Thousands of Filipino nurses hope to practice in America

Higher base pay won’t stop nurses from seeking ‘vastly superior’ standards of living abroad, says ACTS-OFW.

A total of 9,195 Filipino nurses hoping to practice their profession in America took the U.S. licensure examination for the first time from January to September this year, the ACTS-OFW Coalition of Organizations said over the weekend.

“The number is up 30 percent versus the 7,119 Philippine-educated nurses who took America’s eligibility test, or the NCLEX, for the first time in same nine-month period in 2018, without counting repeaters,” said ACTS-OFW chairman Aniceto Bertiz III.

Citing U.S. National Council of State Boards of Nursing Inc. (NCSBN) figures released on Oct. 30, Bertiz said a total of 1,064 Indians, 805 Puerto Ricans, 638 South Koreans and 623 Nigerians also took the NCLEX for the first time from January to September.

The U.S. NCSBN administers the NCLEX for registered nurse (RN). The exam, which costs $200 (P10,200), is the final step in the U.S. nurse licensure process.

The number of foreign-educated 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.

Jamaicans, Canadians and Cubans also compete with Filipinos in America’s nursing labor market, according to Bertiz.

Bertiz welcomed the recent Supreme Court ruling which upheld the validity of a 2002 law that pegged at P30,531 (Salary Grade 15) the monthly base pay of nurses employed by the Philippine government – 48 percent higher than the P20,754 (Salary Grade 11) they are currently receiving.

Bertiz however also said that the considerably improved starting pay is not expected to hold back Filipino nurses from seeking “vastly superior standards of living overseas, especially in North America.”

“We have many young, upwardly-mobile nurses and other health professionals who really want to live and work overseas, mainly in America and Canada,” Bertiz, a former member of Congress, said. Bertiz also pointed out that the P30,531 monthly base pay, when annualized, amounts to only P396,903, to include the 13th month pay.

“The P396,903 is roughly equal to just 10 percent of the P3.65 million (or $71,730) annual median pay of nurses in America,” Bertiz said.