Thursday, October 22, 2009

Filipino nurses seeking US jobs plunge 21%

MANILA, Philippines - The number of Filipino nurses that indicated their desire to seek employment in America by taking that country’s nursing licensure examination plunged by 21.38 percent in the nine months to September this year, the Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP) reported Thursday.

Former Senator and TUCP secretary-general Ernesto Herrera said a total of 11,854 Filipino nurses took the NCLEX for the first time from January to September 2009, a decrease of 3,225 compared to the 15,079 that took the test in the same nine-month period in 2008.

On account of its economic decline, America has lost some of its allure as a land of greener pasture for foreign nurses and other highly skilled professionals, according to Herrera, former chairman of the Senate committee on labor, employment and human resources development.

"The confidence of foreign workers in America’s economic supremacy has clearly been shaken by the staggering job losses there," Herrera said in a statement.

A total of 7.6 million Americans have lost their jobs since the start of the U.S. recession in December 2007. Since then, the number of unemployed Americans has doubled to 15.1 million, with the national jobless rate at 9.8 percent, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

Herrera said that in the July to September quarter alone, only 3,582 Filipino nurses took the NCLEX for the first time, down 1,660 or 31.66 percent versus the 5,242 that took the test in the same quarter in 2008.

The continued decline in the number of Filipino nurses seeking to practice their profession in America comes even after the establishment of an NCLEX testing center in Manila, which has made it easier for them to take the examination, Herrera pointed out.

Prior to the establishment of the local test center, Filipino nurses had to travel overseas to take the NCLEX in Hong Kong, Guam or elsewhere.

The NCLEX refers to US National Council (of State Boards of Nursing) Licensure Examinations for registered and practical nurses.

In the whole of 2008, a total of 20,746 Filipino nurses took the NCLEX for the first time. This was down 3.5 percent compared to the 21,299 Filipino nurses that took the test for the first time in 2007.

Filipinos still account for four out of every 10 foreign nurses seeking to enter the US nursing profession.

The aggregate remittances of Filipino workers in America, including some 200,000 nurses, fell by $635 million or 11.84 percent to $4.731 billion in the seven months to August this year compared to $5.366 billion over the same period in 2008, according to Herrera.

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