“American Dream” for Filipino Nurses: Is it over?


With the American market for foreign-educated nurses still in the shackles of retrogression, the dream of thousands of Filipino nurses to work in the “land of milk and honey” is now taking a back seat. As a proof, LPG-MA Rep. Arnel Ty said Sunday that the number of Philippine-educated nurses who sought employment in the United States plunged by 42 percent to just 5,630 in 2011 from 9,789 in 2010. With this statistics alone, we can safely assume that  for our discouraged Filipino nurses, the “American Dream” has been losing its former sparkle these past few years. 

According to  America’s National Council of State Boards of Nursing,  5,630 Filipinos who took the NCLEX for the first time in 2011 was roughly equal to only one-fourth of the 21,499 of them who took the US licensure exam at the height of the nursing boom in 2007. “In 2011, we had the fewest number of Filipino nurses taking the NCLEX (for the first time) since 2001, when only 4,456 took the exam,” Ty said. But what is the main culpable factor behind this continuing decline of interest to take NCLEX?

Perhaps the persistent rise of unemployment rate of Filipino nurses in the Philippines is the one to blame. Of course, you will not be able to work overseas if you lack the required years of training and clinical experience – – important things that our country is still struggling to provide to the thousands of nurses vying for the few plantilla positions available in our local hospitals. For instance, the Professional Regulation Commission estimates the number of jobless Filipino nurses to hit 298,000 this year, to include the 68,000 who took the local licensure exam in December.

But the main catalyst of this phenomenon is the present condition of nursing employment in the United States. Rep. Arnel Ty added, “US demand for foreign nurses is slowing down, with hospitals and nursing homes there still staggering from subsidy cutbacks. America is also producing more nurses. In 2011 alone, a total of 172,041 US-educated nurses took the NCLEX for the first time.” It turns out that aside from  local nurses, a Filipino nurse can also meet additional competition in the U.S. as well. Maybe this might be the best time to stop sensationalizing the news about America’s significant lack of nursing professionals because in reality, nursing glut can put more harm than good to a country’s economy.

 Now that the American Dream is taking a break, it is incumbent for the Philippine government to create feasible solutions that will  get the most out of its rich supply of nursing professionals. Aside from the RNHEALS Program, Ty also said that a bill which will create an extension of DOLE’s NARS Program in 2009, is already making its way to the Congress. The bill, according to him,  seeks to install a Special Program for the Employment of Nurses in Urban and Rural Services (NURSE).