6,879 Pinoy nursing grads take US licensure exams in Q1, despite thousands of local vacancies

(Photo by Jonathan Borba/Pexels)

A total of 6,879 Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) graduates from the Philippines took the US licensure examination for the first time from January to March 2024 in the hope of obtaining gainful employment in America, Quezon City Rep. Marvin Rillo, vice chair of the House committee on higher and technical education, recently revealed.

“We expect a large number of Philippine nursing graduates to persist in pursuing their career aspirations in America and other foreign labor markets as long as we continue to underpay them here at home,” Rillo said in a statement on International Nurses Day.

The world celebrates the contributions of nurses to society every May 12—the birth anniversary of Florence Nightingale, the founder of modern nursing.

“Congress must substantially upgrade the starting base pay of our nurses now if we want to retain at least some of them for our public hospitals,” Rillo said.

In the whole 12 months of 2023, a record-breaking 36,410 nursing graduates from the Philippines took the US licensure test for the first time, without counting repeaters.

Citing data from the US National Council of State Boards of Nursing Inc, Rillo said 1,486 nursing graduates from India also took the test for the first time from January to March, along with 744 graduates from Kenya, 632 from Nepal, and 613 from Ghana.

Rillo has been batting for the passage of his bill that seeks to boost by 75% the starting base pay of public nurses.

Under Rillo’s House Bill No. 5276, the starting pay of government nurses would be bumped up to P63,997 per month from the current rate of P36,619.

Sen. Sonny Angara has also filed Senate Bill No. 638, which proposes to raise the entry-level pay of public nurses to P51,357 per month.

Based on previous reports, up to 4,500 items for nurses in public hospitals run by the Department of Health (DOH) remain unfilled owing to the lack of takers.

The World Health Organization (WHO), in its State of the World’s Nursing 2020 report, previously projected that “without action, there will be a shortfall of 4.6 million nurses worldwide by 2030.”

“The shortfall of nurses in the Philippines is expected to be 249,843 by 2030, unless greater investment is made now to retain them in the local health sector,” the WHO report said. (Story courtesy of the House of Representatives of the Philippines)