NMI Nursing Board a black hole for off-island NCLEX applicants


Nurses from off-island who want to take the nursing licensure exam or NCLEX here in the Commonwealth are being made to wait for months on end with no feedback or response to their inquiries about the processing of their applications—a recurring problem with seemingly no concrete solution in sight.

Glynnis Amalthea Pearson, a registered nurse in the Philippines, sent her application along with her other documents as well as the application fee of $110 to the CNMI Board of Nursing last June.

“I am very disappointed with the Board of Nursing because I have been trying to contact them since August regarding my eligibility status but didn’t get a response from them,” she said.

Pearson said she resigned from work last May as a neonatal intensive care unit nurse in order to prepare for her application and review for the NCLEX exam.

Another nurse from the Philippines, Adela Oblena, also sent her application and payment last June and began following up in August.

“I haven’t received any response from emails and nobody is answering their phone. The voicemail isn’t set up for me to leave a message,” Oblena said.

Only last Thursday, four months after they submitted their requirements, and only after reaching out to the Office of the Governor and to the media, did the two nurses finally heard from the CNMI Board of Nursing.

According to Carol Fleming, office manager of the CNMI Board of Nursing, it’s hard for her to respond to application updates as she is the only staff manning the board’s office.

“A lot of applicants tend to come and email but as you can see I’m the only staff here. So when I’m out for errands, doing errands for the office, of course nobody’s going to be here to sit down and email,” Fleming said.

“It’s not only NCLEX, it’s also renewal of license, license verification, that we deal with. It’s actually all-in-one through me,” she added.

According to Fleming, their office receives 60 to 100 applications in a month and about 30 to 70 will complete all the requirements for the applications, which will then be forwarded to the board for review. Once forwarded, it’s up to the board, she said, and there is no set timeline as to how long it may or may not be approved.

Fleming said she receives up to 60 follow-up emails every day but as she is by herself, it is hard for her to respond to everyone.

“As far as having to hear from us, like I said, it’s very hard for me to sit down in front of the computer all day answering emails,” Fleming said.

“I cannot just assume. I have to pull out their files and see the status so that’s time consuming as well,” she added.

Fleming said they usually wait until an applicant completes their requirements, and the length of time they get approved also depends on how fast an applicant completes his or her documents.

“Most applicants send their application separately with the requirements. They can send their application a month from now or two months from now. That’s the thing, sometimes they don’t send everything at one time,” Fleming said. “I can’t forward that [application] to the board for review unless the requirements are complete. As long as it’s complete, then I forward it to the board for review.”

“I usually tell the applicants to follow up at least within two weeks but actually there is no timeline [as to how long until they can get approval],” Fleming added.

She said there is already a move to add more staff to their office.

Aside from the lack of personnel, Fleming also noted the challenges that the island has faced over the past months.

“As you are aware we have that islandwide outage in July and then the typhoon again in August. All of those have caused delays with everything else that’s gone in the office,” Fleming said.

She urged applicants to be patient.

“Be patient. Unfortunately, I’m the only one here. I try my best to process everything,” she said.

However, this is not the first time the Saipan Tribune has received complaints about the lack of action and feedback from the CNMI Nursing Board. This has been a constant occurrence for many years now, such that the CNMI has already gained a reputation among nursing review centers abroad.

“I called one of the review center here in our country and they don’t recommend their students to apply [on] Saipan anymore because of that problem regarding the nursing board,” said Pearson. “Hopefully they would update their contact numbers on their website and add additional staff so that they could accommodate their applicants.”

“The reason why I applied in Northern Mariana Islands is that they don’t require SS number from their applicants,” she added. “Other states in the United States require SS number which is difficult for me to secure because I don’t have a US visa yet.”

“I’m hoping that their system can improve so that it will not be difficult for foreign nurses to follow up regarding their application status,” Pearson said.

Frauleine S. Villanueva-Dizon | Reporter
Frauleine Michelle S. Villanueva was a broadcast news producer in the Philippines before moving to the CNMI to pursue becoming a print journalist. She is interested in weather and environmental reporting but is an all-around writer. She graduated cum laude from the University of Santo Tomas with a degree in Journalism and was a sportswriter in the student publication.

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