More bad news for the CNMI’s tourism industry.
Starting this week, Filipino nurses seeking jobs in the United States began taking the National Council Licensure Examination in their own country.
Instead of the past practice of coming to Saipan or going to Hong Kong and other Asian countries for the NCLEX, Filipino nurses now have the option of taking the licensure exam at the Pearson Professional Center in Makati City.
It is estimated that some 4,000 Filipino nurses will take the NCLEX until December this year.
"The nursing shortage is still significant and research still indicates that there is a future anticipated shortfall of more than a million nurses in the U.S.," said Casey Marks, associate executive director for business operations of Pearsonvue, told the Philippine Daily Inquirer.
The shortage is worldwide, according to Marks. In the U.S.—a preferred destination of many Filipino nurses—“there is certainly a significant demand for a long period of time," he said.
"That’s one of the reasons we are here," said Robert Whelan, president of Pearson Vue, which owns and operates NCLEX testing centers in various parts of the world.
A significant number of Filipino tourists in the CNMI are nurses taking the NCLEX exam, which would enable them to find jobs in the United States and other countries.
Dante Ang, chief of the presidential task force on NCLEX, told the Manila Bulletin that at least 90 Filipino nurses took the exam Thursday, the first day it was administered at the test site.
"Our Filipino nurses can save a lot now that the NCLEX will be held here in Manila. This great opportunity comes a great responsibility for us to maintain the integrity of the exam. We should not endanger the credibility of NCLEX here," he said.
Ang said Filipino nurses can save as much as $2,000 each because they don’t have to fly to other NCLEX international sites abroad such as Hong Kong, Singapore, and Saipan where most nurses had earlier taken the test.
"They have to pay only the examination fee and an additional fee when they schedule their examination, unlike before when the transport cost was included in their expenses in taking the NCLEX," he said.
Marks said he the first NCLEX in Manila was successful and left nothing to chance.
"The U.S. nursing board places a high value on security and the integrity of its testing program. We were very thorough in our decision to expand testing to the Philippines and are able to do so by utilizing the latest in biometric technology through the Pearson Professional Center," he said.
The United States’ National Council of State Boards of Nursing board of directors had chosen Manila as an international NCLEX site last February, following the Philippine government’s request to host the NCLEX. (Saipan Tribune)