are trying to enter the profession in America.
Besides Filipino nurses, he said 981 Indians, 617 Canadians, 496 Puerto Ricans and 482 South Koreans also took the NCLEX for the first time in 2013.
“The US Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, is expected to help stimulate America’s demand for foreign nurses,” he said.
Obamacare will increase by some 10 percent the number of insured Americans potentially seeking health care, thus perking up the demand for nurses, physical therapists, pharmacists and other allied medical professionals.
“[Because of this and] despite a large surplus, the Philippines continues to produce thousands of nurses, he said.
The lawmaker said that in the 12 months from January 2013 to January 2014 alone, the Professional Regulation Commission issued licenses to 44,104 new Filipino nurses.