Last February 5, the ACTS-OFW Party List of the Philippine Congress revealed that in 2018, a record number of nurses sought jobs in the United States–the highest in 9 years.
According to the group, a total of 10,302 Filipino nurses hoping to practice their profession in America took the US licensure examination for the first time in 2018.
“The number is up 32% versus the 7,791 Philippine-educated nurses who took America’s eligibility test or the NCLEX for the first time in 2017, without counting repeaters,” the party list group reported.
Other nationalities who took the test for the first time in 2018 were far fewer: 1,232 Indians, 1,017 Puerto Ricans, 783 South Koreans and 601 Nigerians.
The NCLEX for registered nurse (RN) or for practical nurse (PN) is the licensure test administered by the US National Council of State Boards of Nursing Inc (NCSBN).
The NCLEX examination fee is $200 (P10,500) payable to the Pearson VUE testing center in Makati City if taken in the Philippines.
Since the NCLEX is usually the final step in the US nurse licensure process, the number of Filipinos taking the test for the first time is considered a good indicator as to how many of them are trying to enter the profession in America.
“There’s no question many Filipino nurses looking for greener pastures overseas prefer to work and live in America, mainly due to the superior hourly pay, plus our attachment to the Western culture,” the party list group analyzed.
Nurses are not covered by the US Department of Homeland Security’s Jan. 19, 2019 to Jan. 18, 2020 ban on the issuance of new H-2A and H-2B visas to Filipinos.
“Filipino nurses entering America through the sponsorship of their prospective US employers apply for and are issued a separate entry permit – the H-1B visa,” the group pointed out.
America’s restricted H-1B visa program allows US employers to temporarily hire foreign staff, including nurses, in select occupations that require the application of specialized knowledge and a bachelor’s degree or the equivalent of work experience.
ACTS-OFW expects the demand for Filipino nurses in America to steadily increase in the years ahead.
“America’s nursing workforce is growing old, and they are not producing new nurses fast enough, mainly because they lack teaching staff. In fact, US schools are turning away many would-be nursing students due to the shortage of qualified instructors,” ACTS-OFW said.
An aggregate of 187,103 Filipino nurses have taken the NCLEX for the first time since 1995.
In California alone, Filipinos now account for some 20% of the state’s entire nursing labor force.
According to data from the Philippine Overseas Employment Agency (POEA), 92,277 nurses have left the country to work abroad from 2012 to 2016.
Now, there are reportedly tens of thousands of vacant positions for government health workers, many of these are nurses.