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Letters to the Editor - Re: Nursing board exam

February 23, 2011

Letters to the Editor


The latest results of the Nursing board examination with a dismal 35% national passing rate is already an alarming trend. For the past decade, a remarkable decrease of more than 20% compared to the 1998 performance record of 55.8% passers of the total number of takers in the nursing profession.

While we are bothered by the downward trend of board passers, we must equally treat the many nursing graduates who failed as a matter of grave concern. We are not talking of a few thousands of nursing graduates but we are referring to the 5 digit numbers of supposed to be registered nurses that flunked the exams yearly.

In the December 2010 board results alone, 29,000 nurses passed the examinations comprising around 35% of the total 72,000 nursing graduates who took the licensure test. We should pay more attention to the 65 % or an equivalent of 43,000 graduates that did not pass the examinations. In concrete terms, the Nursing licensure Examinations is being held twice every year with an average of nearly a hundred thousand board examinees per examinations given every month of June and December.

For the 2010 record of nursing board examinees, the non-passers are estimated to be 90,000 and the passers at around 60,000. If the trend has been going on for the last five years, we are talking of 300,000 board passers and 450,000 non-registered nurses.

Because of these numbers, the profession became vulnerable of many injustices. Sad to say, the institutions, agencies and even the government do not see them as a tool for real primary health care in the country but willing victims for greed and profits. The nursing profession is being reduced as a mere commodity, a good source of human resource demand in the international market strengthening the government’s labor export oriented policy.

In 2008, the issue of forced volunteerism among licensed nurses, the worst form of contractualization surfaced and was effectively exposed by some concerned nursing organizations and government personalities. Apparently, the government action of halting the illegal scheme only worked for sometime and did not last long. Last year, the issue again resurfaced and this time around, the DOH (Department of Health) reportedly issued a memo circular prohibiting the illegal practice of forced volunteerism.

Our registered Filipino nurses are graduates of four year course, Bachelor of Science in Nursing which includes 2,346 hours of related learning experience in its curriculum equivalent of 293 hospital OJT (On the Job Training) days. The very fact that they have passed the board examinations they are equally competent as those belonging to other professions including some allied health professionals. Their tedious training entitles them to be hired as a proven health specialist and need not be relegated as a volunteer.

We will not be surprised if in the near future we can hear same old stories of injustices among our beloved Filipino nurses for the government do not offer a comprehensive solution to the problem. The government must be in command and not offer a palliative solution but a comprehensive one that will overhaul the system to achieve real respect and dignity of the nursing profession.

The government must readily address the growing list of non-passers of nursing board examinations. Reviewing the list of incompetent schools and strictly enforced laws regulating them. More so, the government must pursue a genuine health care system that will mobilize our registered nurses for this purpose. The ratio of effecting nursing health care among hospitals in the country is way below the health standards of 1:7, meaning a nurse for every 7 Filipinos in a hospital. Ours is a far cry with a reportedly ratio of 1:100. Utilize these nurses into some of our health agencies, hospitals and health units down to the barangay levels on the basis of giving them rightful jobs and compensation.

As a gesture of the P-noy administration’s sincerity in addressing the problem of the nursing profession, enactment of an executive order stopping the practice of forced volunteerism would be a welcome move.

Teody Navea
Secretary General
Bukluran ng Manggagawang Pilipino (BMP)

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